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The Liberty Line

The Legend of the Underground Railroad

Larry Gara

Publication Year: 2013

" The underground railroad -- with its mysterious signals, secret depots, abolitionist heroes, and slave-hunting villains -- has become part of American mythology. But legend has distorted much of this history. Larry Gara shows how pre-Civil War partisan propanda, postwar remininscences by fame-hungry abolitionists, and oral tradition helped foster the popular belief that a powerful secret organization spirited floods of slaves away from the South. In contrast to much popular belief, however, the slaves themselves had active roles in their own escape. They carried out their runs, receiving aid only after they had reached territory where they still faced return. The Liberty Line puts slaves in their rightful position: the center of their struggle for freedom.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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p. 1-1


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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-ix

Few Americans are unfamiliar with the romantic saga of the underground railroad, for its combination of righteous behavior and high drama are deeply imbedded in many minds. Though this story is compounded of both ...

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Preface to 1996 Edition

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pp. xi-xiv

My long journey on the underground railroad began nearly fifty years ago when I was a student in Paul Miller's United States history class at William Penn College in Iowa. For that class I ...

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1. The Legendary Railroad

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pp. 1-18

Thousands who attended the Columbian World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 saw a painting by Charles T. Webber entitled "The Underground Railroad"; this dramatic picture showed a large family of fugitives arriving ...

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2. Slavery and Freedom

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pp. 19-41

The lendary underground railroad carried its passengers "from Slavery to Freedom." The phrase, quoted from the title of Professor Siebert's history of the underground railroad, implies a simple and dramatic ...

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3. The Road to the North

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pp. 42-68

Thirty years after the Civil War an aged Illinois abolitionist recalled "I do not know of any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe, with ...

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4. A Deep-Laid Scheme

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pp. 69-92

Looking back across the years, a veteran of the underground railroad described it as a "deep-laid scheme, having in view the restoration of God-given rights to helpless, hunted fugitives, ... resulting in gradual ...

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5. Friends of the Fugitive

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pp. 93-114

The Underground Railroad appears to be quite a flourishing institution," reported the National Anti-Slavery Standard in the fall of 1856. The occasion for the comment was ...

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6. The Fugitive Issue

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pp. 115-142

If Ohio is ever abolitionized," wrote Samuel May, Jr., "it will be by the fugitive slaves from Kentucky; their Hight through the State, is the best lecture,--the pattering of their feet, that's ...

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7. The Roots of a Legend

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pp. 143-163

The Legend of the underground railroad began to take form in the period preceding the Civil War. Stories of the exploits of those abolitionists who actually assisted fugitive slaves were...

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8. Reminiscence and Romance

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pp. 164-194

When asked by a writer of local history where his mother had obtained her sources for Uncle Tom's Cabin, Charles Edward Stowe replied that he did not know. "You know the recollections ...


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pp. 195-201

E-ISBN-13: 9780813143552
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813108643

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2013