Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery


The Price of Freedom:  How One Town Stood Up to Slavery
by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Walker, 2012.  Unpaged.  Nonfiction.

     In January of 1856 John Price and two fellow slaves crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky into the free state of Ohio.  Welcomed by a Quaker family whose home was a "station" on the Underground Railroad, they hid out for a couple of weeks before moving on towards Canada. Escaped slaves in those days were subject to the Fugitive Slave Act which meant that even if they crossed into free territory, they could legally be captured and returned to their owners in the South, which is why many moved north to Canada where slavery was illegal. Oberlin, Ohio, was a town near Lake Erie where hundreds of slaves found shelter before moving on. John Price and his friend Frank liked Oberlin so much he decided to stay, but two years after he settled there, slavers captured him to take him back to Kentucky.  Before they could leave Ohio, the people of Oberlin and the nearby city of Wellington, formed a posse to take John away from his captors. John was freed and though his rescuers spent three months in jail for defying the Fugitive Slave Act, he was spared a return to slavery in a courageous action which contributed to the beginning of hostilities in the Civil War. The Fradins do their usual fine job of conveying historical incidents in an exciting, enticing manner and Velasquez's illustrations are stirring and suspenseful.

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