The recognitions honor the resistance and bravery of freedom seekers and their allies who risked their lives to resist slavery
The National Park Service (NPS) added 16 new sites to its National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom last month.
Per a statement, additions include historic homes, former plantations, cemeteries and educational sites in 11 states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New York and New Jersey.
The newly honored sites join a network of more than 700 locations across the United States and its territories. The NPS maintains an interactive map that lists the commemorative sites.
Launched in 1998, the network honors the enslaved people who resisted bondage by fleeing to freedom between the early 19th century and the American Civil War. According to PBS, historians estimate that some 100,000 freedom seekers managed to escape their captors between 1810 and 1850. Those who “rode” the Underground Railroad, as the loose network of escape routes came to be called, traveled between safe houses, often under the cover of night, with the goal of reaching Northern states and eventually Canada, where enslavement was outlawed.
The network’s expansion coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Harriet Tubman, who escaped bondage and became an abolitionist and well-known “conductor” of the railroad. As Liza Weisstuch recently reported for Smithsonian magazine, Tubman used her wits and encyclopedic knowledge of the natural landscape to lead around 70 people to freedom. Although the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 explicitly outlawed assisting freedom seekers along their journeys, the NPS notes that people “of all races, class and genders” helped them along the way.
“Like Harriet Tubman, the freedom seekers and allies highlighted in each Network to Freedom listing remind us of what can be accomplished when people take action against injustice,” says Diane Miller, national program manager of the Network to Freedom, in the statement. “Each listing holds a unique part of the Underground Railroad story.” […]