- from Underground Railroad
Every enslaved person wanted to be free, but few had the chance.
They had little hope of reaching free territory. Most escapes failed. If they got caught, runaways were beaten, jailed, or sold. Slave owners saw enslaved persons as valuable property and watched them closely. Many could not leave the plantation without written permission from their owners.
Once on the road, they could be stopped and questioned by anyone who saw them. In parts of the South, enslaved persons couldn’t ride trains. They couldn’t cross bridges without a special pass. Runaways usually traveled by night, on foot, with nothing to eat but the scraps they found or stole as they went. As they walked through swamps, they risked being bitten by poisonous snakes. If they didn’t find food, they starved. Until they reached the North, many lived on fruit and unripe corn taken from fields.