The Reverse Underground Railroad: Slavery and Kidnapping in Pre-Civil War America

March 4, 2020 @ 5:45 pm - 7:00 pm |

Join us for a talk with Dr. Richard Bell, the author of Stolen, a new book that tells the incredible story of five boys whose courage forever changed the fight against slavery in America.

 Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home.

Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War.

$10 for CHS members, $15 for non-members. Light refreshments will be served. Please let us know you’re coming by calling (860) 236-5621 x238 or emailing rsvp@chs.org.

Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager, at natalie_belanger@chs.org.

About the Speaker

Richard Bell (Ph.D. Harvard) is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. His research interests focus on American history between 1750 and 1877. His published work includes We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States (2012), and Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America (2012). Prof. Bell is also the author of several journal articles, most recently in the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American LiteratureSlavery and Abolition, and History Compass. Prof. Bell has held research fellowships at more than a dozen libraries and institutes, including the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition and Resistance at Yale University. He is also a frequent lecturer and debater on the C-Span television network. He is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards.

 

Photography credit: Thai Nguyen

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