Bound for Canaan
The Underground Railroad was, by its very nature, a silent, loose-limbed organization. This fog of anonymity may explain why, despite its critical role in American history, historians have attempted so few chronicles of it. Bordewich, author of My Mother's Ghost (2000) and Killing the White Man's Indian (1997), was undeterred by the challenge. If he can't rescue all names from anonymity, he succeeds in laying bare the heroic spirit of the escapees' struggle. He also breaks "the hard sheen of myt...more
Some standout points for me: the connections between the Underground Railroad and the beginnings of the women's rights movement; the importance of Can ...more
"The British colonies of North America and the United States imported only about 6 percent of the between 10 and 11 million slaves that were brought from Africa."
"From the earliest days of settlement, at least some colonists had equivocal feelings about slavery. In 1641 Massachusetts forbade slavery."
Philadelphia was the early center of the underground railroad, and Quakers were early pioneers: around 1800, "in the cobbled lanes of Philadelphia, fugitive slaves, free blacks, and white Quake ...more
This is what history books should read like. Moving and expertly told, you get an immediate sense of what challenges the underground railroad was up against, and find yourself rooting fervently for the slaves bound for freedom.
- Levi Coffin, Quaker abolitionist, from Bound for Canaan
In Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement, Fergus Bordewich vividly brings to life Levi Coffin, scores of black and white abolitionists, and astonishing tales of the ingenuity and courage exhibited by fugitives and their helpers. What came to be called the Underground Railroad, a movemen ...more
-In NC I believe a white man bought a slave and set him free and then bought the slaves son and gave the son to the father so that the father ...more
Seldom if ever have I read such an exciting nonfiction book. Without wanting to slight its historical importance, what I remember best about this book was that it had all the qualities of a page-turning, edge-of-your-se ...more
The Railroad was not the systematic, structured, trans-American organisation that it is often portrayed as. ...more
This book truly shines as a cohesive work. Sometimes, in non-fiction you get this mixed bag where there are great biographies or great stories that give context to a particular time ...more
I read of the brave, gritty Harriet Tubman who took her own life in her hands every time she set about to help free ...more
The Underground Railroad was our second great resistance, and it really gave birth to most our major reform movements: Women's Rights, Unions, Civil RIghts, LGBT, etc.
1. The North as a whole was less friendly to runaway slaves than I'd thought.
2. Canada was a sure place of refuge. Masters had no hope of recapturing a fugitive slave once he or she reached Canada.
3. There was more racism among the ranks of the Abolitionists than I'd thought. They opposed the institution of slavery, but still thought blacks were inferior.
Some of the negatives: it was hard to keep track of who was who in this book - Bordewich ...more
This book is a stellar history of the Underground Railroad. It highlights the major players and changes within the movement. It also focuses some much needed light on the great contributions of large numbers of free and fugitive blacks in "Underground." I loved this book, and really recommend it for anyone -- but especiall ...more
I've read biographies devoted to some of the more well known players - John Brown and Fredrick Douglass - but none come close to conveying the texture and humanity of bo ...more
The book does have a cast of hundreds, it seems, and it is hard at time to recall someone from earlier in the book. (reminds me of reading War and Peace) I started to write down notes to myself to help me recall some of the people when they were mentioned ag ...more