Underground Railroad Chronology
Jamestown, Virginia, settled by English Colonies.
Twenty Africans are shipped to Jamestown, Virginia, on Dutch Ships.
Massachusetts colony legalizes slavery.
Virginia colony enacts law to fine those who harbor or assist runaway slaves.
Virginia colony legalizes slavery.
North Carolina colony enacts laws to prosecute any person caught assisting runaways.
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society is established to protect fugitives and freed blacks unlawfully
held in bondage.
North American colonies declare independence from Great Britain.
Vermont became the first U.S. territory to abolish slavery.
Northern states abolish slavery through state constitutions.
Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery
Northwest Ordinance prevents slavery to exist in the new federal territories. Free African Society
of Philadelphia, an abolitionists group, is organized by Richard Allen and Absolm Jones.
Fugitive Slave Act becomes a federal law. Allows slaveowners, their agents or attorneys to seize
fugitive slaves in free states and territories.
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is established in Philadelphia, PA.
Nat Turner and John Brown are born. Gabriel Prosser stages an unsuccessful slave insurrection
in Henrico County, VA.
Underground Railroad is "incorporated" after slaveowner, Gen. Thomas Boudes of Columbia, PA
refuses to surrender escaped slave to authorities.
Seminole Wars begin in Florida as a result of many slaves taking refuge with Seminole Indians.
As a response to the Fugitive Slave Act (1793), abolitionists use the "underground" to assist slaves
to escape into Ohio and Canada.
Missouri Compromise admits Missouri and Maine as slave and free states, respectively. The
measure establishes the 36 degree, 30' parallel of latitude as a dividing line between free and
slave areas of the territories.
Kentucky representatives present resolution to Congress protesting Canada's reception of fugitive
Former slave Denmark Vesey performs a slave uprising in Charleston, SC.
Black abolitionist, David Walker issues David Walker's Appeal. Afterwards, severe slave revolts
occurred throughout the South.
Levi Coffin leaves North Carolina, settles in Indiana and continues abolitionist activities.
William Lloyd Garrison prints first issues of this anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator. Black
entrepreneur and abolitionist Robert Forten becomes chief financial supporter of the publication.
Nat Turner stages insurrection in Southampton County, VA.
Louisiana presents resolution requesting Federal Government to arrange with Mexico to permit
runaway slaves from Louisiana to be claimed when found on foreign soil.
National Antislavery Society organizes Underground Railroad as a response to pro-slavery
Underground Railroad is formally organized. Black abolitionist Robert Purvis, becomes chairman
of the General Vigilance Committee and "president" of the Underground Railroad.
Supreme Court rules in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that state officials are not required to assist in the
return of fugitive slaves.
Frederick Douglass prints Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an account of his slave
experience and escape to freedom.
Douglass edits anti-slavery newspaper, the North Star.
Harriet Tubman makes her escape from Maryland.
Compromise of 1850 attempts to settle slavery issue. As part of the Compromise, a new Fugitive
Slave Act is added to enforce the 1793 law and allows slaveholders to retrieve slaves in northern
states and free territories.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published as a response to the pro-slavery argument.
Supreme Court declares in Scott v. Sandford that blacks are not U.S. citizens, and slaveholders
have the right to take slaves in free areas of the county.
John Brown's failed raid on federal arsenal and armory in Harper's Ferry, Virginia which was
aimed at starting a general slave insurrection.
Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States.
Civil War begins.
President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation which declares "all persons held as
slaves within any state...be in rebellion against the United States shall be then...forever free."
Civil War ends.
Thirteenth Amendmentis amended to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery permanently.
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