The Midwest was a magnet for fugitive slaves, and the region played a key part in the history of emancipation.
What we now call the Midwest was known before 1861 as the Old Northwest. Thomas Jefferson banned slavery from this region with the Northwest Ordinance, so these states had always been free. As such, the region was a magnet for runaway slaves, especially from the Upper South. Some of them remained in the region, while others moved on to Canada. The region also witnessed some dramatic conflicts between slavecatchers and fugitives, who were assisted by sympathetic blacks and whites. The Midwest played an important part in the history of emancipation.