Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland

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About the Book

Between 1783 and 1860, more than 100,000 enslaved African Americans escaped across the border between slave and free territory in search of freedom. Most of these escapes were unaided, but as the American anti-slavery movement became more militant after 1830, assisted escapes became more common. Help came from the Underground Railroad, which still stands as one of the most powerful and sustained multiracial human rights movements in world history.
This work examines and interprets the available historical evidence about fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad in Kentucky, the southernmost sections of the free states bordering Kentucky along the Ohio River, and, to a lesser extent, the slave states to the immediate south. Kentucky was central to the Underground Railroad because its northern boundary, the Ohio River, represented a three hundred mile boundary between slavery and nominal freedom. The book examines the landscape of Kentucky and the surrounding states; fugitive slaves before 1850, in the 1850s and during the Civil War; and their motivations and escape strategies and the risks involved with escape. The reasons why people broke law and social convention to befriend fugitive slaves, common escape routes, crossing points through Kentucky from Tennessee and points south, and specific individuals who provided assistance—all are topics covered.

About the Author(s)

The late J. Blaine Hudson was a professor of Pan-African studies and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville.

Bibliographic Details

J. Blaine Hudson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: photo, 12 maps, 18 tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4685-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0422-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Maps and Tables ix

Preface 1

1 Introduction 3

2 The Borderland 11

3 Fugitive Slaves 31

4 The Anatomy of Slave Escapes 55

5 Friends of the Fugitive in the Kentucky Borderland 71

6 The Underground Railroad: Escape Routes, Corridors, Crossing Points and

7 Individuals and Cases of Note 129

8 Conclusion: The Desperate and the Brave 155

Appendix I: The Kentucky Borderland 167

Appendix II: Kentucky Underground Railroad Workers 173

Notes 177

Bibliography 191

Index 199

Book Reviews & Awards

“packed between the covers of this slender book is a significant discussion of the complex history of fugitive slaves and the nebulous subject of the Underground Railroad…well-documented”—Courier-Journal; “fascinating…informed…groundbreaking…required reading”—The Civil War News; “a valuable resource”—The Civil War Courier; “timely and welcome…useful data”—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society; “impressive”—Ohio Valley History.