Many slaves who succeeded in escaping plantations in the South did so thanks to the Underground Railroad. Mostly they traveled to the northern states, but they were even safer if they reached as far as Canada. The Underground Railroad likely started somewhere in the 1820s, and guiding slaves to freedom was a multistep process. A "field agent" would be sent by free blacks to establish contact with a slave who wanted to run away. The agent would arrange for escape from the plantation and for the escaped slave to travel with a "conductor" to the first "station" (usually a house along the way, often with secret passages), a day's journey away. The "stationmaster" (usually the head of the household) was in charge of sheltering, feeding and often disguising the escaped slave. The slave would then continue from station to station, usually moving only at night, guided by the North Star. Benefactors, known as "stockholders," provided the money for bribes and other expenses for the escape.
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