Slavery was a cruel thing that started very early in the United States. It was a time that brought slaves from Africa to Southern US, to work for their masters on plantations or fields. Slavery was very unpleasant, and many slaves wished it would end, but they knew nothing could end it. It went on for hundreds of years, without attempts to end it, until a slave escaped to freedom. Many slaves heard about it, telling other slaves about a slave escaping through an "underground railroad". This was one of many abolition movements, and one of the strongest, which freed about 4,000 slaves a year.
The Underground Railroad was not actually underground, but was a trail to freedom, which was about 560 miles. It was a secret network in the period before the Civil War, through which systematic and organized aid was given to fugitive slaves. It was established by the 1830's. The first person ever to escape through the Underground Railroad was Tice Davis. When other people found out, railroad terms were applied to the journey, when talking about it. Slaves were known as "parcels" or "passengers", and people who helped slaves were known as "conductors". Places or homes where runaway slaves could rest and be safe were known as "deports" or "stations", and people who ran those places were known as "stationmasters".
Slaves were brought from plantations singly or in groups. They were usually young men under 30, but female and older slaves weren't uncommon runaways. They would travel towards the North, stopping occasionally at the "stations" to rest and be fed by the "stationmasters". A strong, lucky runaway may have made it in two months, but others may have lasted a year. They would be transported by wagons, ships, or by foot, towards the North.
Slaves led into freedom, headed towards North, especially for Canada, in which slavery was illegal. Although the North was a free area, the Fugitive Slave Act led the runaway slaves into problems.