As such, the Underground Railroad existed long before the terms and metaphors used to describe it. As early as 1786, Philip Dalby, a shopkeeper in , published a in the Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser complaining that when he took an enslaved manservant on a business trip to Philadelphia, the city's Quakers sued for the slave's freedom. In a about the matter, worried that there was "no avoiding the snares of individuals, or of private societies" intent on interfering with slavery. Nine years later, in , the also warned of "great and alarming mischiefs" caused "by voluntary associations of individuals, who under the cover of effecting justice towards persons unwarrantably held in slavery" had instead deprived masters of their slaves and burdened them with unfounded lawsuits.


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