Gateway To Freedom Summary

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The book titled Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad by Eric Foner examines in depth, as the name suggests, the Underground Railroad, but it also discusses the numerous abolitionist associations and the people, black and white, who conducted them. These abolitionist organizations and the Underground Railroad often went hand in hand with the abolitionist organizations assisting runaways and fugitives in their search for a new, better life either in the North or Canada. Many important cities are mentioned along with the Underground Railroad operatives who performed their duties there. However, the book focusses heavily on New York City, which would become “… a key battleground in the national struggle over slavery,” (Foner 46).
One of the subjects the book goes into is the numerable reasons that would cause a slave to run away and where they would try to go. Of these two, the latter surprised me but makes perfect sense after reading it. The majority of slaves who made it to the North came “… from the states that bordered on free soil [as it] proved far easier than from the cotton kingdom of the Lower South,” (Foner 16). Obviously, it was easier to abscond to the North when you are only a few dozen miles away, like in Maryland or Virginia. As a result, those in the Lower South usually tried to escape to New Orleans or Mobile to lose themselves in the sizeable free black population.
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Although many of these subjects expanded on previously known ideas, there was a lot I never knew. Besides interesting yet less impactful things like the escape of Henry “Box” Brown, I learned more about the hidden history of the Underground Railroad and the events and people that helped to aid the plight of the American

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