Underground Railroad Facts for Kids

This post contains a series of Underground Railroad Facts For Kids!

Here are some 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.


Canadian History for Kids!