Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave

Overview

Now in Laurel-Leaf, Virginia Hamilton's powerful true account of the sensational trial of a fugitive slave.

The year is 1854, and Anthony Burns, a 20-year-old Virginia slave, has escaped to Boston. But according to the Fugitive Slave Act, a runaway can be captured in any free state, and Anthony is soon imprisoned. The antislavery forces in Massachusetts are outraged, but the federal government backs the Fugitive Slave Act, sparking riots in ...

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Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave

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Overview

Now in Laurel-Leaf, Virginia Hamilton's powerful true account of the sensational trial of a fugitive slave.

The year is 1854, and Anthony Burns, a 20-year-old Virginia slave, has escaped to Boston. But according to the Fugitive Slave Act, a runaway can be captured in any free state, and Anthony is soon imprisoned. The antislavery forces in Massachusetts are outraged, but the federal government backs the Fugitive Slave Act, sparking riots in Boston and fueling the Abolitionist movement.

Written with all the novelistic skill that has won her every major award in children's literature, Virginia Hamilton's important work of nonfiction puts young readers into the mind of Burns himself.

A biography of the slave who escaped to Boston in 1854, was arrested at the instigation of his owner, and whose trial caused a furor between abolitionists and those determined to enforce the Fugitive Slave Acts.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Moving and unforgettable." -- School Library Journal, Starred

"Beautifully written . . . a riveting reality tale whose legacy, even now, is not finished." -- The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This riveting, much lauded historical chronicle concerns a Virginia slave's aborted flight to freedom--and subsequent trial; PW said, ``This moving story becomes all the more scathing and rich for being rooted in truth.'' All ages. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up In 1854, Anthony Burns, a 20-year-old black man, was put on trial in Boston under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Abolitionist activity and the efforts of lawyers, black ministers, and humanitarians to prevent the return of the prisoner to Virginia caused demonstrations by mobs of citizens, the calling out of 2000 militia, and several episodes of violence during the proceedings. Retelling the day-by-day events of the trial which polarized the city, Hamilton shows the kind of political issue which brought the nation to fever pitch in the decade before the Civil War. Hamilton's biography is actually a ``docudrama'' which centers on the often silent, mistreated, and humbled figure of the runaway slave. Burns' story is fleshed out with dialogue and flashbacks to his earlier life. Through the fictional device of his mental withdrawal into memories of the past, the typical experience of a child raised in slavery is described. Restricted from full character development by the constraints of working with historical sources and trial records all fully noted in the afterword, Hamilton creates drama and climactic conflict by describing the political, racial, and social tensions that surrounded the trial. In addition to the usefulness of the book to any study of the Civil War period, the insights which Hamilton gives into the personal side of slavery are moving and unforgettable. Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679839972
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 240,323
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton
Virginia Hamilton's many awards include the Newbery Medal and National Book Award for M.C. Higgins the Great; the Coretta Scott King Medal for The People Could Fly; and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for the body of her work.

Biography

A writer of prodigious gifts, Virginia Hamilton forged a new kind of juvenile fiction by twining African-American and Native American history and folklore with contemporary stories and plotlines.

With Hamilton's first novel, Zeely, the story of a young farm girl who fantasizes that a woman she knows is a Watusi queen, she set the bar high. The book won a American Library Association Notable Children's Book citation. Hamilton rose to her own challenge, and every new book she published enriched American literature to such a degree that in 1995 she was awarded the ALA's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for lifetime achievement.

Born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and raised in an extended family of farmers and storytellers (her own father was a musician), Hamilton's work was inspired by her childhood experiences, family mythology, and Ohio River Valley homeland. In an article about the importance of libraries in children's lives, she credits her mother and the "story lady" at her childhood public library with opening her mind to the world of books.

Although she spent time in New York City working as a bookkeeper after college, and traveled widely in Africa and Europe, Hamilton spent most of her life in Yellow Springs, anchored by the language, geography, and culture of southern Ohio. In The House of Dies Drear, she arranged her story around the secrets of the Underground Railroad. In M. C. Higgins, the Great, winner of both a John Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, she chronicled the struggles of a family whose land, and life spirit, is threatened by strip mining. Publishers Weekly called the novel "one of those rare books which draws the reader in with the first paragraph and keeps him or her turning the page until the end."

In her series of folk-tale collections, including The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, and Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, Hamilton salvaged and burnished folk tales from cultures across the world for her stories; stories that suffused her fiction with its extraordinary blend of worldly and otherworldly events, enchantment, and modern reality. Virginia Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.

Good To Know

Hamilton's first research trip to a library was to find out more about her family's exotic chickens, which her mother called "rainbow layers," because of the many tints of the eggs they laid.

In 1995, Hamilton became the first children's writer to win a John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur "genius" grant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 12, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Date of Death:
      February 19, 2002
    2. Place of Death:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Attended Antioch College, Ohio State University, and the New School for Social Research
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2003

    Proud to be black

    I know this book is good because it tells about an important event slavery. I think everyone should focus on something like this book because it makes you ask more questions and find out the answers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2002

    A great one

    This novel was a great story. I had to read a book for my English class and I dont think I could have choosen a better one. This story was written very well with simple vocabulary. The parts that I disliked were how it jumped back and forth between time periods. Another part of the story I disliked was the dialogue between the slaves because of their little education. Everything else was great. This story was outstanding and I recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2001

    Attention all History fans

    This book is very interesting if you like history, but very boring if don't. It's based on a true story that talks about the trial of Anthony Burns.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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