Underground Railroad

Detroit’s Role in Helping Free Enslaved Americans

Geographically Detroit is relatively close both to many southern states where slavery was legal before the Civil War and to Canada, where beginning in 1833 slavery was illegal and all efforts to recapture formerly enslaved individuals was considered kidnapping.  Because of this, before the Civil War, Detroit was the last stop in the United States for many enslaved people being conveyed to freedom along the “Underground Railroad,” a secret pathway operated by “conductors” who led the escapees from one safe house to another.

Found here are accounts of individuals with first-hand knowledge of the Underground Railroad in Detroit, important happenings regarding abolitionism in the Detroit area, biographies of some of those involved in operating the Underground Railroad, and images of some of the safe houses in the Detroit area as well as the Detroit River during this period.