Josiah Henson Park
The Josiah Henson Park is a National plantation property where Josiah Henson was enslaved. Josiah was a reverend, escaped slave, Underground Railroad conductor, and author who wrote an autobiography in 1849 called "The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada". This novel was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin". The park is part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program, and is located on the Isaac Riley farm where Josiah worked as a slave from 1795-1830.
Backstory and Context
The Underground Railroad was a network of people that helped escaped slaves reach their freedom. It operated somewhere between the late 18th century and the Civil War.
"The earliest mention of the Underground Railroad came in 1831 when slave Tice Davids escaped from Kentucky into Ohio, and his owner blamed the Underground Railroad for helping him". (History.com, 2009). Most of the escaped slaves were helped across borders of Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland where there were several secret routes and safe houses for them to stay. British North America (Canada) was the most popular destination because of slavery being abolished there. The conductors were known as the guides who helped the escaped slaves. The leading abolitionist was Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman risked her life to save hundreds of escaped slaves via the Underground Railroad. She also worked for the Union Army as a spy during the Civil War. She traveled 90 miles to her destination of freedom in Pennsylvania.
“When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.” (Biography.com, 2017).
History.com. Underground Railroad. Accessed November 15, 2017. http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/underground-railroad.
Biography.com. Harriet Tubman. August 02, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2017. https://www.biography.com/people/harriet-tubman-9511430.