Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Iíve read Uncle Tomís Cabin. Iíve read and studied American history. Iíve seen Prigg v. Pennsylvania mentioned in textbooks. I never knew the real story behind it. Jessica McCannís All Different Kinds of Free makes one question the humanity of many of our ancestors.
Uncle Tomís Cabin moved me. But All Different Kinds of Free shook me. I was so moved of the story of a woman who caused the historic ruling of Prigg v. Pennsylvania. A woman is raised a free slave. She is noted as one in every white manís census. She is markedly not on the list of a slave ownerís assets upon his death though she lived and worked on his plantation. Margaret Morgan was born free. Her parents were kidnapped from Africa and made slaves in Maryland. Their master frees them all resulting in Margaret being born a free woman. She marries a man who bought his own freedom. After giving birth to two children, they move to Pennsylvania where they have another child and establish a home in a community accepting of black people.
After the death of her former master, the daughter and son-in-law take over and convince his widow that Margaret was never free and should return to help pay her debts her husband left her with. A bounty hunter is hired who kidnaps Margaret and her children despite the counts in Pennsylvania upholding her rights as a free woman. I wish I could say the story is good, but there is much sadness to be read as well has joy and hope.
What really stuck out in this story was the heartless actions of people who called themselves Christian while shredding the very message they claimed to believe in. Not only did they treat slaves badly, which most of us know about, they took the freedom and justice that many, white and black, died for to achieve in the American Revolution and desecrated it. Cruel people took earned and merciful granted freedom and turned it into a mockery. Watching the courts side against the freedom of anyone of darker skin was heart-wrenching. I couldnít help but wonder where the justice was in any of it. I was ashamed of our leaders that sat in government during that time.
Ms. McCann takes the name of a woman that history has mostly forgotten and brought her to the spotlight where she should have been all along. Too long has the name of her kidnapper, Prigg, been the one mentioned in books and analyzed in government classes. The name of the innocent whose life along with her husband and three children were ripped apart should have been given more honor. I can only thank Ms. McCann for wanting to know more about the real victim of this crime and tell the world that Margaret Morgan lived.
This is a great book. This is not a book for young children. Older teens might benefit from it as there is a little bit of language, rape, and beatings. This does not take up much of the book at all but is present. A great supplement while studying early 1800s America or American government.
Note: This book was supplied by the publisher upon my request.