4 thoughts on “02 Underground Railroad”

  1. Martin was the station master in North Carolina that brought Cora home with him and hid her in the attic for several months. He was a reluctant abolitionist who inherited the underground station from his father, thinking when his father died that his dad’s big secret was some kind of hidden fortune and not the underground railroad station. He turned out to be a kind man who appeared to genuinely care about Cora.

  2. Ethel was married to Martin. At first she was somewhat hateful to Cora, but she eventually came around to being one of her helpers. Turns out she had her own reasons to “save” Cora. Ethel grew up with slaves who worked in her home. She thought a “slave was someone who lived in your house like family but was not family” Her father taught her that negroes “were the descendants of cursed, black Ham, who had survived the Flood by clinging to the peaks of a mountain in Africa.” Ethel thought if they were cursed, they required Christian guidance all the more.”

    I remember the story of Ham from my days in Sunday School. The story is that right after the flood Noah planted a vineyard, got drunk from the wine he made and fell asleep in his tent naked. Ham entered the tent, saw his naked father and told his two brothers about it. His brothers entered the tent backwards and covered their father up. When Noah woke up he cursed Ham, and Ham’s son Canaan, for seeing him drunken and naked:

    “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard; And he drank of the wine and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew aht his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” (Genesis 9: 20-27)

    As a child, I thought it was ridiculous that Noah would do such a think because he was embarrassed, but I also thought it equally ridiculous to believe that this is what made black people condemned to slavery. But there are people who believe this…..even today!

  3. Ridgeway is the relentless, cruel slave hunter who hunted Cora down. I found it interesting that he referred to slaves as “it” (He asked Cora, “Lovey — was that its name?” when he referred to the young girl who ran away with her)

    Ridgeway also held hateful beliefs about the Indians: “The type of individuals in his employ had made him accustomed to explaining the most elementary facts and history: They sat on what was once Cherokee land, he said, the land of their red fathers, until the president decided otherwise and ordered them removed. Settlers needed the land, and if the Indians hadn’t learned by then that the white man’s treaties were entirely worthless, Ridgeway said, they deserved what they got.” “when they got to Oklahoma there were still more white people waiting for them, squatting on the land the Indians had been promised in the latest worthless treaty. Slow learners, the bunch.”

    I wished that Cora had killed him when she had the chance. She certainly showed him more mercy than he showed her.

  4. Homer is a young black boy that Ridgeway bought and freed, but who stuck with Ridgeway and worked for him. When Cora asked Ridgeway, “If he’s free, why don’t he go?” Ridgeway responds with “Where? He’s seen enough to know a black boy has no future, free papers or no. Not in this country. Some disreputable character would snatch him and put him on the block lickety-split. With me, he can learn about the world. Find purpose.”

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