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The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was a network of people who were against slavery and who wanted to help slaves escape to British North America where they could be free. They were Black, White and Native people, from both sides of the border. Many belonged to a religious group called the Quakers.
"Underground" meant that it was secret. There was no real railroad, just many secret routes leading north. Escaping was very dangerous. At times runaways had to hide in swamps and woods, hide by day, travel by night without food to eat, and walk hundreds of kilometres. Along the way there were people who were willing to hide, feed and guide slaves along the secret routes. Many of these people were ex-slaves who had already made it to British North America. They returned many times to help others escape too.
People escaping slavery got instructions about when and where to go in many different ways. Sometimes the instructions were put into spiritual songs based on Bible stories and sometimes messages were left in quilts. Secret passwords and signals such as bird calls and special knocks were sometimes used.