The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (A comprehensive History) by Wilbur H. Siebert (1898) is a detailed history of the system of the Underground Railroad that helped a large number of slaves escape during Antebellum to Canada and Northern States…
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Siebert’s narrative is based on a comprehensive research expanding over fifty years. The book is an interesting compilation of various forms of writings such as speeches, letters, biography as well as direct narratives. The author begins with a detailed description of the various sources - articles in periodicals, contemporaneous documents, and collections of reminiscences - that have been used to write this book. As many locals were aiding the escape of slaves, the author chronicles the events that led to the draft of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1793, by which helping slaves escape was declared as an offence. This high level of ill-treatment resulted in the deep desire among the slaves to attain freedom. At this time, they also began to hear about the favorable condition in Canada. Soon, the Underground Railroad system began to develop in Ohio, Iowa and Illinois. The author further talks about the abduction of slaves from the south and how the local people assisted in helping the slaves escape and lead a better life in a place where they have enough freedom. The operations of the Underground Railroad were also done through innovative ways like midnight service and the passing on of cryptic messages.Slaves hid in hiding places and resorted to disguises. Committees of vigilance were formed in places like Boston and Philadelphia and supplies for passengers were also arranged. The Underground Railroad soon became a much formalized process as people took up the responsibilities of being the Underground Agents, Station Keepersor conductors. Here, the author also gives credit to those who stepped forward as Underground helpers and commends the efforts of people like Gerrit Smith and Elijah P. Lovejoy, Seth Concklin, Charles T. Torrey, Calvin Fairbank and so on. As Canada was considered to be the safest haven for the escaped slaves, author moves on to chronicle the life of colored people in Canada, where the refugees had better circumstances than what they have undergone.The natives in Canada were receptive and open to these refugees and welcomed them to share their land and resources. To give this compilation a comprehensive view, the author brings into light, the concepts of denial of jury, arrest without legal process and the penalties for aiding the fugitives. The author tracks the subject of Underground Railroads in terms of political aspects by looking at the rules of extradition, the demand for slave laws, slave agitation, anti-slavery movement and so on. The proclamation of emancipation of slaves as well as the repeal of the anti-slavery laws is also discussed in detail. In the end, the writer proceeds to unearth facts about the loss faced by the slave owners, the census reports on the fugitive slaves, the fugitive slave controversy, and how all this led to the Civil War that ultimately to the abolition of slavery in the United States of America. It presents a poignant account of the slaves lives and conditions and elucidates the struggles and the vigour with which the Underground Rail was used during the highly politically volatile environment of the times. The book is therefore a useful documentary on the growth and spread of the freedom spirit among the slaves and meticulously details the antecedent conditions that led to the great Civil War. THE ABOVE SECTION IS SUMMARY AND IS 501 WORDS OR 2 PAGES THIS SECTION BELOW IS INCLUDED IN YOUR INSTRUCTIONS Criticize or comment on each of the following about the book: • Organization – The book is organized into 11chapters with each chapter dealing with a critical aspect of the Underground Railroad. The book has been organized with clarity, according to chronology as well as according to particular context. For example, the author
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