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Canadian History for Kids: Underground Railroad Facts For Kids

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks the Underground Railroad. This story is a apart of our continuing Black History Month series.

Underground Railroad Facts For Kids!

During the seventeenth century, Africans were brought to the United States to work as slaves.

By the mid-nineteenth century, slavery was a very common thing in the southern part of the United States.

Plantation owners used slaves to work their farms. Many of them picked cotton that was sold to clothing factories in Britain.

In the early 1800s, people known as abolitionists started an anti-slavery movement, and they worked to set up the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad was a secret network of “safe houses” that were used to help slaves reach Canada, where slavery was strictly forbidden!

Estimates state that 30,000 to 40,000 African-Americans risked their lives to escape to either Canada or Mexico.

Professional bounty hunters stalked them so that they could return the slaves back to the plantation owners. Many African-Americans died while trying to escape to freedom.

It was also very dangerous for people to help the fleeing African-Americans, because if they were caught helping them, they could end up in jail or worse!

The fugitive African-Americans would travel at night following the big dipper and the North Star.

During the day, they would stay in safe houses. Often people who ran the safe houses would hang a lit lantern outside their homes letting the fugitives know their house was “safe.”

The fugitives arrived at points as far east as Nova Scotia and as far west as British Columbia, but most African-Americans landed in Southwestern Ontario.

Many of the fugitives went to the Dawn settlement (present day Dresden, Ontario), which had been started by a fugitive African-American named Josiah Henson.

This settlement was well established by 1842 and had a school, the British-American Institute, where African-Americans could be educated.

The settlement included farms, a gristmill, and a sawmill. Abolitionists in the United States gave money to support the Dawn Settlement.

The book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was apparently based on the life of Josiah Henson.

Keep following Canadian History for Kids, as we continue to bring you articles for our Black History Month special.

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