Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home

Prof. Richard Bell, University of Maryland

Thursday, October 8, 7:00 pm ET

Zoom — https://tennessee.zoom.us/j/92147796922 / Meeting ID 921 4779 6922 / Passcode Stolen


A gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice.

Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home.


“Meticulously researched…Stolen is a remarkable narrative, in part, because of how Bell manages to clearly relate the complex politics of the time without ever legitimizing the choices made by those who bought and sold human lives.” -NPR

“In Stolen Richard Bell brings to life amoral con men, heartless slave dealers and suffering victims. He vividly re-creates the squalid social environments of interstate human trafficking. His superbly researched and engaging book exposes previously hidden horrors of American slavery.” – The Wall Street Journal 



On Thursday, October 8, at 7:00 p.m., Prof. Richard Bell from the University of Maryland will speak via Zoom about his book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home.

Sponsored by the Department of History and the Africana Studies Program, Bell will lecture and host a discussion about this gripping and true story that shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War.

Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home, which is shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award.

Please direct inquiries to Dr. Mark A. Johnson (mark-johnson01@utc.edu)

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