Maryland: The Most Powerful Underground Railroad Storytelling Destination in the World!

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Once home to a large population of recently emancipated slaves and sympathetic whites, and with a
location close to the border of the free northern states, as well as access to the Chesapeake Bay and its
intricate river system; it is no wonder that Maryland helped to pave the way to freedom and became the
epicenter of the most powerful Underground Railroad storytelling destinations.
Many of the best known abolitionists emerged from Maryland, including Frederick Douglass –
accomplished orator and statesman. Also hailing from Maryland, famous Underground Railroad
Conductor Harriet Tubman escaped slavery, but bravely returned to lead approximately 70 enslaved
people to freedom. Josiah Henson, whose story of slavery became the inspiration for Harriet Beecher
Stowe’s famous book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, possessed Maryland roots as well.
Additionally, Maryland slave owners often sought to increase their income by hiring out their slaves to
work for other farms and businesses. This resulted in many slaves traveling through ports where they
became more familiar with their surroundings and learned about opportunities for freedom and of
potential escape routes. Black sailors and dock workers also inspired hope among the enslaved with
stories of free, self-sufficient, literate African-Americans living in states just to the north. These
particular slaves that traveled to other locations also tended to spend less time under the scrutiny of an
overseer, sometimes limiting their risk of being captured while attempting to escape.
So you can see why Maryland can proudly lay claim to the title of a state whose history largely shaped
the journey to freedom.

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