Chapter One: The AncestorsI am not what you call me. I am what I respond to.
The city into which Richard Holmes stepped was a city of contradictions. In the heart of world democracy, human slavery was legal. The recently passed Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had ensured his vulnerability to recapture, for crossing a state line was no longer sure protection: those who captured fugitives would be rewarded and harboring refugees was a crime. If found, Richard Holmes could legally be whipped, resold or even executed.
"Nor do I exaggerate how I understand my great-grandfather came here," his...