Truth Stranger Than Fiction

December 15, 2008

Truth Stranger Than Fiction: Father Henson's Story of His Own Life

by Josiah Henson


Originally published in 1858

​​In this personal narrative by Josiah Henson -- the escaped slave, soldier, preacher, and founder of an independent black settlement -- seizes his freedom and makes a life for himself in Canada. 


Henson is the inspiration for the literary character from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, whose name is a contemporary curse. Unlike Stowe's derivative character, Henson freed fellow enslaved people and took the cause of chattel slaves and fugitives before Queen Victoria in England.


Born in Maryland in 1789, and sold south to Alabama, a youthful Henson caused the dismissal of an overseer and assumed the position himself. In 1830, he embarked on an escape to Canada.


Active in the Underground Railroad, Henson brought more than a hundred enslaved people to Canada. He later served as an officer in a company of volunteers during the 1837 Canadian Rebellion.



- adapted and revised from publisher


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