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Josiah Henson
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    (June 15, 1789-May 5, 1883)
    Born in Charles County, Maryland
    Former slave turned minister and abolitionist
    Escaped to Ontario, Canada (1830)
    Established Dawn Township as a settlement for other fugitive slaves (1834)
    Also established a trade school
    Wrote the memoir 'The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself' (1849)
    Updated and re-issued as 'Truth Stranger Than Fiction: Father Henson's Story of His Own Life' (1858)
    His owner put him in charge of delivering 18 fellow slaves to his brother's plantation in Kentucky (1825). During the trip he ignored several opportunities to lead the group over the Ohio River into free territory.
    Dawn Township eventually failed (1868), partly due to clashes between Henson and other administrators, and partly because of a population drain when many black inhabitants returned to the US, either to join the Union Army in the Civil War or to resettle after the abolition of slavery.
    He is remembered mainly for having inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'
    His owner agreed to sell him his freedom for $450, and accepted $350 in cash that Henson had earned preaching and an IOU for $100.
    His owner then added an extra zero to the note, making it a $1,000 IOU.
    The combination of being cheated and the threat of being sold to a plantation in the deep South prompted him to escape to Canada with his wife and children.
    As an agent for the Underground Railroad, he helped over a hundred slaves escape to Canada.
    During a trip to England, he so impressed the Archbishop of Canterbury with his oratory and intelligence that the Archbishop asked where he had gone to university. Henson replied, 'The University of Adversity.'
    He was the first black person commemorated on a Canadian postage stamp.

Credit: C. Fishel

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