Title: Amos Fortune, Free Man
Author: Elizabeth Yates
Major Themes: Africa, Amos Fortune, Colonial America, Massachusetts, New England, Slavery
Synopsis: A young king was kidnapped from his village in Africa and taken to New England as a slave.
I remember reading Amos Fortune, Free Man some 20 years ago, and really, really liking it. In fact, this book might be what got me searching the library for anything by Elizabeth Yates that I could find (and I’ve liked every book I’ve read by her). It is excellent!
Amos Fortune was born to be a king in his village in Africa. He served his father, the king, loyally, and cared for his crippled younger sister. One spring night, slavers surrounded the village and captured all the able-bodied people; the young man who would be renamed Amos found himself a captive. After surviving the long, horrible trip to New England, he was purchased by a Quaker and became part of the family—after his master’s death 15 years later he was bought by another man and became part of that man’s family, learning yet another trade over the next 20 years.
Amos was finally given his freedom when he was in his 60s. How could he use his freedom to help others? He devoted his life to helping his fellow Negroes, as he tried to live his life the way God wanted him to. Over and over again he saved up large sums of money, then used them for others. This is quite an inspiring story of a quiet, Godly life.
This true story is a wonderful book to read any time, but it’s also a great resource if you’re studying colonial America or slavery. Most books about slaves tell of people who had cruel masters; Amos did not. He was always treated as one of the family—but he still wanted his freedom. I also found it interesting the way he viewed poverty and shiftlessness as another type of slavery, and did what he could to help a person gain freedom from that. His strong faith in God and deep desire to do God’s will shines through strongly, too.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15