Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home

Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home

by Richard Bell


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A gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice, reminiscent of Twelve Years a Slave and Never Caught.

Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home.

Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War.

Impeccably researched and breathlessly paced, Stolen tells the incredible story of five boys whose courage forever changed the fight against slavery in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501169434
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 72,941
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Richard Bell teaches Early American history at the University of Maryland. He has received several teaching prizes and major research fellowships including the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award. His first book, We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States, was published in 2012. He is also the author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home.

Table of Contents

Introduction the reverse underground Railroad 1

Chapter 1 Sanctuary City 11

Chapter 2 Black hearts 33

Chapter 3 Midnight land 47

Chapter 4 In-laws and Outlaws 63

Chapter 5 The beaten Way 81

Chapter 6 The body in the Wagon 103

Chapter 7 The Halfway House 123

Chapter 8 The lifeboat 143

Chapter 9 A living Witness 163

Chapter 10 Hunting Wolves 183

Chapter 11 Kidnappers all 203

Conclusion The first law of Nature 223

Acknowledgments 233

Notes 237

Key Sources 295

Index 305

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