Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: Bound for the North Star

Bound for the North Star: True Stories of Fugitive Slaves by Dennis Brindell Fradin, Clarion Books, New York, 2000.

This book moved me to tears on several occasions.  The stories of those who escaped slavery, and some who did not, are so compelling.  It makes me wonder how anyone could keep another human being in captivity; and treat them in such a way.  This book grabbed me from the Author’s notes at the beginning to the end.  I am going to share some of the chapters, stories of individuals in different posts, because they deserve individual attention.
The author starts in his quoting Harriet Tubman (which is the last story in the book.) “Slavery is the next thing to hell.”  The author then shows that in face it is, by providing a pictures of negroes in a slave ship.  There was no room to stand, no room to move, as every space was filled with bodies.  It makes me sick and claustrophobic just to look at the picture.
The author provides a brief history of slavery.  Slavery was bad.  When free blacks were offered the opportunity to return to slavery, none did.  50,000 slaves escaped to the North and other destinations.  Hundreds of thousands attempted to escape.  The author presents the summary of several histories which were written by former slaves.
When the author actually goes into the stories, it breaks my heart.  Stories included are Mary Prince, Harriet Tubman, Fed or John Brown, Eliza Harris (from Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Peter and Vina Still, Henry “Box” Brown, Ellen and William Cragt, William Wells Brown, John Price, John Anderson, Ann Maria Weems and Solomon Northup (Twelve Years a Slave). 
The stories are so compelling.  I often find myself hoping for some revenge.  Solomon Northrup predicted there would come a reckoning.  I guess that reckoning was the Civil War.  There was a very large price to pay to rid our county of slavery, but also in retribution for slavery.

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