Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom

Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom

by Virginia Hamilton
     
 

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Virginia Hamilton, storyteller, lecturer, and biographer, was born and raised in Yellow Springs, OH, which is said to be a station on the Underground Railroad. Her grandfather settled in the village after escaping slavery in Virginia. She was educated at Antioch College and Ohio State University and did further study in literature and the novel at the New School

Overview

Virginia Hamilton, storyteller, lecturer, and biographer, was born and raised in Yellow Springs, OH, which is said to be a station on the Underground Railroad. Her grandfather settled in the village after escaping slavery in Virginia. She was educated at Antioch College and Ohio State University and did further study in literature and the novel at the New School for Social Research. Virginia was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M.C. Higgins the Great. Since then, she has won three Newbery Honors and three Coretta Scott King Awards. In 1992, Virginia was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, which is presented every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People, in recognition of her entire body of work. Virginia writes first for the pleasure of using words and language to evoke characters and their world, and in historical accounts such as Anthony Burns, the lives of real people. Secondly, Hamilton writes to entertain, to inspire in people the desire to read on and on good books made especially for them.

Leo and Diane Dillon have twice won the Caldecott Medal

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The inspired pairing of this Newbery winner and these two-time Caldecott recipients has yielded a heartfelt and ultimately heartening chronicle of African Americans from the earliest days of slavery to the 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in this country. Made up of succinct yet compelling profiles of celebrated and lesser-known individuals, Hamilton's narrative deftly peels back time's layers and lends an unusual immediacy to this critical chapter in American history. In brief, chronologically arranged entries that even reluctant readers will find easy to absorb, the author first offers accounts of slaves in the pre-Revolutionary War era, many of whom were taken from their homes in Africa and sold to slave traders. Included are descriptions of the appalling shipboard conditions during the ``middle passage'' from Africa to America, which a shocking 30% of the ill-treated passengers did not survive. Hamilton neatly condenses the tales of such notable freedom crusaders as Gabriel Prosser, the Virginia slave who was hanged for organizing a failed revolt in 1800; Tice Davids, allegedly the first slave to escape by traveling the ``underground road'' from Kentucky to Ohio; passionate abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass; and Harriet Tubman, the former slave who made more than 20 journeys back to the South to lead others to freedom. Hamilton's account takes note of the legislation passed by the federal government over the years--both protective of and damaging to the rights of African Americans. Her final reference, however, is optimistic, if somewhat oversimplified. She writes that after the Civil War, African Americans ``were able to find the best in life,'' including seeking education, finding jobs, owning land and living together as families. She concludes: ``They did all of these things almost as soon as the war was over. For 125 years they have continued to do so.'' Throughout the volume, the Dillons' dramatic, full-page, black-and-white art offers stunning portraits of the individuals profiled, poignantly conveying their anguish, determination and hope. A Children's BOMC selection. Ages 9-14. (Feb.) .
Children's Literature - Debra Briatico
This groundbreaking work traces the history of slavery in America from the earliest slave trading to the Emancipation Proclamation and the growth of the Underground Railroad. The author presents personal accounts and individual profiles of well-known figures such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass and other lesser-known slaves such as Henry Box Brown, Jackson and Eliza.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-9-- From the beginning of slavery in America to the end of the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of slaves escaped to freedom in the Northern U. S. and Canada. Their struggle, as well as the struggle of those who failed and those who were once free and then captured into slavery, comprises the theme of this history. Hamilton offers brief vignettes of almost three dozen figures. Among them are a prince lured to a neighboring kingdom and sold into slavery and a desperate mother whose escape over an icy river inspired a scene in Uncle Tom's Cabin . Well-known figures are included, as are such lesser-known people as Henry Box Brown, who had a sympathetic carpenter nail him into a box and mail him North; or Tice Davids, whose escape in 1831 led to the coining of the term ``underground road.'' Although the emphasis is on African-American figures, biographies of whites who risked prison to help slaves to freedom are also included. The vignettes are lively, readable, and written with a poetic flair that distinguishes this book from most collective biographies for this age range. All of the stories shed a different light upon Hamilton's themes and the factual information she presents as an introduction to each theme. Her research is impeccable. The Dillons' black-and-white illustrations are refreshingly original, conveying the emotion and drama of the experiences described; text and visuals combine to create a powerful and moving whole. Reluctant readers and those with little prior knowledge will find this book unusually approachable with its short chapters, lively writing, and ample white space. --Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Hazel Rochman
Hamilton's account for middle readers is one of the best of this season's many fine books on African American slavery and resistance. Combining general history with personal slave narratives and biography, she tells of the famous, such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Anthony Burns, and Harriet Tubman, and the obscure--slaves and "running-aways," rebels and conductors. Designed as a companion to Hamilton's acclaimed "The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales" (1985), the book has the same style of illustration by the Dillons. One black-and-white picture of a mother and child on the auction block individualizes all the suffering of family separation. Sometimes the prose has a spare lyricism, like a story told over and over ("Heard tell that on the other side, a slave is no longer such. They say that on the other side of the wide water, a slave is a free man"). Often the telling is more direct, allowing the facts to speak for themselves: the sheer numbers (30 percent of the captives did not survive the middle passage across the ocean from Africa to America), the dramatic escapes (like that of Henry Brown, who had himself crated in a box and shipped to freedom), or the stark despair (like the case of Margaret Garner, who killed her child rather than have her captured back into slavery) Hamilton is neither sensational nor sentimental, even as she celebrates the many acts of shining courage. The accounts of rebellion, most of them put down with ruthless barbarity, are grim. In contrast, the stories of the secret codes, networks, and conductors on the Underground Railroad are thrilling and heroic. This makes us all want to know more, much more, about those many thousand gone.
From the Publisher
"Hamilton is neither sensational nor sentimental, even as she celebrates the many acts of shining courage. This makes us all want to know more, much more, about those many thousand gone."--(starred) Booklist.

"A compelling book, outstanding in every way."--(pointer) Kirkus.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394928739
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/28/2002
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
8.22(w) x 10.26(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton, storyteller, lecturer, and biographer, was born and raised in Yellow Springs, OH, which is said to be a station on the Underground Railroad. Her grandfather settled in the village after escaping slavery in Virginia. She was educated at Antioch College and Ohio State University and did further study in literature and the novel at the New School for Social Research. Virginia was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M.C. Higgins the Great. Since then, she has won three Newbery Honors and three Coretta Scott King Awards. In 1992, Virginia was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, which is presented every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People, in recognition of her entire body of work. Virginia writes first for the pleasure of using words and language to evoke characters and their world, and in historical accounts such as Anthony Burns, the lives of real people. Secondly, Hamilton writes to entertain, to inspire in people the desire to read on and on good books made especially for them.

Leo and Diane Dillon have twice won the Caldecott Medal

Brief Biography

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

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