Underground Railroad Timeline
Timeline Description: The Underground Railroad (1790s to 1860s) was a linked network of individuals willing and able to help fugitive slaves escape to safety. They hid individuals in cellars, basements and barns, provided food and supplies, and helped to move escaped slaves from place to place.

Date Event
1790 Isaac T. Hopper Began Helping Fugitive Slaves(1790s)

During the 1790s, Isaac T. Hopper began the process of organizing the Underground Railroad, creating a network of safe spaces for fugitive slaves.
1820 Route from North Carolina to Indiana Established(1820s)

As early as the 1820s, the first long-distance route, with multiple stops, was established. This route could successfully transport slaves all the way from North Carolina to Indiana.
1826 Indiana Quakers Created Secret Rooms

By 1826, Quakers in Indiana were building hidden, secret rooms in their homes, and false bottoms in their wagons. This enabled them to safely transport and hide fugitive slaves.
1833 American Anti-Slavery Society Founded

With growing abolitionist sentiments in the North, the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1833; Americans had been exposed to progressively more criticism of slavery in preceding years.
1830 David Ruggles and Isaac Hopper Created NYC Underground Railroad(1830s)

David Ruggles, with assistance from Isaac Hopper, created the New York City network of the Underground Railroad. During his lifetime, David Ruggles provided direct assistance to more than 6000 fugitive slaves, including Frederick Douglass.
1841 Establishment of the Dawn Institute

Josiah Henson established the Dawn Institute. The Dawn Institute helped former slaves adapt to their new lives, teaching trades and essential skills.
1844 Adopted Language of the Railroad

As the railways spread across America, the Underground Railroad, for the first time, took on the language of the railroad. Individuals working the Underground Railroad were called conductors, and safe places, stations.
1848 Thomas Garrett Tried and Acquitted

In 1848, Thomas Garrett, a key figure on the Underground Railroad, was tried for his involvement in assisting fugitive slaves and acquitted.
1850 Fugitive Slave Act Passed

The Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1848. This required all individuals, including those in free states, to help in the capture and return of fugitive slaves.
1850 Harriet Tubman Escaped

Harriet Tubman escaped slavery in 1850. She went onto become one of the most important conductors on the Underground Railroad, not only assisting individuals, but also going into the South to bring fugitive slaves to the North.
1853 Support for Underground Railroad Grew

By 1853, support for the Underground Railroad grew rapidly. More people were willing to offer assistance to fugitive slaves, regardless of the law.
1861 Civil War Began

The Civil War began with the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861. While the North fought to preserve the Union, slavery soon fell.
1861 Emancipation(1861 to 1865)

The violence of the Civil War provided opportunities for freedom and escape, even before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864.