All Slaves in Maryland were freed by the state's Constitution of 1864, and a new chapter was opened in the lives of African Americans. The fate of many fugitives and former slaves is unknown. Some fugitives settled in the North, and other retuned to Maryland to live near family members or find work. A few, like Harriet Tubman and Emily and Mary Edmonson, remain well-known today. the stories of fugitive slaves were featured in works such as The Refuge: or Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada by Benjamin Drew and The Underground Railroad by William Still. These books give personal accounts of the experience of flight, and when combined with original records, reveal the very human stories that are the key to understanding the Underground Railroad.

Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser 5 June 1860

Harriet Tubman escaped from Dorchester County in 1849, and returned many times to lead others to freedom. She later became an advocate for abolition and women's rights.

Discover more at slavery.msa.maryland.gov

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Biography:

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross in 1822, on the plantation of Anthony Thompson in Dorchester County, Maryland. Her parents, Rit Green and Ben Ross, were both slaves, whose masters had married in 1803. Harriet was hired out to various owners during her twenty-seven years in slavery, with the constant threat of being sold away looming over her. Though Tubman was treated cruelly throughout that time, she never fully submitted to the role of the contented, black slave.

When her owner, Edward Brodess died in 1849, Tubman saw an opportunity to escape from servitude. Harriet knew there was a distinct possibility that Brodessís heirs might sell her South, as had happened with several of her enslaved relatives. She successfully fled that fall, using only the North Star and help from a local white woman. After finding work as a domestic in Philadelphia, Tubman almost immediately began constructing plans to rescue family and friends from her native Maryland. The first such daring escape involved her niece Kessiah, who had to literally be rescued from the auction block in 1850.

From that point, Harriet made approximately 12 more trips to lead enslaved blacks from the Eastern Shore, settling most of them in the fugitive communities of St. Catharineís, Canada and Auburn, New York. With her clandestine network of accomplices that included William Still and Thomas Garrett, Tubman directly assisted in the flight of seventy to eighty people, while indirectly supporting many dozens more. She would continue her battle against slavery as a nurse and spy with the Union Army, during the Civil War. After more than 60 years of continued service to the cause of African-American rights, Harriet Tubman passed away in 1913 at her home in Auburn.

To learn more visit: Beneath the Underground Railroad

Biography:

Emily Catherine Edmonson was born in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1835, to parents Paul, a free black, and Amelia, a slave belonging to Rebecca Culver. One of fourteen children, Emily was raised a devout Methodist, and together with her sister Mary, was hired out by Culver to wealthy families in Washington D.C. At the age of thirteen, Emily, her sister Mary, and four of her brothers attempted to escape slavery on the Pearl - a merchant schooner belonging to Captain Edward Sayres. Emily's brother Richard discovered a rumor that slaves were planning to flee aboard the vessel, discussed the idea of escape with his other three brothers. The decision was made to inform Emily and Mary of the escape plans, and Samuel Edmonson went to tell them at the house where they worked in the city. Emily agreed to go only if Mary agreed, and as the case was so, the six siblings boarded the Pearl. The Edmonsons reached the docks on the evening of April 15, and along with seventy seven other slaves, hid underneath the cargo in the ship's hulls and awaited the coming journey.


To learn more visit: Beneath the Underground Railroad
Biography:

Mary Edmonson was born in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1833, to parents Paul, a free black, and Amelia, a slave belonging to Rebecca Culver. One of fourteen children, Mary was raised a devout Methodist, and together with her sister Emily, was hired out by Culver to wealthy families in Washington D.C. At the age of fifteen, Mary, her sister Emily, and four of her brothers attempted to escape slavery on the Pearl - a merchant schooner belonging to Captain Edward Sayres. Mary's brother Richard discovered a rumor that slaves were planning to flee aboard the vessel, discussed the idea of escape with his other three brothers. The decision was made to inform Mary and Emily of the escape plans, and Samuel Edmonson went to tell them at the house where they worked in the city. Mary sister Emily said that she would not go if Mary did not agree to go as well, thus Mary agreed, and as the case was so, the six siblings boarded the Pearl. The Edmonsons reached the docks on the evening of April 15, and along with seventy seven other slaves, hid underneath the cargo in the ship's hulls and awaited the coming journey.


To learn more visit: Beneath the Underground Railroad