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The Underground Railroad

Timeline: Early Days & Slavery (1400s - 1865)
Early Days & Slavery The Amistad Mutiny
Building Democracy
Civil Rights Era
Modern Times

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Denmark Vesey, a freedman, plans a massive rebellion of thousands of slaves in Charlestown, South Carolina, but his plans are betrayed, and he and 34 others are hanged.

NPR Learn More: Interview with David Robertson, Author of "Denmark Vesey"
From All Things Considered

PBS Learn More: The Vesey Conspiracy
From Africans in America

The first African American newspaper in the U.S., Freedom's Journal, is published in New York by John Brown Russwurm and Samuel Cornish.

PBS Learn More: Freedom's Journal: A Newspaper Bio
From The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords

In his pamphlet "Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World," African American activist David Walker of Boston calls for a national slave rebellion.

PBS Learn More: David Walker's Appeal
From Africans in America

Approximately 75,000 slaves escape to the North and freedom using the Underground Railroad, a system in which free African American and white "conductors," abolitionists, and sympathizers guide, help, and shelter the escapees.

NPR Learn More: Underground Railroad
From All Things Considered

PBS Learn More: The Underground Railroad
From The Time of the Lincolns

Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrisons starts to publish The Liberator, a fiercely anti-slavery newspaper, in Boston.

PBS Learn More: The Liberator
From Africans in America

Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion in Virginia. Fifty-seven whites are killed, but Turner is eventually captured and executed.

NPR Learn More: Discussion of "1831: Year of Eclipse"
From All Things Considered

PBS Learn More: Nat Turner's Rebellion
Nat Turner's Rebellion

Henry Blair is the first African American to receive a patent, for a cotton-planting machine.

Slaves being transported aboard the Spanish ship Amistad take it over and sail it to Long Island. They eventually win their freedom in a Supreme Court case.

NPR Learn More: The New Amistad
From All Things Considered
Frederick Douglass publishes his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, an international bestseller.

PBS Learn More: Frederick Douglass
From Africans in America

Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery. She returns to the South and becomes one of the main "conductors" on the Underground Railroad, helping more than 300 slaves to escape.

NPR Learn More: The Story of Harriet Tubman
From The Tavis Smiley Show

PBS Learn More: Harriet Tubman
From Africans in America

Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act, which mandates government support for the capture of escaped slaves, and spurs widespread protest in the North.

PBS Learn More: The Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act
From Africans in America

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