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There is evidence, however, that the Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman used at least two songs. In his preface to "Foller de Drinkin' Gou'd", page 227 in his section on reels, he quotes a story from H.Sarah Bradford's biography of Tubman, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, published in 1869, quotes Tubman as saying that she used Go Down Moses as one of two code songs to communicate with fugitive enslaved people escaping from Maryland. B Parks: "One of my great-uncles, who was connected with the railroad movement, remembered that in the records of the Anti-Slavery Society there was a story of a peg-leg sailor, known as Peg-Leg Joe, who made a number of trips through the South and induced young Negroes to run away and escape…
The main scene of his activities was in the country north of Mobile, and the trail described in the song followed northward to the headwaters of the Tombigbee River, thence over the divide and down the Ohio River to Ohio… teach this song to the young slaves and show them the mark of his natural left foot and the round hole made by his peg-leg.
He would then go ahead of them northward and leave a print made of charcoal and mud of the outline of a human left foot and a round spot in place of the right foot…
I thought I heard them say,/ There were lions in the way,/ I don’t expect to stay/ Much longer here/ was a favorite air and had a double meaning.
In the lips of some, it meant the expectation of a speedy summons to a world of spirits; but in the lips of our company, it simply meant a speedy pilgrimage toward a free state, and deliverance from all the evils and dangers of slavery." Douglass' observations here likewise do not serve as clear evidence of the successful use of coded song lyrics to aid escaping slaves; he is writing here only of his small group of slaves who are encouraging each other as they finalize their plans to escape, not of widespread use of codes in song lyrics.
Douglass similarly offers interesting comments but not clear evidence in My Bondage and Freedom: "A keen observer might have detected in our repeated singing of 'O Canaan, sweet Canaan, I am bound for the land of Canaan' something more than a hope of reaching heaven.
We meant to reach the north – and the north was our Canaan.
While many believe that the stories told about the songs of the Underground Railroad are true, there are also many skeptics.
Some claim that songs of the Underground Railroad is an urban legend dating from the later 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.
As it was illegal in most slave states to teach slaves to read or write, songs were used to communicate messages and directions about when, where, and how to escape, and warned of dangers and obstacles along the route.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating