My Brother's Keeper
On New Year's Eve in 1862, blacks from across British North America joined in spirit with their American fellows in silent vigils to await the enactment of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The terms declared that slaves who were held in the districts that were in rebellion would be free and that blacks would now be allowed to enlist in the Union Army and participate in the civil war that had then raged for more than a year and a half.
African Canadians who had fled from the United States had not forgotten their past and eagerly sought to do their part in securing rights and liberty for all. Leaving behind their freedom in Canada, many enlisted in the Union cause. Most served as soldiers or sailors while others became recruiters, surgeons, or regimental chaplains. Entire black communities were deeply affected by this war that profoundly and irrevocably changed North American history.
A Shadow on the Household
The extraordinary story of one couple's determination to free themselves and their children from slavery and make a new life in Canada.
Prior to abolition in 1865, as many as 40,000 men, women, and children made the perilous trip north from enslavement in the United States to freedom in Canada. Many were aided by networks that came to be known as the Underground Railroad. And the stories that emerge from the past about these journeys are truly remarkable.
In A Shadow on the Household, Bryan Prince, a descendant of slaves, brings to life the heart-wrenching story of the Weems family and their struggle to liberate themselves from slavery. John Weems, a man who purchased his own freedom, paid the owner of his enslaved wife and eight children an annual fee to keep them together at one plantation. But when that owner died, the Weemses were cruelly separated and scattered throughout the South. Heartbroken and desperate, John resolved to raise the money to buy his family's freedom and reunite them. Mining newspapers, private letters, diaries, estate records, marriage registries, and abolitionist papers for details of a story cloaked in secrecy, Bryan Prince has rescued the Weems family and their plight from historical oblivion.
An unforgettable story of love and persistence, played out in four countries (the United States, Canada, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom) against the backdrop of the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a growing abolitionist movement, and the heroic efforts of the Underground Railroad, the Weems family saga must be read to be believed.
"Prince's concrete details of a desperate time and place bring the family fiercely to life. It is a superb piece of scholarship."
The Globe and Mail
A Shadow on the Household is named to Globe and Mail's top 100 "best and most influential books" for 2009.
One More River to Cross
In the early to mid-19th century, Isaac Brown, a slave, was accused of the attempted murder of a prominent plantation owner, despite there being no evidence of his guilt. Brown, after enduring two brutal floggings, was shipped to a New Orleans slave pen. From there the resourceful Brown was able to make a daring escape to Philadelphia in the free state of Pennsylvania. His biggest error was writing a note informing his free wife and 11 children in Maryland of his whereabouts. The note was intercepted and led to his arrest and extradition back to Maryland.
I Came as a Stranger
Prior to abolition in 1865, as many as 40,000 men, women, and children made the perilous trip north to freedom in Canada with the help of the Underground Railroad. It was neither underground nor was it a railroad, and was most remarkable for its lack of formal organization, so cloaked in secrecy that few facts were recorded while it “ran.”
The story of the Underground Railroad is one of suffering and of bravery, and is not only one of escape from slavery but of beginnings: of people who carved out a new life for themselves in perilous, difficult circumstances. In I Came as a Stranger, Bryan Prince, a descendent of slaves, describes the people who made their way to Canada and the life that awaited them.
From Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden, Ontario to Harriet Tubman’s Canadian base of operations in St. Catharines, the communities founded by former slaves soon produced businessmen, educators, and writers. Yet danger was present in the form of bounty hunters and prejudice.
Honor Book for the Society of School Librarians International’s Best Book Award – Social Studies, Grades 7-12
Winner of 2005 Children’s Nautilus Book Awards (Non-fiction)