I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land by Karolyn Smardz Frost
Filed under: General Reading,Goveror General's Literary Award — Ibis at 11:10 am on Saturday, January 26, 2008

From the publisher:
“This epic story is the first entirely original biography of a fugitive slave couple since the 19th century.

I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land is the fascinating and absorbing story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, two fugitive slaves from Kentucky who made a daring daylight escape from slavery in 1831. Smardz Frost has written an epic account of this couple’s extraordinary life and their struggle for freedom – the choices they made, the dangers they faced, and the courage they had to forge ahead and create new lives for themselves. It is both a devastating portrait of the conditions – and the politics – of slavery and an inspiring account of two intrepid fugitive slaves whose flight to freedom changed US and Canadian history.”

Other useful links:
site for I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land

My thoughts:

I was walking away from the computer here at the library the other day when I happened to see this Challenge book on the New Books shelf. I thought it would be a good choice as a palette cleanser after Not Wanted on the Voyage and The Subtle Knife. I thought it would be putdownable and so I’d be able to read just bits and pieces while I get my move completed. Yes on the first, no on the second. It was gripping and I read it all in about a day and a half.

This is a fantastic book! I recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in American or Canadian history.

In 1985, there was an archaeological dig under a school playground in the heart of Toronto. This had been the home of two fugitive slaves, a married couple, who had escaped from Kentucky, were the catalysts for the first “race riot” in Detroit, had settled in Toronto protected by the government of Upper Canada from several attempts at extradition, who had started the first cab company in Toronto (his colours, red & yellow, are still the colours of the TTC — the municipal transit commission), and became involved in Abolition efforts and helped other refugees from slavery to settle in western Ontario.

This book is a geneology and biography of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, a description of Kentucky, Detroit, western Ontario, and Toronto of the nineteenth century, a history of slavery and the abolitionist movement in the U.S. and Canada, a spotlight on U.S./Canada relations of the time, and a history of York/Toronto and the Black community there.

The author did almost 20 years of research to piece together all of the details scattered among newspapers, censuses, court documents, geneological and property records.

Great book (and well deserving of the GG award)!

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