Originally published 03/28/2013
When we think of the cruel legacy of slavery and the bloody Civil War that ended this vile institution, it’s unlikely that images of the verdant, sparsely populated Washington Territory soon come to mind. But settlers brought the seeds of the war with them, and issues of slavery, race, secession, and civil rights divided communities and loyalties in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle public historian Dr. Lorraine McConaghy and co-author Judy Bentley uncover and detail a fascinating story of this era in Washington Territory in their new book Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master (University of Washington Press). Based on extensive research, they chronicle the odyssey of a young slave, Charles Mitchell, who escaped from slavery in Olympia to freedom in Victoria, Canada.