It speaks to our days for many reasons even beyond racial prejudices still existing

Wanting to read a book about Black History during the month of February a friend recommended “Master Slave/ Husband & Wife” by Elyon Woo (Simon & Schuster, January 17, 2023)

I could not put it down! Fascinating story, a real one, of the escape of two slaves from Georgia to Boston, and beyond. A couple determined to find freedom for themselves and their progeny. There they go!, disguised as master and slave, and empowered by their love as husband and wife.

Though there are stories of other daring  escapes, this seems to be the more colorful, more imaginative. Several books have been published before, some by the protagonists themselves, based on the stories they shared when becoming, for a while, public lecturers in the abolitionist movement. This last book is the most thoroughly researched, though when facts were missing the author opted for the most probable sequence of events.

The book cover

It is 1848. The account of Ellen and William Craft 1,000 miles trip by train and steamboat is at times breathtaking, but this adventure is only a small part of the book. In the many chapters that follow we learn of the turmoil taking place in America, between the North and the South, leading to the Civil War. We also get plenty of information about the various anti slavery movements.

When the Fugitive Slave Act was promulgated in 1850, Slave Catchers were sent to find the fugitives and returned the human property to their owners. Fearing to be caught, the Crafts left Boston ready for the long journey to England where in 1833 an Act of Parliament abolished slavery. Finally sheltered in London they realized their dream of creating a family in freedom and stability.

After the Civil War, they returned to their country and ready to enjoy their rights as full citizens in the US, they found that still the opportunities for the black population had not changed so much.

This history speaks to our days for many reasons even beyond racial prejudices still existing.

For instance, when the capture of certain slaves failed, faked news were circulated about them.  There were also cruel comments about the marriage of William and Ellen. Their contemporaries could not understand that they could often go in separate ways to pursue their own special interest and activism without detriment to their love. Or that Ellen, a woman, could manage her own finances.

It is book worth reading.. Dolores Gracian