Slave Quilts

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Submitted By alyssar
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Slave Quilts

Slave Quilts

There is an interesting legend that in the early and mid-1800's, slaves in America's southern states developed a secret code to help refugee slaves escape to the Northern states for freedom. Legend has it that they would make quilts and hang them in the window or on the clothesline out side. So when escaped slaves would see these quilts they would know if it was safe there or if they were going the correct way. The quilts were made with different patterns/ images, for example if the quilt had a wagon wheel it would tell the slave to leave that it wasn’t safe their. Some also had a North Star pattern that meant they were going the correct way North. They used patterns to communicate because slaves did not know how to read or write it was against the law for a slave to know how to read or write. The plantation owners had no idea about the hidden messages they only saw a quilt and a slave hanging laundry. This was during the Underground Railroad; so not only did slaves make these quilts but also the Americans that were apart of the Underground Railroad.

QUILT PATTERNS & THEIR MEANINGS

*Monkey Wrench
This meant the slaves were to gather all the tools they might need on the journey to freedom. Tools meant: something with which to build shelters, compasses for determining direction, or tools to serve as weapons for defending themselves.
*Wagon Wheel
This was the second pattern to be displayed, which signaled the slaves to pack all the things that would go in a wagon or that would be used during their journey. This was a signal for the slaves to think about what essentials they needed to survive the trip.
*Carpenter’s Wheel (Wagon Wheel variation)
This pattern would have particular significance to slaves skilled in a craft— such as carpentry. (Other such patterns might be: an Anvil, Circular Saw, Square and Compass.)…...

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