Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Ramblings... Quakers, Slaves & Hobbits

With Christmas just around the corner, I've not posted here all week. But I have been squeezing in the editing around the holiday festivities. Yanking out two chapters from the early section of the book has proved a challenge, and I've had to do much rewriting. But in so doing I introduced a third character much more quickly into the story, and this character, a Quaker, brings with him quite a bit of conflict.

Today I want to give a "shout out" to Beth Shope, who has been a great source of information and correction for me in all things Quaker-related. Thanks so much Beth. Go read her blog at The Stone River and check out the snips of her WIP, Knife Giver, as well as her articulate posts on the writing craft.

Well of course there were bits of the yanked chapters that still needed to be worked into the story, and I've spent most of this week in the time I had for writing tucking some of those threads back into the weave. Which means the word count crept back up.

"Nobody panic. It was deliberate," said Gimli.

Speaking of Gimli, and totally off the subject, I recently learned that Peter Jackson will be producing the film version of The Hobbit, after all. He's apparently buried the hatchet with New Line and things are green lighted. Cool. I wonder who will play the younger Bilbo....?

Back to Quakers. By 1793 the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were strongly anti-slavery in their views (the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting prohibited members from owning slaves in 1776). Quakers played a large part in the eventual emancipation of slaves, and were instrumental in the operation of what became known as the Underground Railroad.

Slaves have been escaping or attempting to escape bondage since slavery existed, and the lucky ones found help along the way, but in the late 18th Century United States what is known as the Underground Railroad didn't exist in any highly organized form, at least not on a grand scale. A slave generally set out on his or her own, as opportunity and means presented itself; most often they were recaptured or killed. But some reached their goal. Perhaps as early as 1787 Quakers were involved in hiding and aiding runaway slaves. And it's no stretch of the imagination (well, mine anyway) to believe that someone, somewhere, during the late 18th Century took it into his (or her) head to become the first guide, or "conductor" as they came to be called. Many escaped slaves, like Harriet Tubman in the 19th century, risked their lives repeatedly to go back into the south to spirit their brothers and sisters away out of bondage.

Recommended reading on the subject of Quakers and The Underground Railroad:


THE QUIET REBELS, The Story of Quakers in America. Margaret Hope Bacon. Philadelphia, PA; New Society Publishers, 1985.

BOUND FOR CANAAN, The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. Fergus M. Bordewich. New York, NY; Harper Collins, 2005.

PASSAGES TO FREEDOM, The Underground Railroad in History and Memory. David W. Blight, ed. Washington, DC; Smithsonian Books, 2004.

2 comments:

  1. I believe the Quaker-founded Guilford College here in my town was a station on the Underground Railroad. One of my sons attends there now, as did various members of my husband's family down through the years.

    And thanks for the shout-out. You are most kind. :)

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  2. Beth,

    Very cool. Maybe some of his family were involved, being Quakers. Do they go back as far as pre-Civ War? I've become intrigued with the grass roots beginnings of the URR. Didn't set out to be, but that's where one of my characters took me.

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