During the wee hours of the morning, May 13, 1862, the 147-foot sidewheel steamer Planter made its way out of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The Confederate fortifications assumed the ship to be on its usual errands. It never occurred to them that an illiterate, enslaved man could pilot a steamer and escape with a ship full of slaves, and to cap it off, deliver the Planter to the Union forces. But Robert Smalls took the Confederates by surprise, did just that, and won freedom for himself, his crew, his wife and his children.
This little-known story is amazing. Told with great detail, it follows Smalls from his childhood through his rise to become one of the most famous African American men in America, honored and admired in the North, hated in the South. He met with Abraham Lincoln, lectured in Northern cities, learned to read and write, became a man of means and served as a U.S. Congressman. He even bought and lived in the home of his former master. His story deserves to be remembered, not only for his brave escape but for the accomplishments he made throughout his life. The book is highly recommended reading for everyone.
eGalley review Publication date 6.20.17