Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
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James Pennington
Harriet Tubman
Frederick Douglass
Caroline Hammond
Josiah Henson
Charles Ball
Teacher Tips

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson was born a slave in 1789 in Charles County, Maryland. He was 41 years old when he escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad. In Canada, he continued to help escaped slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe read his autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson. Stowe later wrote a book called Uncle Tom's Cabin. Uncle Tom is a very important character in her book. Josiah Henson was an inspiration for the character of Uncle Tom.

  Read and listen to the entire passage from Josiah Henson's biography. Go to the interactive »
(Clicking on the link will open a new browser window)
Note: The audio you will hear is a dramatic reading of the text.



Look at a short section of the narrative:

  • Henson's childhood memories about the day were he was sold at auction.

  • What Henson's mother did when she found out her new owner was going to purchase only her and none of her children.

  • How long Henson had dreamed of freedom.

  • How Henson planned to obtain freedom.

    Read another primary source document.






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