Book Review: Amos Fortune: Free Man

Aug 10, 2023 | Blog, Book Reviews

by Elizabeth Yates

This book was excellent! One of my favorite things about the curriculum we use is the heavy use of books like this one that do a great job of bringing the historical context to life.
So with this book, we were taken from a village in Africa where Amos was kidnapped, across the Atlantic on a slave ship to Boston (almost forgot they originally also had slavery up north). He was sold to a Quaker family that taught him English and to read and write. The Quaker gentleman died before he could free Amos and so he was auctioned off to a tanner and learned that trade before he eventually bought his freedom.
He excelled as a tanner and worked to buy the freedom of two women, who each died within the year that they were freed and then he worked to free a third woman and her little girl. They end up married and move near a mountain to build their home.
There is so much detail of the challenges he faced in each phase of his life, how various people treated him, how he thought of things. How he was intent on not letting the ugliness of others affect how he lived.
He’s a wonderful example to aspire to. Nothing about his life was fair. None of it. His youth and the prime of his life were stolen from him. His father was murdered, he never saw his sister again. He was forced to leave his home. He spent a large part of his life as property and even once free, he always had to be wary about what he said or did because of his skin color. And yet he did not let himself become enslaved to the notion of how life should have been. He always pushed forward, working with what he had, helping others and looking forward to a time when things would be made right. What an incredible human being! I’m glad we’ve all gotten to know him in this house.

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