Publisher's summary: "Free Boy" is the story of a 13-year-old slave who escaped from Washington Territory to freedom in Canada on the West's underground railroad.
When James Tilton came to Washington Territory as surveyor-general in the 1850s, he brought with his household young Charles Mitchell, a slave he had likely received as a wedding gift from a Maryland cousin. The story of Charlie's escape in 1860 on a steamer bound for Victoria and the help he received from free blacks show how Civil War era issues in the United States affected the Northwest.
My take: I enjoyed this book immensely. As a fan of history, I was excited to read and review "Free Boy." McConaghy and Bentley did a surprisingly fantastic job telling Charlie's story, considering the limited, almost nonexistent, information there was about the young slave boy.
By putting together the history and actions of his master, James Tilton, the typical life of a slave in the 1850s and life in the newly discovered Washington Territory, combined with a fictional narrative at the end of each chapter, the authors were able to create a very realistic and highly probable story of this runaway slave. It was also interesting to get an inside view of the taming of the Washington Territory.
My rating: A must-read for anyone interested in history of the Northwest, especially Olympia, Wash., and the history of slavery.