How the Kentucky Raid Led to the Civil War

By | October 25, 2018

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- Slavery: Contraband of war. Runaway slaves before Federal officers. Undated photo of illustration depicts Union soldiers standing and seated and ex-slaves talking to them. (Getty Images)

When you ask anyone to tell you what caused the Civil War, they will probably tell you that the war was fought over slavery. For historians, however, the true causes of the fighting was much more complex. They can, however, point to a few specific events as contributing greatly to the start of the Civil War. One of those events occurred in the tiny Michigan town of Vandalia in 1847. An event that occurred there, which has since become known as the Kentucky Raid, had a snowball effect which led to the start of the Civil War. 

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Southern Slaves Escaped Along the Underground Railroad

Vandalia is located along one of the routes of the Underground Railroad, a term for the network of safe houses that led runaway slaves from the plantations of the South to freedom in Canada. Many slaves traveling along this route, however, decided to settle in Vandalia and the surrounding area instead of continuing on to Canada. The flat, fertile farmland and welcoming Quaker neighbors invited them to stay.