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Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674802993, Paperback)An impressive feat of detective work lies behind this portrait of Shadrach Minkins, the first black man arrested in New England under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Minkins had escaped from slavery in Virginia and come to Boston, where he was arrested in February 1851. Before his case could come to trial, however, a group of black citizens invaded the courtroom and spirited Minkins away. Thereafter, except for scattered newspaper accounts and anecdotes, Minkins was lost to history. In uncovering evidence that Minkins settled in Montreal, where he helped establish a community of blacks who fled slavery, author Gary Collison restores Minkins and paints a fascinating portrait of those troubled times.
(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 06 Jan 2013 07:44:37 -0500)
On February 15, 1851, Shadrach Minkins was serving breakfast at a coffeehouse in Boston when history caught up with him. The first runaway to be arrested in New England under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, this illiterate black man from Virginia found himself the catalyst of one of the most dramatic episodes of rebellion and legal wrangling before the Civil War. In a remarkable effort of historical sleuthing, Gary Collison has recovered the true story of Shadrach Minkins' life and times and perilous flight. His book restores an extraordinary chapter to our collective history and at the same time offers a rare and engrossing picture of the life of an ordinary black man in nineteenth-century North America. As Minkins' journey from slavery to freedom unfolds, we see what day-to-day life was like for a slave in Norfolk, Virginia, for a fugitive in Boston, and for a free black man in Montreal. Collison recreates the drama of Minkins' arrest and his subsequent rescue by a band of black Bostonians, who spirited the fugitive to freedom in Canada. He shows us Boston's black community, moved to panic and action by the Fugitive Slave Law, and the previously unknown community established in Montreal by Minkins and other refugee blacks from the United States. And behind the scenes, orchestrating events from the disastrous Compromise of 1850 through the arrest of Minkins and the trial of his rescuers, is Daniel Webster, who, through the exigencies of his dimming political career, took the role of villain.
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