Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home
Book Talk: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Book Signing: 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home. Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War.
About the Author
Dr. Richard Bell is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home (2019). He has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for teaching faculty in the Maryland state system. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Historical Society, as an elected member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
This event is in partnership with the African American Museum of Philadelphia
The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library specializing in American history and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Open to the public free of charge, the Library Company houses an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs, and works of art. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s oldest cultural institution and served as the Library of Congress from the Revolutionary War to 1800.