Book Review: Underground to Canada

There were rumbling thunderstorms last night with huge lightning flashes, so we turned off all major appliances, including the TV.  I used the time to catch up on my reading.  

I found this book in the “free, take one” section of the local library.  The author, Barbara Smucker, was a Canadian woman born in 1915. 

The Underground Railroad started in the deep south of the USA and ended in Canada. While the main charcters if the story, girls named Julilly and Liza were fictional, they were based on experiences found in the narratives of fugitive slaves. Two abolitionists, Alexander Ross of Canada, and Levi Coffin of Ohio, were real people who helped slaves escape to freedom.  

We find Julilly in the beginning of the story living with her mom as slaves in Virginia, owned by Jeb Hensen.  Hensen was more humane than most; they had enough to eat, Sundays were filled with singing and dancing. 

Then came the day the Julilly, some children, and some men are sold of to the “deep South” of Mississippi. The new plantation living conditions are intolerable.  Barely enough food to eat, the sting of the whip a constant threat. 

Mr. Ross, an abolitionist from Canada, visits the plantation and finds several slaves who are willing to make the arduous journey to Canada and freedom.  

Day after day, they travel northward, with just enough food to get by, sleeping by day and traveling by night, all the while avoiding slave catchers.  

The Fugitive Slave Act made it a crime to hide or feed a runaway slave, even in the free states, and is surely a deep stain on the history of this country!

The book does have a happy ending for our main character, Julilly!!

 

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