Nearly a century after the American Revolution, the waters of the Ohio River provided a real and complex barrier for the United States to navigate. While this waterway was a symbol of freedom and equality for thousands of enslaved black Americans who had escaped from the horrible institution of enslavement, the Ohio River was also used to transport thousands of slaves down the river to the Deep South. Due to Cincinnati’s location on the banks of the river, the city’s economy was tied to the slave society in the South. However, a special cadre of individuals became very active in the quest for freedom undertaken by African American fugitives on their journeys to the North. Thanks to spearheading by this group of Cincinnatian trailblazers, the “Queen City” became a primary destination on the Underground Railroad, the first multiethnic, multiracial, multiclass human-rights movement in the history of the United States.
Author Bio: Richard C. Cooper, manager of content development and interpretation at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and Dr. Eric R. Jackson, associate professor of history and director of the black studies program at Northern Kentucky University, have compiled historical images from archives, libraries, and personal collections to illustrate the people, places, and events of the history of Cincinnati’s Underground Railroad.
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