North Star to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroadby Gena Kinton Gorrell, Clement Oubrerie, Lawrence David
In this fascinating and thorough account, Gena K. Gorrell movingly describes the history of the Underground Railroad, from the origins of slavery through the Civil War and beyond. She depicts the passage from Africa on desperately crowded slave ships, the station-by-station development of the powerful Railroad routes to the northern United States and Canada, and the immense challenges runaways faced once they reached freedom. Throughout the narrative, Gorrell highlights the pivotal roles played by various people of the era: those who became famous and those who remain too little known.
Through conscientious research, Gorrell traces slavery's origins as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece, showing just how deplorable the policies of the US were: In ancient societies, slaves were eventually permitted to buy their freedom, after paying off debts, but in this country, the dark color of Africans was used as "proof" of their "natural inferiority." Students who take democratic liberties for granted will gain a more immediate, emotional sense of slavery's horrors from the brief first-person introductions in each chapter. Throughout, Gorrell intelligently explains the economic realities of slavery and its role in the rise of the southern states' aristocracy; she shows how this issue essentially divided the country for years, making armed conflict inevitable. The chapters on the Underground Railroad are full of intriguing facts about secret hiding places and codes, but most riveting of all are the true stories of slaves who escaped their captors: Henry "Box" Brown, who shipped himself in a crate to free Philadelphia; William and Ellen Craft, a married pair of slaves who disguised themselves as a slave and his rich male owner and traveled to freedom. With numerous black-and-white photos and period line drawings, this is an indispensable and inspirational tool in any classroom.
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 7.46(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)
- Age Range:
- 10 - 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
But the lure of freedom was powerful, and slowlyin whispers, from mouth to mouthword got around that escape was possible. A slave who reached the free states in the North could hide among free blacks, and could with luck avoid recapture. A slave who reached the distant and mysterious land of Canada could be freetruly and legally free. The trip would be difficult and dangerous, but the reward was overwhelming. Many slaves made up their minds to run away.
But it wasn't easy to escape. Slaves were valuable property, and they were watched closely. Many couldn't leave their homes without written permission. Once they were on the road, they were suspected by anyone who saw them. In some places they weren't allowed to ride trains or even cross bridges without a written pass. A slave riding a horse on the open road was assumed to have stolen it. Even carrying food or clothing was dangerous, as it suggested that you weren't on your way home. So most fugitives had to travel by night, on foot, with nothing to eat but the scraps they could find or steal as they went. And all the way, they knew they might be stopped, searched, questioned, and even seized, at any moment.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Meet the Author
Gena Gorrell is a Fitzhenry and Whiteside author.
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