To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker

To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker

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by Sydney Nathans
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0674062124

ISBN-13: 9780674062122

Pub. Date: 02/06/2012

Publisher: Harvard

What was it like for a mother to flee slavery, leaving her children behind? To Free a Family tells the remarkable story of Mary Walker, who in August 1848 fled her owner for refuge in the North and spent the next seventeen years trying to recover her family. Her freedom, like that of thousands who escaped from bondage, came at a great price-remorse at

Overview

What was it like for a mother to flee slavery, leaving her children behind? To Free a Family tells the remarkable story of Mary Walker, who in August 1848 fled her owner for refuge in the North and spent the next seventeen years trying to recover her family. Her freedom, like that of thousands who escaped from bondage, came at a great price-remorse at parting without a word, fear for her family's fate.

This story is anchored in two extraordinary collections of letters and diaries, that of her former North Carolina slaveholders and that of the northern family-Susan and Peter Lesley-who protected and employed her. Sydney Nathans' sensitive and penetrating narrative reveals Mary Walker's remarkable persistence as well as the sustained collaboration of black and white abolitionists who assisted her. Mary Walker and the Lesleys ventured half a dozen attempts at liberation, from ransom to ruse to rescue, until the end of the Civil War reunited Mary Walker with her son and daughter.

Unlike her more famous counterparts-Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, and Sojourner Truth-who wrote their own narratives and whose public defiance made them heroines, Mary Walker's efforts were protracted, wrenching, and private. Her odyssey was more representative of women refugees from bondage who labored secretly and behind the scenes to reclaim their families from the South. In recreating Mary Walker's journey, To Free a Family gives voice to their hidden epic of emancipation and to an untold story of the Civil War era.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674062122
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
02/06/2012
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Secret Striving 1

1 Reluctant Runaway 9

2 Sanctuary 31

3 "In the Midst of Friends" 52

4 "Never Reject the Claims of the Fugitive" 78

5 The Rescue Plot 90

6 "A Spirit Like a Dove" 117

7 A Season of Silence 134

8 "A Case of Heart Breaking Distress" 151

9 If They Die for Their Freedom, Amen 166

10 "The Welfare of Her Race" 191

11 "To Part No More" 217

Epilogue: "Their Works Do Follow Them" 253

Notes 263

Acknowledgments 309

Index 317

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To Free a Family 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Joanne_Arnold More than 1 year ago
To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker is a spellbinding true story of two families, one anchored by a Northern abolitionist husband and wife and the other by a fugitive slave who had left her children behind in North Caroline. More than just a good read, this book reminds us of our real or hoped-for heroic ancestors. Indeed, in Peter and Susan Lesley, white New Englanders, we see remarkable courage and generosity in their support of Mary Walker, the runaway slave. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who hopes that my forebears showed some measure of the same courage and generosity in those pre-Civil War days and that in similar circumstances I myself would do the same. And in Mary Walker we see steadfastness that is often tried and bravery in the face of even physical danger, both as she lived her own life in the North but as she carefully and patiently plotted to free her children, who remained in slavery. Sydney Nathans is a wonderful writer. This is a superbly written, remarkably well-researched book; I found it hard to put down. I loved To Free a Family. Joanne Arnold