Natalie's Reviews > Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
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bookshelves: illustrated, childrens, history, north-america

All that is in my mind upon reading this story:

Then (March 23, 1849):

Illustration from Henry's Freedom Box
See Henry Box Brown's profile, Personal Narrative and the biography Unboxing of Henry Brown for more information about Brown's life story.

Now (May 17, 2010):
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(AP Photo/Chiapas State Attorney General)
On May 17, 513 people are found shipping themselves upright in two trucks

Is there room for Hope?
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Reading Progress

May 11, 2011 – Shelved
May 19, 2011 – Started Reading
May 20, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Natalie Asked my daughter to review this, and she'd already read it in school -said she hated it . What she meant was more complicated than that: she hated slavery, the way the Henry was treated, the way (view spoiler), and the way that becoming free was the end of his story (view spoiler). In that she found the book/author at serious fault/irresponsible to the character and the reader. She said her mixed race friends really hated it too.

Just a couple days ago there were pictures in the paper about 513 people discovered in two trucks trying to travel unknown into the US via Mexico. For kids numbed by such pictures, one clean looking man in one clean box welcomed with open arms by smiling Philadelphians in suits and ties seems almost contrived/made for TV. The book doesn't represent the danger or discomfort or sorrow of Henry's situation very realistically and that might be part of why kids don't trust the story it tells? Here we are 150 years after Henry and people are still having to ship themselves like cargo to find better lives?


message 2: by Natalie (last edited May 19, 2011 09:36PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Natalie Henry Brown made his own account of his escape and its aftermath wherein he said:

"I now stand before you as a free man, but since my arrival among you, I have been informed that your laws require that I should still be held as a slave; and that if my master should espy me in any nook or corner of the free states, according to the constitution of the United States, he could secure me and carry me back into Slavery; so that I am confident I am not safe, even here, if what I have heard concerning your laws is true.

I cannot imagine why you should uphold such strange laws. I have been told that every time a man goes to the polls and votes, he virtually swears to sustain them, frightful as they are. It seems to me to be a hard case, for a man to endure what I have endured in effecting my escape, and then to be continually exposed to be seized by my master, and carried back into that horrid pit from which I have escaped.

I have been told, however, that the people here would not allow me to be thus returned, that they would break their own laws in my behalf, which seems quite curious to me; for why should you make laws, and swear to uphold them, and then break them? I do not understand much about laws, to be sure, as the law of my master is the one I have been subject to all my life, but some how, it looks a little singular to me, that wise people should be obliged to break their own laws, or else do a very wicked act."


Good question! to quote Henry, "Why should you make laws, and swear to uphold them, and then break them?"


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