A Fluid Frontier

Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland

Reviewed by Jessica Knapp

Posted March 19, 2018

In A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland, editors Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker present essays by both Canadian and American academic and community historians. The collection aims to bridge the African-American and African-Canadian experiences in this transnational region before the American Civil War.

In thirteen essays divided among five themes, A Fluid Frontier introduces readers to the people, places, and events that were instrumental in leading more than thirty thousand refugees to freedom. The short, informative chapters are easy to read, and many of them are illustrated by maps and historic images.

The editors set out to debunk the myths and legends of the Underground Railroad that have been perpetuated in both American and Canadian histories. They do this by seeking to refocus attention on the fact that “African people’s experience of freedom predated their arrival in the West, fuelled their discontent with slavery, and motivated the inexorable migrations that became the Underground Railroad.”

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This article originally appeared in the April-May 2018 issue of Canada’s History.

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