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Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  554 ratings  ·  63 reviews

Ellen and William Craft were married slaves from Georgia who escaped to the North in 1848 through train and steamboat. Ellen and William later moved to England following the Fugitive Slave Act and lived their for nearly two decades. In 1860 they published Running a Thousand Miles to Freedom, a written account of their experience including details of their daring escape.

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Kindle Edition, 126 pages
Published June 1st 2014 by Heraklion Press (first published 1860)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is the true story of the narrow escape of William and Ellen Craft, a young married couple, from slavery in Georgia in 1848, written by them in 1860 (though told from William's point of view). Ellen (who was a "quadroon" or one-quarter black, due to masters' tendencies to sleep with their female slaves) was fair-skinned enough to pass for a white person. But since a white woman wouldn't travel attended by a male slave, she and William cut her hair and disguised her as a white man, complete ...more
Clif Hostetler
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This book published in 1860 is a first-person telling by a married couple of their harrowing escape from slavery. In 1848 they were able to travel openly by train and steamboat from Macon, Ga to Philadelphia, PA with Ellen dressed in disguise as a white male planter and William as his (i.e. her) personal servant. They were able to get away with it because Ellen was light-skinned and able to pass as a white person.

They lived for a while in Boston, but after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of
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Punk
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this by way of the Criminal podcast. They did an episode about Ellen and William Craft, two slaves who came up with a plan, and a disguise, and calmly walked out of their servitude in Macon, Georgia, taking a series of trains, boats, and carriages, all the way to Philadelphia—and freedom—in 1848. The podcast said they got a lot of the details from the book the two had written, and that it was available for free from Gutenberg, so I clicked right on through, and found it to be very ...more
Christine
It offers more than just the couple's escape to freedom but also several discussions about slavery. Nice. Also focuses on women more than some other narratives.
Cimone Watson
Great story! It left me wanting more. I'd like to read more stories of escapes from slavery, and more slave narratives in general.
Becky Ankeny
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this memoir until early this month. It is actually written by William Craft, judging from the voice in the story, and it is a stunning, fast-moving narrative of his and his wife's escape from slavery. The narrative highlights several historical facts that play out today as well: a person was considered black if he/she had any black ancestors. Ellen was fathered by her owner, who treated her as a slave and sold her. A slave had no right to self-defense or defense of family ...more
Judith
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm glad that the Crafts were able to escape slavery. How sad that when they made it to the North, they were not free in free states -- they had to worry that they would be sent back to the cruel hands of slavery (under the Fugitive Slave Law) even in the free states. They had difficulty obtaining housing and procuring travel tickets in Maine and Canada. I thought Canadians would've been more welcoming. They had to eat their meals in their room and were encouraged to leave the hotel so that ...more
Kori ☾
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, favorites
Why don't we hear about this power couple in school? Oh, I know why.... America was sad that they got BAMBOOZLED by 2 slaves who couldn't read or write. They worked hard to escape not once, BUT TWICE. Oh, I know people were salty. Mr. Craft read them for the filth, he dropped names, and FACTS. His fair skin wife dressed as a man and faked illness just in case she was called out. I was here for it, I rooted for them the entire way through even though I knew they made it.

"Our old masters, having
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Spencer
It's a short little book but very appropriate reading for Black History month. It's an eyeopening accounting of a black couple's struggle to be free by escaping from Georgia to Boston in 1848. They worked and saved for two years to establish themselves only to come to the conclusion that because of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 they would have to flee to England. The irony is that Americans fought the Revolutionary War to free themselves from the bondage to oppressive English rule, only to find ...more
John
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really a fascinating read. Some of the things I found most interesting were:

1. The blurred racial lines, even back then, when slavery was "solid."
2. The blurred religious lines (a slave owner admitting her slave was more religious than her and had a positive influence on her spirituality, for example).
3. The irony of the slaves' need to escape to England for true freedom.

I read this book as a free ebook on Google Books: http://tinyurl.com/bygkcg
Amy
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short but some powerful stories. This will be interesting to anyone who wants to know more about the escape of William and Ellen Craft (though I did wonder how they saved enough money to cover all their travel expenses) and I can also imagine a teacher pulling a few passages to use in the classroom. Personally, I especially liked the critiques of American and Christian hypocrisy.
Jennifer Zartman
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book both enlightened and grieved me, for it pointed out the horrible plight of slaves and how wickedly out country treated them in the early years of our nation as no other book I have read has done. William and Ellen Craft displayed tremendous courage, faith, creativity, and desperation in their flight to freedom, and the book is well worth reading. They write in a florid style and love to moralize and include quotes to describe or validate their statements, all of which slows the story. ...more
Natalie Rosselli
This has been my least favorite narrative so far. It’s solely about their escape but it’s so muddles by their citation of laws and quotes by reverends and constant stories about other slaves escaping that don’t really have much to do with them personally, if you get what I mean, which made it really hard for me to connect with this one.

While I find the Crafts extremely interesting, strong, and inspiring, their narrative fell rather flat for me. Their story is amazing but I don’t feel like this
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ELIZABETH
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Not sure quite how to rate this one. Wouldn't have picked it up without it being a book club selection. Felt timely to be reading it now, though. The forward was essentially a scholarly article that stole the thunder of most of the book, which was really unfortunate. But it also did raise some really interesting points about William and Ellen's escape and why it isn't well known today along side of Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. I don't feel like I should really criticize the writing, ...more
Sarai
This is a very interesting true tale of a couple who escaped slavery. The wife dressed as a wealthy white man and her husband pretended to be her servant. It's an amazing story that should be read.

Book description:
This compelling narrative offers a firsthand account of a couple's remarkable flight from slavery in the antebellum South. William and Ellen Craft devised a daring plan in which the light-skinned wife disguised herself as a man and the husband posed as her servant. This brief memoir
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Andrew Alper
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m not about to start quoting this book, but it is brilliant, and presents many examples of slaver rhetoric that one can still hear today in the most unexpected places. I was struck by the truth behind the stories told in this book. The thought occurred to me that when your workers are your property and require no compensation, you may devote your time to crafting extremely devilish and compelling sophistry, to bend the will of the common man towards your extremely biased and immoral way of ...more
mica-micare
I'm not really sure what to say about this - it is a pretty short, but to the point narrative of a married couple making their escape from slavery in the southern states in the early 19th century. It is narrated from the perspective of William Craft (and was officially published under his name alone, although modern copies credit both of them), and follows how he and his wife, Ellen Craft, disguise themselves as a slave and a young white man who "owns" him to allow them to travel to freedom.

It
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Matt Sautman
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a book in the slave narrative genre, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom stands out amongst other prominent narratives in this genre that I have read despite their book’s brief length. The fact that this is a memoir that is written by a couple fleeing slavery together is interesting in itself, but because the Crafts ran away through Ellen crossdressing as a white male slave master, this text plays with identity in a way that I hadn’t expected. Although this text clearly is more oriented ...more
John Stanifer
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this pre-Civil War slave narrative after hearing one of the authors' descendants speak at a local MLK tribute event.

The narrative, though short, is absolutely riveting (and is slated to be a movie in the next few years, apparently). Co-written by a husband and wife who escaped from slavery together, the wife's skin was light enough that they decided the best way to escape was for her to pass herself off as her husband's "master."

I don't know how they ever made it, but God bless them!
...more
Laura
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Courageous

I so much wish this was a book of fiction . And in today's climate , I can't even have an ounce of disbelief. It breaks my heart to feel that while our country's shameful engagement of slavery is long over, many of the same illogical, inhuman, disgusting prejudices still exist today. The courage it took for those who attempted, successfully or not, to escape the horror of slavery is astounding to me. I'm thankful to be able to read about it from a first hand account.
Edwina Putney
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing and heart-pounding recount of the extraordinary planning, harrowing dangers, and numerous obstacles that William and Ellen Craft encountered on their escape from slavery in Georgia to freedom in Philadelphia and Boston. But reaching free states became insufficient after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, so once again, the numerous obstacles to their escape to Halifax, Nova Scotia and then England are filled with frustration and veiled prejudice. This was an excellent memoir ...more
Jessica Roberts
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the prominent memoirs.

It's also interesting because the story of the Crafts occurred during the 1850's and was one of the Boston vigilance committee rescues via sending them immediately to Great Britain. It's always ironic and bitter to read true stories that intersect with the cultural problems the South had/has. History does not deal in lies, however. The truth must be known. Especially now.
Daneen
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick, but very powerful read. I first heard about the Craft's story from a podcast called Criminal. Their story is told in episode 59: In Plain Sight. I typically don't like to read stories about slaves, because as a Black woman it makes me very emotional, but I highly recommend this book because it's a part of American history of which everyone should be aware.
Brittania
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read, enjoyable book

Very enjoyable book. This autobiography is interesting qne compelling from start to finish. I have read many first person accounts about American slavery and escapes from slavery, but this story is definitely unique in many ways. The writing is eloquent and there is a lot of quotable material. Definitely recommend reading this one.
Luisa
This book is monumental if just because it actually happened and was an incredibly popular story at the time. But it also changes a lot of viewpoints about how race worked at the time, looking at light skinned slaves, white passing people, the dynamics of gender and race and just how those all functioned in society. It's far more blurry than our typical polarized viewpoint. Really interesting.
Adrian
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had heard about this book through one of my podcasts and was surprised that it was still available in the world to buy. But it was a great and humbling story. it's a perfect read for a short trip or to fill a portion of a day. There are good human lessons in this book that I think still apply even today, for better or worse.
Wyatt
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We probably shouldn't be making any more slave movies at this point because there's better/more interesting black stories to tell, but this is such an incredible story that is also written like a movie, in that it's so wild it almost feels like it couldn't exist outside of fiction. I also think this story just deserves a larger audience because the Craft's were absolute rockstars.
Patricia Alvarado
Illuminating!

Out of the past and into the present, we travel along with William and Ellen Craft on their precarious journey to freedom. Their success bears witness to the goodness and courage of many brave people who dared to help them.
Suzy
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible and inspiring story of William & Ellen Craft’s escape from slavery. I think this should be required reading in high schools. It is short but poignant. I first heard about this story while listening to the podcast “Unexplained” and glad I read the book. Highly recommended!
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