Lecture Description

Americans have a great fascination with the Underground Railroad. We celebrate those who took the risk to flee from enslavement and we also celebrate those Americans, Black and White, who helped freedom seekers. But we often forget that those who helped fugitive slaves were in fact breaking the law. Some went to jail for their humanitarian acts; others suffered tremendous financial losses. How do we explain this? And how should Americans today think about this. This lecture explains the fugitive slave laws and the risks people took in violating them and explains the difference between “rescue” and humanitarian civil disobedience – which describes the Underground Railroad – and violent opposition to law or the political process either for personal gain or ideologically based anger.

CATEGORIES

Antebellum Slavery

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