The exact date of the founding of the Underground Railroad is unknown. Still, in the early 1800s, free blacks with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and abolitionists had a network to help blacks escape slavery. That network eventually became the Underground Railroad, which helped a great number of black people gain their freedom. The Underground Railroad helped blacks escape going North, as well as escaping to Florida, and some to Mexico. As time passed and the number of blacks escaping slavery increased, slave labor began to decline, which affected the amount of money the plantation owners made from the slave labor. This gave rise to the “Reverse Underground Railroad”, where plantation owners hired men to recapture blacks escaping slavery. Some of the people recaptured were returned to their owners, and some of the people were resold for profits. The people who were recapturing the blacks were called anti-abolitionist. One of their recapturing methods was to disguise themselves as friendly abolitionist, only to mislead the people back into slavery.
Escaping slavery was an impossible task that many black people conquered. Taking up arms was necessary to protect themselves. The most famous and fierce conductor of the Underground Railroad is Harriet Tubman, but Aunt Polly Jackson was also a fierce conductor who was known for battling anti-abolitionist to help her people escape to freedom. I do not have any information on Aunt Polly’s early life. Because she escaped enslavement, we can assume she faced similar hardships to her counterparts. Aunt Polly escaped north along the Ohio River and found her freedom in a settlement called Africa in Ohio. Africa was a settlement created by blacks who escaped slavery. It allowed blacks to have land and create a life for their families. Aunt Polly was able to buy land and settle on a farm in Africa. Because Africa was located along the northern route of the Underground Railroad, residents living in Africa often helped blacks escape slavery. They were often victims of raids by anti-abolitionists. Aunt Polly witnessed the anti-abolitionist terrorizing her people, so she decided to help her people.
She became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she would carry a butcher's knife and a pot of boiling water. To disguise herself, she dressed as an older woman, the disguise allowed her to not be attacked by the anti-abolitionist because they didn’t see elderly blacks as a threat. Disguised and armed, Aunt Polly would help blacks to freedom and literally fight off anti-abolitionist attempting to reenslave black people from escaping slavery. She was so successful at fighting off anti-abolitionist that she gained a reputation in the settlement of Africa. Over time, Aunt Polly’s reputation grew with the anti-abolitionist, so she became more strategic with how she helped blacks escape. She began attacking the anti-abolitionist at night, using her butcher’s knife to stab and cut the anti-abolitionist, also throwing the pot of boiling water at the men. She became very known for pouring boiling hot water on a number of anti-abolitionist. Aunt Polly was not the only person fighting off anti-abolitionist, but she became famous because of her tact and success. She, along with others fighting for the freedom of enslaved blacks, helped to slow down and eventually end the anti-abolitionist system. I do not know exactly how old Aunt Polly was, but the information I have says she was a middle-aged woman battling grown men and coming out victorious. Aunt Polly’s birth and death are unknown, but I do know she put her life on the line to make sure her people could live life free and on their own terms. To Aunt Polly Jackson, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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