- from Underground Railroad
Every enslaved person wanted to be free, but very few had the opportunity.
Most had little chance of reaching free territory. The majority of 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, runaways could be stopped and questioned by anyone who saw them. In parts of the South, enslaved persons could not ride trains or 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 waded through swamps, they risked being bitten by poisonous snakes. If they failed to find food, they starved. Until they reached the North, many lived on fruit and unripe corn taken from fields.