The Underground Railroad

Black woman helped off a boat in the middle of night.
Arrival of 15 escaped slaves from Norfolk, Virginia. Image courtesy: NPS

New Bedford became a popular stop on the Underground Railroad. Its successful whaling industry created job opportunities for people of all backgrounds, both at sea and in the shoreside businesses that supported whaling.

Additionally, the large Quaker population and population of free people of color meant protection, while the coastal trading system provided opportunities to hide aboard vessels leaving southern ports. By the 1840s, New Bedford was home to 300-700 escaped slaves.


Last updated: July 14, 2021

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