The Underground Railroad

Advisor: Matthew Pinsker, Pohanka Professor of American Civil War History, Dickinson College
©2015 National Humanities Center

As the Underground Railroad helped guide fugitive slaves to freedom, what dangers and challenges confronted both the fugitives and those who helped them?


Political, economic, social, and moral issues molded the antebellum fugitive slave crisis in the US and in turn the Underground Railroad (UGRR). A metaphor for an interracial collaboration — at times formal, informal, visible, and invisible — the Underground Railroad helped direct thousands of fugitives toward freedom in the face of such ever-present challenges as poor communications and the threats of kidnapping, betrayal, and recapture.

Underground Railroad map


Letters from Thomas Garrett to William Still, 1857–1860

Text Type

Letters, literary non-fiction

Text Complexity

Grade 11-CCR complexity band. Based on lexile measurements this lesson could also be classified in upper levels of the 9th-10th complexity band.

For more information on text complexity see these resources from

In the Text Analysis section, Tier 2 vocabulary words are defined in pop-ups, and Tier 3 words are explained in brackets.

Click here for standards and skills for this lesson.


Common Core State Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 (cite evidence to analyze specifically and by inference)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4 (determine the meaning of words and phrases)

Advanced Placement US History

  • Key Concept 5.2 (IB) (Abolitionists… mounted a highly visible campaign…)

Teacher’s Note

In this lesson students will analyze five letters written from Thomas Garrett to William Still, both active agents in the Underground Railroad. Organized chronologically, the letters date from 1857 to 1860, all well after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Thomas Garrett (1789–1871) was a white Quaker abolitionist and vigilance agent who lived in Wilmington, in the slave state of Delaware. Vigilance agents helped direct fugitives toward freedom through the Underground Railroad network. The recipient of these letters, William Still (1821–1902) was a free black in Philadelphia, in the free state of Pennsylvania, only 33 miles away. He led the Philadelphia vigilance committee. James Miller McKim (1810–1874), a white Philadelphia abolitionist who was head of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, is mentioned as a recipient in document four. The well-known vigilance agent Harriet Tubman (1822–1913) is mentioned in two of the letters.

Although supported by white abolitionists financially and operationally, much of the UGRR activity was organized and run by former fugitives and free blacks. Free blacks worked in anti-slavery offices and on vigilance committees, helped on docks, piloted fugitives to safety, and conducted “vigilant watchfulness,” looking for fugitives who might need help and guiding them to appropriate resources. See this zoomable 1853 map of Philadelphia that reflects the significant role of blacks in the effort. See also this extensive list of resources on the Underground Railroad.

This lesson is divided into two parts, both accessible below. Five letters with accompanying close reading questions provide an analytical study of the texts. Student interactives reinforce vocabulary in context and allow students to investigate the UGRR from the perspective of a fugitive. An optional follow-up assignment enhances the lesson. The teacher’s guide includes a background note, the text analysis with responses to the close reading questions, access to the interactive exercises, and an optional follow-up assignment. The student’s version, an interactive PDF, contains all of the above except the responses to the close reading questions and the follow-up assignment.

Teacher’s Guide (continues below)

  • Background note
  • Text analysis and close reading questions with answer key
  • Interactive exercises
  • Follow-up assignment
Student Version (click to open)

  • Interactive PDF
  • Background note
  • Text analysis and close reading questions
  • Interactive exercises

Teacher’s Guide


Background Questions

  1. What kind of text are we dealing with?
  2. When was it written?
  3. Who wrote it?
  4. For what audience was it intended?
  5. For what purpose was it written?

The Underground Railroad (UGRR) was a metaphor for a large, interconnected network composed of smaller local systems that helped fugitives (runaway slaves) to make their way to freedom by providing money, transportation, food, clothing, other goods, and legal services. Fugitives, many of whom received no previous formal assistance to escape, reached the UGRR locations in a number of ways, including walking on foot at night, adopting disguises, and hiding on steam boats originating from Southern ports. While there are no reliable numbers about how many fugitives were successfully helped to freedom, estimates range from 25,000 to 50,000, only a fraction of all those held in bondage. Most fugitives were self-emancipating: they escaped by their own decision rather than being recruited by others.

The Underground Railroad grew and operated within the context of the larger fugitive slave debate. Laws distinguished between slaves and fugitives. As early as 1793 the US passed a fugitive slave law that authorized slave holders to cross state lines in order to reclaim runaways as specified in the fugitive slave clause in the US Constitution (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3). Slave owners appeared before local law enforcement or court officials to prove both ownership and that the slave had escaped, and the fugitive had no rights to trial or a writ of habeas corpus. Some states resisted the law by insisting that only federal magistrates could hear runaway cases or passing “personal liberty laws,” which gave to fugitives who were identified by slave catchers the right to trial by jury and the right to testify. Northern states also imposed stiff fines for kidnapping. By 1820 most Northern states had prohibited slavery by state statute more for political than economic reasons. The Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery above the 36°30' line, and the abolition movement began to expand, encouraged by the Second Great Awakening and the fact that England outlawed slavery in 1833.

In Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) the US Supreme Court ruled that personal liberty laws were unconstitutional, stating that a citizen’s right to recover property overrode any state’s effort to restrict that right. Additionally, the court ruled that enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 was a federal responsibility and state officials or private citizens could not be coerced into assisting in the capture of fugitives. To reinforce this provision, several Northern states passed statutes prohibiting state officials or jails from being used in the recovery of fugitives.

Caution! Colored People of BostonThe fugitive debate intensified with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850 that greatly expanded the power of Southerners to reclaim fugitives. Slave catchers brought a captured runaway before a special “federal commissioner” to determine a fugitive’s status. White witnesses or an affidavit from a slave state was all that was required to prove ownership: the slave catcher needed only to state that the accused was a slave unless there was documentation to the contrary. Slave catchers were paid a fee, and the commissioner was paid by the slave owner: $10 if he ruled in the owner’s favor and $5 if he ruled against the owner. Many saw this as a bribe to rule in the slave owner’s favor. Another element of the 1850 law that particularly angered Northerners was the fact that it required federal marshals to apprehend fugitives and permitted them to deputize private citizens to aid in the effort. The great irony of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was that the Southerners demanded federal power to support the return of fugitives, while the Northern states argued for state sovereignty to resist those efforts.

President Franklin Pierce (1804–1869) used the federal army and navy to enforce the 1850 law. For instance, one of the more famous examples of a fugitive return was that of Anthony Burns in 1854. In Boston, where rowdy crowds lined the streets, the US infantry was needed to march Burns to a waiting ship to return him to slavery in Virginia. The federal government spent thousands of dollars to return this one fugitive.

With the publication in 1852 of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Anthony Burns case, the fugitive issue became even more volatile. Northern states reacted to the Burns case by passing new personal liberty laws. The abolitionist movement expanded, and the activities of the Underground Railroad accelerated. Free blacks and escaped slaves, assisted by white abolitionists, continued to take a leading role in the Underground Railroad.

William Still

William Still, 1821–1902

This lesson focuses upon letters written by Thomas Garrett to William Still, both vigilance agents, those who assisted fugitives, on the UGRR. William Still (1821–1902), the son of slaves, was born in New Jersey, the youngest of 18 children. At 23 he moved to Philadelphia to seek employment, and he joined the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery in 1847. He advanced to become head of the Philadelphia UGRR office, working tirelessly to raise funds, arrange passage, and negotiate safe houses for fugitives, usually among the free black population of Philadelphia. He remained active in the African American community until his death.

Still kept most of his letters and notes from his work on the UGRR not only to document the work of the UGRR but also to help fugitives find their families as he had done when his own brother came through the Underground Railroad network to Philadelphia. Although keeping such records was dangerous, with discovery resulting in large fines, loss of property, or recapture of the fugitives, he persisted, but after the Harper’s Ferry raid he hid his records in a church building. At the request of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society in 1872 Still published his records and recollections in the book, The Underground Railroad. It is from this source that these letters are taken.

Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett, 1789–1871

Thomas Garrett was a Quaker abolitionist who served as a vigilance agent in Wilmington, Delaware. He assisted as many as 3,000 fugitives, sending many of them to his friend William Still. While Garrett kept a count of the fugitives he helped, he did not retain actual letters or correspondence. He was also friends with Harriet Tubman, who passed through his office (Garrett owned a large shoe business) at least eight times. Vigilance agents were subject to arrest, fines, and imprisonment for their activities, and Garrett lost much of his personal wealth in a lawsuit brought against him by slave owners. Yet he continued his support of fugitives and free blacks until his death.

What happened to the UGRR? The outbreak of the Civil War allowed friendly US soldiers to take part in assisting fugitives. While Lincoln originally ordered the military to return fugitives to their masters, this was generally ignored, and by late 1861 Lincoln stated that any fugitive who reached the Union lines was free. In March of 1862 the US Congress prohibited the Northern military from returning fugitives.

In this lesson you will analyze five letters written from Thomas Garrett to William Still. As you analyze the letters pay attention to the dangers and uncertainties of the Underground Railroad.

Text Analysis

Letter 1: Thomas Garrett To William Still, March 27, 1857

Close Reading Questions

Activity: VocabularyActivity: Vocabulary
Learn definitions by exploring how words are used in context.

1. Harriet Tubman was one of the best known guides on the Underground Railroad. According to this letter, what were her travel plans the previous fall?
She was in the state of New York on the way to Canada with “friends.”

2. Who may you infer were the “friends” she accompanied?
They were fugitive slaves escaping to freedom.

3. Tubman and Garrett worked closely together. What can you infer about her travels from the fact that he has not heard from her in several months?
She may have taken an alternative route returning from Canada. If she had been captured, he probably would have heard about it.

4. From this letter, how do you know that Tubman already has a well-known reputation as a successful guide on the Underground Railroad?
Garrett refers to her as a “hero.” Also, he has received a letter from Ireland asking about her.

5. When Garrett stated, “I have heard nothing from the eighth man from Dover, but trust he is safe,” to whom is he referring? If he has no information, why does he mention the man?
He is referring to a fugitive from Dover [Delaware] about whom he does not have definite information, but he is updating Still on the man’s status to his knowledge.

6. Based upon this letter, what can you infer is one challenge faced by those traveling via the Underground Railroad network?
Because routes varied by circumstances, the whereabouts or safety of fugitives might not be known by those trying to help them. Communications could be difficult.

This letter was sent seven years after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

WILMINGTON, 3d mo., 27th, 1857.
ESTEEMED FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:— I have been very anxious for some time past, to hear what has become of Harriet Tubman. The last I heard of her, she was in the State of New York, on her way to Canada with some friends, last fall. Has thee seen, or heard anything of her lately? It would be a sorrowful fact, if such a hero as she, should be lost from the Underground Rail Road. I have just received a letter from Ireland, making inquiry respecting her. If thee gets this in time, and knows anything respecting her, please drop me a line by mail to-morrow, and I will get it next morning if not sooner, and oblige thy friend.

I have heard nothing from the eighth man from Dover, but trust he is safe.


Letter 2: Thomas Garrett to William Still, August 21, 1858

Close Reading Questions

7. How old is Thomas Garrett when he writes this letter? What does this tell you about the ages of members of the Underground Railroad?
Garrett was 69 years old. It reminds the reader that supporters of the Underground Railroad were of all ages, not just younger persons.

8. Describe the fugitives Garrett speaks of in this letter. Are they traveling together? Cite evidence from the text.
The fugitives are a man and wife, and they are not traveling together to this point. The man has been waiting for his wife for a week, but she is expected to arrive soon.

9. Why have these two fugitives been separated up to this point? Cite evidence from the text.
The reader may infer that they did not live in the same location, since Garrett feels “some anxiety about the woman, as there is a great commotion just now in the neighborhood where she resides.” If they had been living together, then the man probably would not have arrived earlier.

10. By what method of transportation are these fugitives to leave Garrett?
They will leave via the railroad line, or “the cars.”

11. Who will accompany them from this point?
They will leave “with a pilot,” someone to help guide them to Still in Philadelphia.

12. Who was Jesse Perry? What did he do?
Jesse Perry was “a colored man” who betrayed four slaves “near the Maryland line.” He agreed to pilot four fugitives to the next stop but turned them in to “several white men secreted,” and the fugitives were captured. (Note: Jesse Perry was a free black who worked with slave catchers to catch fugitives, probably for money. In July of 1858 he betrayed a group of 7 fugitives from Maryland as well as Hugh Hazlett, the white UGRR agent who was assisting them. The fugitives were returned to bondage, and Hazlett was sentenced to 44 years in prison. He was pardoned in 1864 when Maryland ended slavery by state Constitutional Convention.)

13. What had Perry attempted to do two weeks prior to this letter?
Perry had attempted to arrange to pilot seven fugitives two weeks prior to this letter, and he wanted Garrett to send for the fugitives.

14. How did Garrett deal with Perry’s request?
Suspecting a “trap” to catch both Garrett and another pilot, Garrett refused to send for the fugitives.

15. From the Jesse Perry episode what may you infer about the security dangers on the Underground Railroad?
There was a possibility of betrayal at many turns. Fugitives often relied on people they did not know, and since Jesse Perry was “a colored man,” they may not have anticipated that he would surrender the fugitives.

16. Who were John and Elsey Bradley?
They were two freeborn blacks who were kidnapped and sold to two traders and then at public auction. (Note: As did several Northern states, Delaware had laws prohibiting kidnapping of blacks in order to return them to slavery. The “kidnapper” had to prove that the person was actually a slave. By the late 1850s it was also illegal for slaves or free blacks to cross the Delaware state border in either direction.)

17. What happened to John and Elsey Bradley?
An attorney took charge of them, and they were returned to jail until their “identity and freedom” could be proven.

18. From this letter, name three types of assistance offered to fugitives by the UGRR.
The UGRR offered the assistance of a pilot, a safe house for the man to wait for his wife, and legal assistance for the Bradley boys.

19. Based upon this letter, what were two dangers fugitives faced as they tried to escape?
They could be kidnapped and resold as slaves as the Bradley fugitives were, or they could be betrayed by people they did not know.

WILMINGTON, 8th mo. 21st, 1858.
ESTEEMED FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:— This is my 69th birth-day, and I do not know any better way to celebrate it in a way to accord with my feelings, than to send to thee two fugitives, man and wife; the man has been here a week waiting for his wife, who is expected in time to leave at 9 this evening in the cars [on the railroad] for thy house with a pilot [a guide], who knows where thee lives, but I cannot help but feel some anxiety about the woman, as there is great commotion just now in the neighborhood where she resides. There were 4 slaves betrayed near the Maryland line by a colored man named Jesse Perry a few nights since. One of them made a confidant of him, and he agreed to pilot [guide] them on their way, and had several white men secreted to take them as soon as they got in his house; he is the scoundrel that was to have charge of the 7 I wrote you about two weeks since; their master was to take or send them there, and he wanted me to send for them. I have since been confirmed it was a trap set to catch one of our colored men and me likewise, but it was no go. I suspected him from the first, but afterwards was fully confirmed in my suspicions. We have found the two Rust boys, John and Elsey Bradley, who the villain… took out of jail and sold to a trader of the name of Morris, who sold them to a trader who took them to Richmond, Virginia, where they were sold at public sale two days before we found them, for $2600, but fortunately the man had not paid for them; our Attorney had them by habeas corpus before a Judge, who detained them till we can prove their identity and freedom; they are to have a hearing on 2d day next, when we hope to have a person on there to prove them. In haste, thine,


Letter 3: Thomas Garrett to William Still, August 25, 1858

Close Reading Questions

20. Garrett speaks in this letter of the two fugitives who were to be sent to Still via the railroad line. Who was their pilot — who “had charge of them” — and what were his responsibilities before they left Delaware?
A. Allen was the pilot. He was to keep them hidden, keep a lookout for slave catchers, and purchase their ticket for the train.

21. What happened to thwart the plan to leave via the railroad line? Why was it necessary to change the plan?
The masters of both fugitives arrived on the train on which they were to leave. They knew Allen and he recognized them, so plans had to be changed in order to keep the fugitives hidden.

22. How did the two fugitives actually leave? What route did they follow?
They were disguised and left on a boat and went via Media, Pennsylvania, where they were to be sent on to William Still in Philadelphia. (Note: Chester, Pennsylvania, was a very active area in Underground Railroad activity, and Media, Pennsylvania, was approximately 15 miles northeast of Wilmington, Delaware, where Garrett resided.)

23. Garrett states, “we expect 3 more next 7th day night, but how we shall dispose of them we have not yet determined; it will depend on circumstances.” From this statement what can you infer about Underground Railroad routes?
Routes were not fixed; they could be adjusted or changed as circumstances demanded.

24. What happened to the Bradley fugitives?
They were identified by “Judge Layton,” and they were to be tried by Delaware law. (Note: As did several Northern states, Delaware had laws prohibiting kidnapping of blacks in order to return them to slavery. The “kidnapper” had to prove that the person was actually a slave. By the late 1850s it was also illegal for slaves or free blacks to cross the Delaware state border in either direction.)

25. What danger does the Bradley situation in this letter exemplify for free blacks in the North?
There was always a danger of being kidnapped and sold as a slave.

26. What other challenge for fugitives is implied by this letter?
Fugitives could be recognized and returned if they could not prove their identity.

This letter was written only four days after letter 2.

WILMINGTON, 8th mo. 25th, 1858.
ESTEEMED FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:— Thine [your letter] was received yesterday. Those two I wrote about to be with thee last 7th day [Saturday] evening, I presume thee has seen before this. A. Allen had charge of them; he had them kept out of sight at the depot here till the cars [railroad] should be ready to start, in charge of a friend, while he kept a lookout and got a ticket. When the Delaware cars arrived, who should step out but the master of both man and woman, (as they had belonged to different persons); they knew him, and he knew them. He left in a different direction from where they were secreted, and got round to them and hurried them off to a place of safety, as he was afraid to take them home for fear they would search the house. On 1st day [Sunday] morning the boat ran to Chester to take our colored people to the camp at Media; he had them disguised, and got them in the crowd and went with them; when he got to Media, he placed them in care of a colored man, who promised to hand them over to thee on 2d day [Monday] last; we expect 3 more next 7th day night, but how we shall dispose of them we have not yet determined; it will depend on circumstances. Judge Layton has been on with a friend to Richmond, Virginia, and fully identified the two Bradley boys that were kidnapped by Clem Rust. He has the assurance of the Judge there that they will be tried and their case decided by Delaware Laws, by which they must be declared free and returned here. We hope to be able to bring such proof against both Rust and the man he sold them to, who took them out of the State, to teach them a lesson they will remember.

Thy friend,

Letter 4: to J. M. McKim, head of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society,
and William Still

Close Reading Questions

26. What incentive was offered to surrender the fugitives described in this letter?
A reward of $1,000 was offered for four of the five fugitives.

27. From the context of this letter what type of person can you infer is “a man of tried integrity?”
He is a man who can be trusted.

28. Summarize the two pieces of “good news” that Garrett conveys in his letter.
He states that the he sent five fugitives to safety last week, and he found four fugitives who he had feared were lost and sent them to Pennsylvania.

29. Garrett refers to Jesse Perry, the same man from letter two, who attempted to trap him into revealing the location of fugitives. Perry was a free black man who cooperated with slave catchers. Garrett found the fugitive in question but did not find the wife and children. Why had the group split?
The wife and children had grown tired and been left with “a colored family in Cecil.”

30. What happened to the man from the group?
He made it into Garrett’s care.

31. What happened to the wife and children of the group?
They were found by the “owner and sheriff” after they hunted for five days.

32. From this letter what can you infer about the prospect of families escaping?
It was difficult for families, especially ones with children. They could not maintain the physical exertion necessary and could be recaptured.

33. From this letter what danger can you infer was always present for fugitives?
The danger of recapture was always present.

WILMINGTON, 9th mo. 6th, 1858.
ESTEEMED FRIENDS, J.M. McKIM AND WM. STILL:— I have a mixture of good and bad news for you. Good in having passed five of God’s poor safely to Jersey, and Chester county, last week; and this day sent on four more, that have caused me much anxiety. They were within twenty miles of here on sixth day [Friday] last, and by agreement I had a man out all seventh day night watching for them, to pilot them safely, as 1,000 dollars reward was offered for four of the five; and I went several miles yesterday in the country to try to learn what had become of them, but could not hear of them. A man of tried integrity just called to say that they arrived at his house last night, about midnight, and I employed him to pilot them to a place of safety in Pennsylvania, to-night, after which I trust they will be out of reach of their pursuers. Now for the bad news. That old scoundrel, who applied to me some three weeks since, pretending that he wished me to assist him in getting his seven slaves into a free state, to avoid the sheriff, and which I agreed to do, if he would bring them here; but [I] positively refused to send for them. Ten days since I received another letter from him, saying that the sheriff had been there, and taken away two of the children, which he wished me to raise money to purchase and set free, and then closed by saying that his other slaves, a man, his wife, and three children had left the same evening and he had no doubt I would find them at a colored man’s house, he named, here, and wished me to ascertain at once and let him know. I at once was convinced he wished to know so as to have them arrested and taken back. I found the man had arrived; but the woman and children had given out [grown tired], and he left them with a colored family in Cecil. I wrote him word the family had not got here, but said nothing of the man being here. On seventh day evening I saw a colored woman from the neighborhood; she told me that the owner and sheriff were out hunting five days for them before they found them, and says there is not a greater hypocrite in that part of the world. I wrote him a letter yesterday letting him know just what I thought of him.

Your Friend, 

Letter 5: to William Still, December 1, 1860

Close Reading Questions

34. According to this letter, what type of assistance was Garrett providing the fugitives?
He was providing financial assistance, paying for a pilot as well as transportation.

35. Based upon your knowledge of politics in 1860 what reason could you suggest that might explain why there would there be “much more risk on the road?”
This letter was after the election of 1860 in which Abraham Lincoln won the presidency. The secession movement had gained significant momentum.

36. From context, who are the “poor, worthless wretches?”
They are slave catchers “on the look out” for fugitives.

37. What danger to fugitives does this letter represent?
Slave catchers represented a constant danger to fugitives.

Activity: From the Fugitive's ViewActivity: From the Fugitive’s View
Trace Frederick Douglass’s escape from slavery and the dangers he experienced along the way.
According to William Still, this was Harriet Tubman’s last trip south.

WILMINGTON, 12th mo., 1st, 1860.
RESPECTED FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:— I write to let thee know that Harriet Tubman is again in these parts. She arrived last evening from one of her trips of mercy to God’s poor, bringing two men with her as far as New Castle [Delaware]. I agreed to pay a man last evening, to pilot them on their way to Chester county; the wife of one of the men, with two or three children, was left some thirty miles below, and I gave Harriet ten dollars, to hire a man with carriage, to take them to Chester county. She said a man had offered [his services] for that sum, to bring them on. I shall be very uneasy about them, till I hear they are safe. There is now much more risk on the road, till they arrive here, than there has been for several months past, as we find that some poor, worthless wretches are constantly on the look out on two roads, that they cannot well avoid more especially with carriage, yet, as it is Harriet who seems to have had a special angel to guard her on her journey of mercy, I have hope.

Thy Friend,
N.B. We hope all will be in Chester county to-morrow.

Follow-Up Assignment

African Americans served major roles in the abolition movement. While Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman may be the best known, there were many others. Choose one of the activists below and research his or her life and contributions. Based upon your research create a Prezi, Animoto, YouTube video, or other presentation as directed by your teacher that highlights your chosen individual. Share your results with your classmates.

  • William Still (headed the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee)
  • Bishop Richard Allen (Philadelphia)
  • David Walker (writer)
  • Josiah Henson (established a school for fugitives in Ontario, Canada)
  • Maria Stewart (writer and speaker)
  • James Forten (Philadelphia)
  • James McCune Smith (speaker and writer)
  • Charles Remond (lecturer)
  • David Ruggles (journalist)
  • Sojourner Truth (speaker)
  • Henry Garnet (minister)
  • William Cooper Nell (journalist)
  • William Whipper (Columbia, Pa., office manager)
  • Jermain Lougen (Syracuse, NY, writer and UGRR guide)
  • James W.C. Pennington (writer and speaker)
  • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (lecturer and UGRR guide)
  • William Wells Brown (UGRR guide, writer and speaker)
  • Samuel Ringgold Ward (writer and UGRR guide)
  • Solomon Northup (writer)
  • Abraham D. Shadd (UGRR guide)
  • Samuel Burris (UGRR guide)
  • Harriet Jacobs (writer)

Vocabulary Pop-Ups

  • oblige: be grateful to
  • commotion: noisy disturbance
  • confidant: person keeping a secret
  • secreted: hidden
  • scoundrel: dishonest person
  • villain: evil person
  • ascertain: to make sure of


  • Still, William. The Underground Railroad A Record Of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &C., Narrating The Hardships, Hair-Breadth Escapes And Death Struggles Of The Slaves In Their Efforts For Freedom, As Related By Themselves And Others, Or Witnessed By The Author. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 822 Chestnut Street, 1872. Release Date: March 5, 2005 [EBook #15263]