The Reading section measures your ability to understand academic passages in English. You will read passages and answer questions about them. Answer all questions based on what is stated or implied in the passages.

You will read three passages. You have 60 minutes to read the passages and answer the questions.

Most questions are worth one point, but the last question in each set is worth more than one point. The directions indicate how many points you may receive.

Some passages include a word or phrase in bold type. For these words and phrases, you will see a definition in a glossary at the end of the passage.

1. Slavery was legal for over 200 years in some parts of North America, particularly the southern states of the United States, where the plantation system of agriculture depended on the labor of slaves, most of whom came from Africa. Slaves had no rights or freedoms because they were thought of as property. From the time of its origin, slavery had opponents. The abolitionist movement began in the 1600s when the Quakers in Pennsylvania objected to slavery on moral grounds and wanted to abolish the institution.

2. In 1793, Canada passed a law abolishing slavery and declared that any escaped slaves who came to Canada would be free citizens. Slavery was already illegal in most northern states; however, slaves captured there by slave hunters could be returned to slavery in the South. Canada refused to return runaway slaves or to allow American slave hunters into the country. It is estimated that more than 30,000 runaway slaves immigrated to Canada and settled in the Great Lakes region between 1830 and 1865.

3. The American antislavery movement was at the height of its activity during the 1800s, when abolitionists developed the Underground Railroad, a loosely organized system whereby runaway slaves were passed from safe house to safe house as they fled northwards to free states or Canada. The term was first used in the 1830s and came from an Ohio clergyman who said, “They who took passage on it disappeared from public view as if they had really gone to ground.” Because the Underground Railroad was so secret, few records exist that would reveal the true number of people who traveled it to freedom. The most active routes on the railroad were in Ohio, Indiana, and western Pennsylvania.

4. Runaway slaves usually traveled alone or in small groups. Most were young men between the ages of 16 and 35. The fugitives hid in wagons under loads of hay or potatoes, or in furniture and boxes in steamers and on rafts. They traveled on foot through swamps and woods, moving only a few miles each night, using the North Star as a compass. Sometimes they moved in broad daylight. Boys disguised themselves as girls, and girls dressed as boys. In one well–known incident, twenty–eight slaves escaped by walking in a funeral procession from Kentucky to Ohio.

5. The “railroad” developed its own language. The “trains” were the large farm wagons that could conceal and carry a number of people. The “tracks” were the backcountry roads that were used to elude the slave hunters. The “stations” were the homes and hiding places where the slaves were fed and cared for as they moved north. The “agents” were the people who planned the escape routes. The “conductors” were the fearless men and women who led the slaves toward freedom. The “passengers” were the slaves who dared to run away and break for liberty. Passengers paid no fare and conductors received no pay.

6. The most daring conductor was Harriet Tubman, a former slave who dedicated her life to helping other runaways. Tubman made 19 trips into the South to guide 300 relatives, friends, and strangers to freedom. She was wanted dead or alive in the South, but she was never captured and never lost a passenger. A determined worker, she carried a gun for protection and a supply of drugs to quiet the crying babies in her rescue parties.

7. A number of white people joined the effort, including Indiana banker Levi Coffin and his wife Catherine, who hid runaways in their home, a “station” conveniently located on three main escape routes to Canada. People could be hidden there for several weeks, recovering their strength and waiting until it was safe to continue on their journey. Levi Coffin was called the “president of the Underground Railroad” because he helped as many as 3,000 slaves to escape.

8. The people who worked on the railroad were breaking the law. Although the escape network was never as successful or as well organized as Southerners thought, the few thousand slaves who made their way to freedom in this way each year had a symbolic significance out of proportion to their actual numbers. The Underground Railroad continued operating until slavery in the United States was finally abolished in 1865.

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