Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad focuses on seaborne escapes of enslaved African Americans along the eastern seaboard.
Contemporary scholarship and teaching about the Underground Railroad focus almost exclusively on overland escape routes. However, new research reveals that multitudes of enslaved persons made their way to freedom using coastwise water routes – especially from ports and coastal areas in the far South, where waterfront employment by slaves was universal. Seaborne travel provided the only practical escape method from the coastal deep South, because fleeing long distances overland was too slow, too dangerous, and too logistically complicated. Of the documented successful escapes from the far South, almost all were achieved by sea.
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