America’s history is fascinating, but it also has some deeply painful parts.
One of the worst is the period of American slavery, when millions of African-Americans were enslaved and forced to live and work under brutal, dehumanizing conditions.
The institution started before the American Revolution and wasn’t abolished until 1863. During this time, men, women, and children suffered horribly.
However, these individuals were smart, resourceful, and determined. By the 19th century, secret routes leading from the southern states into the north and Canada had been established to shuttle escaping slaves to freedom.
Known as the Underground Railroad, this network was managed by both black and white Americans.
By 1850, it’s estimated that it helped 100,000 slaves to freedom. Major figures of the Underground Railroad included abolitionist Harriet Tubman, as well as many churches and clergy.
Naturally, this secret network of paths, routes, and safe houses needed to be kept very, very secret. So secret, sometimes, that they couldn’t even be spoken about.
Instead, secret codes and symbols were created to convey information to both escaping slaves and their allies. Secret codes have been used to convey precious information since ancient times, and also appeared during the American Revolution in the form of a written cipher.
One legendary code was the quilt code. Although historians are divided about the historical validity of the quilts, the idea is that quilt patterns would be used to signal fugitives while appearing to just be ordinary quilts, the kind stitched by skilled craftswomen every day.
Read on to discover the code that may have helped thousands of people to freedom.