Flee North: A Forgotten Hero and the Fight for Freedom in Slavery’s Borderland

Celadon. Sept. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781250843210. $30. HIST
Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Shane (Objective Troy) has deftly woven this historical account about Thomas Smallwood, born in enslavement but who bought his freedom and became a contributor in the success of the Underground Railroad. Smallwood, who ran a small shoemaking establishment (circa 1840s) within sight of the White House, helped freedom seekers in Baltimore and Washington, DC. He recruited Charles T. Torrey, a young, white activist/minister/journalist, to help him. Torrey wrote satirical newspaper columns that documented their efforts and mocked enslavers, traders, and people who thought it their right to keep people enslaved. Smallwood and Torrey’s partnership forms the basis of this book and serves as a wonderful introduction for readers unaware of all that went on before the Civil War.
VERDICT An exceptionally well-written book that takes readers into the life and political development of Smallwood. General readers and all types of libraries will need to add this book to their to-be-read lists and collections.
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