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The Beginning of the Underground Railroad During the years prior to the Civil War many people in the United States greatly opposed slavery Far from being passive victims waiting to be rescued enslaved blacks never ceased in their struggle for freedom From the moment Africans were captured in the interior and coastlands of West Africa to the time they were sold as slaves in the Caribbean and the new colonies of North America black slaves acted as aggressively as possible to maintain their own African heritage and seek freedom1 Drawing on their cultural strengths and traditions Africans survived resisted and escaped There is no time during the history of slavery in America that enslaved blacks did not resist in whatever way circumstances would allow Thus their efforts laid the first tracks of the Underground Railroad2 The Underground Railroad is the continuation of the compelling story of resistance and struggle of slaves in their quest for freedom The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad but a secret network of safe houses and antislavery activists -black white and Native American- who helped slaves escape to freedom The Underground Railroad was in fact an informal yet intricate network of routes leading north eventually to Canada By virtue of its covert nature the Underground Railroad was also the story of codes and secrets involving cunning systems of visual and oral communication known only to those involved and reflecting the indomitable spirit of peoples resistance to slavery and desire to be free3 Consequently there were many groups and individuals who took the time to help slaves These groups sometimes risked their lives and the lives of slaves to help them to freedom Among the main groups of people who helped slaves escape from bondage were Members of the Society of Religious Friends commonly called Quakers The Underground Railroad held a certain idealism that motivated Quakers to join in helping slaves escape from bondage The story
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