Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
About the Underground Railroad
about the underground railroad
following the footsteps
eyewitness to history
figure it out
mapping it out
secrets: language, signs and symbols
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living history
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Have other countries ever had slavery?

Throughout history, many other countries in all parts of the world have also had slavery. Often slaves were captives of war. When one nation fought and defeated another nation, the victors seized some people and brought them home with them. When the Romans conquered Britain, for example, they took English slaves back to work in Italy. When the Romans conquered Greece, they brought Greek slaves back to Italy. Sometimes slaves are individuals that have been captured when there wasn't a war. Even today, in some parts of the world, people are kidnapped, taken away from their homes, and forced to labor for strangers. The United Nations is working hard to stop this terrible practice.

American slavery was particularly cruel for several reasons. Slaves were brought here from Africa, over 3000 miles away. There was no hope that they could ever return home. Slaves were slaves for life. No matter how hard they worked, slaves would not become free. Children of slaves were also slaves for life. Slaves had no right to appeal to the courts to change this. Slaves had few legal protections of any sort. No laws prohibited the separation of families. No laws protected slaves from physical violence. No laws guaranteed slaves the rights that modern people expect all individuals to enjoy. Life under slavery was particularly cruel in the United States.

Did all slaves in the United States come from Africa?

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