I've Got a Home in Glory Land
A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad
By Karolyn Smardz Frost
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374164812, 480pp.)
Publication Date: February 6, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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It was the day before Independence Day, 1831. As his bride, Lucie, was about to be “sold down the river” to the slave markets of New Orleans, young Thornton Blackburn planned a daring—and successful—daylight escape from Louisville. But they were discovered by slave catchers in Michigan and slated to return to Kentucky in chains, until the black community rallied to their cause. The Blackburn Riot of 1833 was the first racial uprising in Detroit history. The couple was spirited across the river to Canada, but their safety proved illusory. In June 1833, Michigan’s governor demanded their extradition. The Blackburn case was the first serious legal dispute between Canada and the United States regarding the Underground Railroad. The impassioned defense of the Blackburns by Canada’s lieutenant governor set precedents for all future fugitive-slave cases. The Blackburns settled in Toronto and founded the city’s first taxi business. But they never forgot the millions who still suffered in slavery. Working with prominent abolitionists, Thornton and Lucie made their home a haven for runaways. The Blackburns died in the 1890s, and their fascinating tale was lost to history. Lost, that is, until a chance archaeological discovery in a downtown Toronto school yard brought the story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn again to light.
Karolyn Smardz Frost is an internationally recognized archaeologist and historian. She lives in Collingwood, Ontario.
"Karolyn Smardz Frost's superb research has produced a wonderful account of the underground railroad, elevating Thornton and Lucy Blackburn to their rightful place in the dramatic story of pre-Civil War slave resistance, abolition, and African American life on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. This finely detailed account depicts a truly international antislavery movement." -- James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, coauthors of Slavery and the Making of America and Hard Road to Freedom "A deep-digging work of rich historical recovery, I've Got a Home in Glory Land is really two books: a biography of two famous runaways and a sifting of the rock-filled times in which they lived." -- Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family and Peninsula of Lies
"To retrace the journey of a runaway slave from the Ohio River Valley all the way to Canada is an immense challenge and a rare accomplishment. In her well-researched and well-written book, Karolyn Smardz Frost has done just that -- and more. Bravo for Frost who has saved a remarkable story from the fate of other important histories that have been lost. Only by piecing together such stories and revealing the bold choices runaway slaves were forced to make, the dangers they faced, and the courage required to forge ahead, can we ever fully grasp how difficult it was for a slave in antebellum America to achieve freedom and just how desperate people can be to get free." -- Ann Hagedorn, author of Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad