What Price Freedom?The People and Stories of the Underground Railroad
FIRST STOP: A Character Encounter
Stop #1 of the Underground Railroad Experience begins as your class meets one of the important “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. Traveling through time and space ready to relate real life stories of successful flights to liberty that are at once troubling and inspirational. Somehow, the people, places and methods of the Underground Railroad have nearly been lost in the pages of history. Understandably the topics of slavery, abolition, and the Civil War are not easy to talk about, let alone to try to explain in the classroom. Yet to deny their existence obscures our past and limits our ability to appreciate and comprehend events of today.
The unexpected appearance of a free African-American of the 1850’s engages students emotionally, lifting the words off a history book, and bringing them to life. Harrowing stories of those “almost caught” and their personal experiences highlight the obstacles and risks each took to conduct their “passengers” along their journey to freedom.
The Underground Railroad Experience is available by reservation only, and for groups only.
Your students will encounter one of these local, lesser known, true-life African-American heroes:
Lydia Hamilton Smith
A prominent figure in the Abolitionist movement, she was best known as a businesswoman and long-time household manager for Thaddeus Stevens, a fierce opponent of slavery and discrimination against African Americans.
Born enslaved in Maryland, and freed at 16 in Pennsylvania, he became a wealthy businessman and an important “conductor” and “station master” on the Underground Railroad.
Born a freewoman in Maryland, she moved to Pennsylvania and helped freedom seekers find their way to Canada. She was also a noted poet and lecturer on the Abolitionist circuit.
Orphaned at the age of four, this self-made man was a farmer whose home was used to conceal freedom seekers as a stop on the Underground Railroad.