The Underground Railroad: A Selection of Authentic Narratives – by William Still


Like millions of my race, my mother and father were born slaves, but were not contented to live and die so. My father purchased himself in early manhood by hard toil. Mother saw no way for herself and children to escape the horrors of bondage but by flight. Bravely, with her four little ones, with firm faith in God and an ardent desire to be free, she forsook the prison-house, and succeeded, through the aid of my father, to reach a free State. Here life had to be begun anew. The old familiar slave names had to be changed, and others, for prudential reasons, had to be found.

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First published in 1872, The Underground Railroad is a fascinating collection of slaves’ own narratives of their escapes from bondage. Their accounts provide a horrifying window into the reality of the ‘peculiar institution’ and the trials they had to endure to escape it. This abridged collection consists of a wide variety of slave narratives faithfully recorded by William Still, a conductor on the underground railroad. Along with the narratives are contemporary newspaper articles and personal correspondence between slaves and members of the underground railroad that place the reader back into the world of the abolitionist movement in America.


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