From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad

Jacqueline Tobin, Author, Hettie Jones, With with Hettie Jones. Doubleday $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-51431-6

Popular and familiar as the escape-to-Canada image is, little attention has been paid to the lives of the more than 30,000 blacks—some born free, others self-emancipated—who found refuge there. Tobin's highly readable account traces the 19th-century communities in Canada West (today's Ontario), from the first organized black settlement led by a group from Cincinnati in 1829 to the "largest and most successful" one, established in 1849. Biographical sketches of these " 'trans-border citizens, whose lives entwined with both countries" enhance the local history. Among them are well-known fugitives who dropped out of American history as their lives continued in Canada (Anthony Burns, William Parker, Henry Bibb) and major figures whose Canadian sojourn is often buried (William Wells Brown visited; Harriet Tubman made St. Catharines her home for six years). There's an enlightening portrait of Josiah Henson (the model for Stowe's Uncle Tom) as a political activist, a fascinating look at the pioneering journalist and early feminist Mary Ann Shadd and an intriguing section on the deep "Canadian connection to Harpers Ferry," as John Brown meets with the fugitives in Chatham. Accessible and fluidly written, the book will appeal to general readers. (Jan. 16)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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