The Underground Railroad was a path leading from the South to the liberated North. It made “stops” in sympathizing cities and towns that provided shelter and board. The city of Rochester and the surrounding areas helped to play a leading role in the Underground Railroad movement. Rochester, which was conveniently located close to the Canadian border, served as one of the last stops in the Underground Railroad. Rochester was one of the last stops before fugitive slaves could for the first time in their lives be considered free men, upon their arrival in Canada.
Rochester had many specific locations that provided shelter for the passengers of the railroad. Some of the sites include; the Henry Quinby farm by Mendon Ponds Park, which today is by the Fieldstone Smokehouse, H. Richardson's farm on East Henrietta Road near Castle Road, the Warrant farm in Brighton which is now 1956 West Henrietta Road. These various locals show just how varied the stops were, and they show that Rochester was a hub of Underground Railroad activity.
Soon however, the United States government began taking measures to prevent this rapid freeing of slaves. In September of 1850, congress passed a law called the fugitive slave act. It was meant to settle tensions between the North and South by enacting more stringent codes on the transport of slaves. It required federal marshals and local law enforcement to arrest any suspected or accused runaway slave, or suffer a $1,000 fine. But the Underground railroad was such a tightly run organization that they successfully overcame the law, except for one occasion where a man named Henry Dixon was returned to the south as a slave. Despite this, most of the slaves that traveled on the Underground Railroad soon found their freedom in Canada.
Rochester’s role in the Underground Railroad was a very important one. It was the last leg of the journey towards freedom in Canada. Multiple stops and supporters show Rochester’s importance as both a safe...