Escape Claws

REVIEW: In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis


A book for kids about slavery. We all know that slavery is an ugly part of American history. When we think about slavery, we might think of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, and the Emancipation Proclamation. But our history with slavery goes all the way back to the Pilgrims. And every President we had before Lincoln had a stance on the issue. Some of them even owned slaves. How could some of our Founding Fathers, people who wrote about “all men” being created equal, own some of those people as property?

In the Shadow of Liberty


This book, written for students in middle school and high school, does a great job of outlining the history of slavery in America in a clear, matter-of-fact way. It doesn’t shy away from the complexities of the issue. It includes discussion of famous founders who said and wrote that they felt slavery was wrong while they still had enslaved people working for them. The book was honest about the economic issues faced by those with enslaved workers whom they thought should truly be fee. Some of those people felt “powerless” to change things because they were so tied into the systems that perpetuated slavery.

While the focus is on four presidents for the most part – Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson – there are also historic notes about the roles of African Americans in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. And there are also notes about the abolitionist movement and its proponents. All of the “who” is tied to the “when” and “where” of the growth of our country as new states and territories are added and debates raged over slave states or free states.

This is a great resource. It will raise questions for students – which is what reading and studying history should do for all of us! I recommend this for middle school and high school libraries. It would also be good for history classrooms, English classrooms that want to expose students to excellent informational books, and public libraries. This would also be a great resource for families to talk about racial history in America.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥