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The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls

Louise Meriwether
Illustrated by Jonathan Green

The true story of an African American slave who escaped to freedom and became a military and political leader

Robert Smalls, born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, gained fame as an African American hero of the American Civil War. The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls tells the inspirational story of Small’s life as a slave, his boyhood dream of freedom, and his bold and daring plan as a young man to commandeer a Confederate gunboat from Charleston Harbor and escape with fifteen fellow slaves and family members. Smalls joined the Union Navy, rose to the rank of captain, and became the first African American to command a U.S. service ship. After the war Smalls returned to Beaufort, bought the home of his former master, and began a long career in state and national politics.

Originally published in 1971, this new edition of The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls features Louise Meriwether’s original narrative, now illustrated by the colorful paintings of renowned Southern artist Jonathan Green.

Louise Meriwether is a novelist, journalist, and teacher. She earned a B.A. in English from New York University and an M.A. in journalism from the University of California, Los Angeles. In the 1950s Meriwether worked for Universal Studios as the first African American story analyst in Hollywood. Her first novel, Daddy Was a Number Runner, received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. Meriwether has taught creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Houston.

Jonathan Green, a native of Gardens Corner, South Carolina, has gained acclaim as one of the most important contemporary artists of the Southern experience. His work has been exhibited and collected internationally and appears in Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green. Green has been honored with the NAACP Image Awards Key of Life, the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award of the South Carolina Arts Commission, the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto, and other accolades.

“Meriwether’s book captivatingly details Robert Smalls’ journey from slavery to freedom. Through engaging text and Green’s vivid illustrations, young readers will learn the dehumanizing experience of slavery and the personal toll it inflicted. Smalls’ example will serve as a model to young readers about how to persevere, challenge injustice, and take pride in empowering one’s self.”—Courtney Tollison, Furman University, author of World War II and Upcountry South Carolina

“The Freedom Ship reveals how Robert Smalls’, a young slave, dream of freedom for himself and his family propelled him to greatness during the American Civil War. His dramatic biography is movingly told and beautifully illustrated to show how bravery, determination, and concern for others enabled him to become an important political leader and American hero.”—Bernard Powers, professor of history, College of Charleston




8.5 x 11
32 pages
15 color illus.
ISBN 978-1-61117-855-5
Hardcover, $19.99t

ISBN 978-1-61117-856-2
Ebook, $14.99
Young Palmetto Books
Kim Jeffcoat, founding series editor


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