Freedom at last Sometimes I think to myself, “Why am I here? Did I do something wrong to deserve this? Why do we always have to work late in the night almost every day, and barely get any food?” I would always ask my mom, “Why don’t we ever get any sleep, and why do we work so much?” “Melony.” My mother replied. “Your 15 years old now, you should know by now that were slaves now, and that there’s nothing that we can do about it, except pray that one day, this will all be over and we will be free.” Mr. Banks our Overseer (Master),is such a cruel man. He’s changed me and my parents first and last names because, if we had our original names, our master, would feel that we still have some sort of power of our own name and identity. Even our last names, would be changed to his. He wanted us to feel like we were slaves, and that we will always be controlled and never have a say in anything, and that we will always be his slave and property. I hated it. Whenever we talked to each other, we would get hit, or yelled at and told not to talk to each other. As we worked in the hot muggy sweaty summer day in the plantations , we would start singing a song called “Follow the Drinking Gourd’’ to get our minds off of the sweat, heat, and blisters on our hands and feet from all that working . This song, was about Slavery, in the Underground Railroad, and how there were these five stars in the sky, that made the shape of a drinking gourd, and led the way to freedom. As we were singing, I came up with a very risky idea. Some of the slaves and I and my parents, were going to escape from slavery to freedom. We were going to wait until it was late at night, and everyone was asleep, and we were going to sneak off and meet in the plantations. When we all met up, we started to make our way out. We were almost near the woods to make our way out, until we heard the guard dogs barking, and lights going off. We started running, as fast as we could, so that we didn’t get caught. We ran and hid into a big bush, until it was quiet and no one was around. Once it was quiet, we got out from the bushes, and started making our way again. We were so glad that none of us got caught. As we were walking, it started getting colder, and colder out, and then it started to rain. We were freezing. We had nothing to keep us warm in besides the ripped up clothes, that Mr. Banks provided us with. We all had to take our minds off of it, and keep on walking and to just think about the good things that will happen to us once we are free. As we were walking, we see smoke come from up in the air. We all see the smoke, and start following it. When we stopped walking, we all see this big house. We walk up to the house, and rang the doorbell. We were nervous at first because we didn’t know if we could trust this home or not. But, then we all realized that the family, had a lit lantern on their doorstep. Whenever you see a family with this on their doorstep, it means that they will welcome you in with opened arms, and that they were slave protectors. The door opened, and it was this couple. Their names were John and Lisa Smith. We asked them if they could help us escape, and if we could stay in their house until morning. They smiled and welcomed us in with opened arms. Lisa put on the fire place, and started to make us some tea so that we could get all warmed up, and feel at home, while John got us some dry clothes to put on. After we were all done talking and eating, we headed off to bed on the couches. It was sort of hard trying to sleep, knowing that there are slave hunters still out there, and that they could come in the middle of the night knocking on the door, asking if there are slaves in the house. The next night, we started making our way out again, and thanked the Smith family, for helping us. We were back into the woods, making our way to freedom. We still had to be extra careful because, even thought it was night again, there could still be slave hunters out there looking for us. We had about a mile or two left to go until we were free. We were all very exhausted from last night, but we didn’t want to
stop and rest because, we didn’t want to waste any more time. We had already been out in the woods for nearly two days now, and we didn’t want to make it three. We kept on walking, until we see a light and sign that says, “Welcome to South Georgia”. We started running and smiling with joy and tears in our eyes. I wasn’t confused anymore about being a slave. I was so glad to be free from slavery, and to start a new life with my family.
Author’s Note The Underground Railroad took place in 1834-1865. The Underground Railroad had many participants, including John Fair-field in Ohio, the son of a slave-holding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. Harriet Tubman (nicknamed “Moses” because of her efforts in helping other slaves escape through the Underground Railway), escaped slavery in in 1849, and came back to rescue her first slaves in 1850, and bring them to the North. Harriet then, she sent a message to her sister's oldest son that said for her sister and family to board a fishing boat in Cambridge. This boat would sail up the Chesapeake Bay where slaves would meet Harriet in Bodkin's Point. When they got to Bodkin's Point, Harriet guided them from safe house to safe house in Pennsylvania (which happened to be a free state) until they reached Philadelphia.12 million Africans, taken from their homeland, and sold into a life of slavery between the years of 1450 and 1850. The slaves’ owners, would strip their slaves naked, and whip and beat them until they were bloody front to back. Their masters would whip them for no reason at all. They would do it just when they felt it necessary if the slave wasn’t working hard enough or if they looked at their master in the eye. The slaves would be separated from
their homes and families. Slavery, was cruel, tore many families apart. The Underground Railroad was not restricted to overland routes; escapes slaves were transported by sea, lake, river, canal, and rail, when trains came into being. Slaves would work along the plantation fields, 6 long days a week. The slaves would work just to make their owners more and more rich. Their masters, don’t pay their slaves because, if they do, than their owners, wouldn’t have any money and would be broke. Some foods that they ate were rice, okra, Tania, black-eyed peas, cassava, yanis, and kidney and Lima beans. Slaves were forced to labor on coffee, tobacco, coco, cotton, and sugar. They would work in houses as servants, and could only wear the clothes that were provided for them by their masters. Their owners, would change their original last name to their owners because, their owners wanted their slaves to remember that they would always be slaves, will always be bought, and will never be free, and will always be the property of their masters. Two people named Levi and Catherine Coffin were legendary in helping many former slaves escape to the North, for freedom. Levi is often referred to as president of the Underground Railroad. A few miles at night, using the North Star as your map. Trying to avoid search parties. Life for a runaway slave was a hazard. The journey to freedom meant traveling on foot or by boat. -Natalie Joseph
Bibliography The Fight to end Slavery <http://library.thinkquest.org/J002047F/slaves_at_work.htm#>. This resource, is about slaves at work. Some specific facts that I learned were, about how the slaves worked, what they did, and what kinds of tools they used, and how they would have to work at all kinds of the nights, what certain jobs they had, what they were called for that specific job, and what kinds of jobs the adults would do, and what kind of jobs the children would do, and how they were so different from each other. Oracle Think Quest. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://library.thinkquest.org/J002047F/underground_railroad.htm>. This Whole resource is about the Underground Railroad, and how it all came to be. This web page, talks about what the Underground Railroad was, what it did, when it all started, and how it got its name. Some facts the resource included was, when the Underground railroad ended, when it started, Harriet Tubman, and why the Underground Railroad, was so important. PBS. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2944.html>. This Resource, tells about more information, on the Underground Railroad. Some more specific facts about the underground railroad, that I learned on this web-page is, it talked about fugitive slaves from Africa, and how they tried to escape to freedom, from slavery. “The Underground Railroad. The Journey.” National Geographic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2012 <http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/multimedia/interactive/the-undergroundrailroad/?ar_a=1>. This is a resource, about the Underground Railroad. Other specific
information about the Underground Railroad is, a woman named Harriet Tubman, and how she used to work as a slave, for many years, and how she finally escaped from slavery, to fulfill her dreams in life, and that when she finally escaped, she came back to rescue other slaves, including her parents and grandparents. It also talked about if you were a slave, what you would do, if you were also trying to escape from slavery, and where you would go, and how long it would take you to get there, and how you knew if it was safe or not, to where you were going.info-please. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2012. <http://www.infoplease.com/â€‹ipa/â€‹A0108201.html>. This resource, is about the state Atlanta, Georgia, and its climate, population, weather, and more. Some specific facts that this resource tells about is the Atlanta, Georgia flag, and facts about it.