Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
Eyewitness to History
about the underground railroad
following the footsteps
eyewitness to history
figure it out
mapping it out
secrets: language, signs and symbols
create a quilt block
living history
underground railroad library
You are here!
 
James Pennington
Harriet Tubman
Frederick Douglass
Caroline Hammond
Josiah Henson
Charles Ball
Teacher Tips

James Pennington

James Pennington was an abolitionist. He was born a slave in Maryland. As a young man he worked as a stonemason and blacksmith. In 1827, when he was about twenty years old, he escaped to Pennsylvania. There, a friendly Quaker took him in. The Quaker taught him to read and write. The Fugitive Blacksmith is his autobiography. It was published in a magazine called the Afro-American in 1859.


  Read and listen to the entire passage from James Pennington's autobiography. 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:

  • What slaves on a tobacco plantation might do on a Sunday afternoon in November.

  • How Pennington felt on the day of his escape.

  • What Pennington thought might happen to his family after he left.

  • If Pennington knew what direction to take to freedom or how far he had to go.

    Read another primary source document.






  • classroom resourcesscreensaverfor parentsabout this sitethinkport home
    ©2017 Maryland Public Television. All Rights Reserved.