Timeline: The Underground Railroad

A look at the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement in Canada.

Text by Canada’s History

Posted April 18, 2011



John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, passed the Anti-Slavery Act, making it illegal to bring people into Upper Canada to be enslaved.


The United Kingdom passed the Slave Trade Act, which outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire, though not slavery itself.


Slavery in the British colonies was finally ended via the Emancipation Act, though it took several years for many slaves to be fully released from bondage.


The Fugitive Slave Act was passed in the United States as part of the Great Compromise of 1850 between the Union and the Confederate states. The act allowed slave masters to enter free, northern U.S. states and reclaim escaped slaves. This prompted an increased use of the underground railroad to get into Canada.


The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada was established, founded by journalist and future father of Confederation George Brown.


Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a very influential novel to the anti-slavery movement, came out.


The American Civil War began.


U.S. president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in any of the rebellious Confederate states were free as of Jan. 1, 1863.


The Civil War came to an end when the Confederates surrendered in April. With the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery was finally abolished in United States.

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