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Underground Railroad: Passover and the U.S. anti-slavery movement

Several historic U.S. anti-slavery leaders, including Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, leveraged the Holy Scripture's detailed record of the Hebrew Israelites Passover escape from Egyptian slavery.

Moses and Aaron were chosen by the Lord God to help lead the exodus from bondage, miracles celebrated annually in Israel to memorialize the Passover. (Genesis 12)

Similar to the exodus, Tubman escaped American slavery in 1849 by making trekking from Maryland to Philadelphia.

As a fugitive with a bounty on her head, she became a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad's secret tracks of safe houses and churches.

According to Tubman's 1869 autobiography titled "Scenes of the Life of Harriet Tubman," she used songs with coded lyrics to communicate with fugitive slaves.

Numerous spirituals and gospel songs include secret instructions, via metaphors and references, on how to break free from Deep South bondage.

Some of the hymns cite Moses and the Biblical phrase "Let my people go" because the words fit perfectly with historic Black American widespread experiences under oppressive yokes.

One such song, used by Tubman, is "Go Down Moses":

"When Israel was in Egypt's land, Let my people go, Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let my people go," the lyrics ring like the Liberty Bell.

The refrain also tolls: "Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt's land, Tell old Pharaoh 'Let my people go.'"

The Abolitionist Movement railroad was full steam ahead in the 1820s, and led to violent clashes including "Bloody Kansas" in 1856 and John Brown's slave revolt in Harper's Ferry, Virginia.

The anti-slavery train culminated in the American Civil War from 1861 - 1865.

Tubman served as a spy for the federal Union Army in South Carolina, helping to defeat secessionist Confederate forces.

Former President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing 3.5 million slaves held in the rebel states.

According to the Library of Congress, over 186,00 African Americans, thousands of them who were recently freed, got "received into the armed service of the United States."

Thus, overriding a 1792 federal law that forbid Blacks from enlisting.

Blacks also served in the Continental Army during America's Revolutionary War from 1775-1783, helping to secure colonial independence from Great Britain.

Juneteenth is a U.S. federal holiday celebrated every June 19. The festivities recount the official complete emancipation of America's slaves, circa 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

In Scripture, we are told that the "Jubilee" was observed every 50th year when specified servants were freed from servitude or debts and allowed to return to their own property.

The internationally recognized Fisk University Jubilee singers in 1871 brought "slave songs" to the world: songs that became known as "Negro spirituals."

These requiems and spiritual warfare fight songs were vocalized by African Americans in the slavery fields, barns, churches and behind closed doors for generations before Tubman evidently learned of them.

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, all except two of the original Jubilee choir members were former slaves.

The name "Jubilee singers" is a reference to the year of freedom and jollification described in Leviticus, Chapter 25.

Philadelphia's Liberty Bell is inscribed with the freedom-inspiring verse.

"And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family." (Leviticus 25:10)

As Israel celebrates its Passover this week, we are reminded of history's anti-slavery movements.

Harriet Tubman is one of many heroic abolitionists who helped to set captives free.

During the Passover, we should reflect on the freedoms that Almighty God provides us. We should not take our liberty for granted by disobeying His commandments.

Believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Reginald Spann is the nonpartisan senior editor of The Christian Commander. You may reach him through our Facebook, X and Truth Social Platforms or via our Partnership page at

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AMEN!!! Very interesting and educational article. It’s quite timely for me. Just a few hours ago I was reading about the symbols that Harriet used for an escape plan.

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