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Synopsis

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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