Few people pursue the research level of Jacqueline L. Tobin in traveling, reading old papers, sifting through letters, discovering ancient pamphlets, and interviewing descendents. The information in From Midnight to Dawn is inestimable, and Tobin's description of the black journey from Midnight, Detroit's nickname, to the black Ontario settlement of Dawn is gripping.
Few Americans realize that the Underground Railroad's terminus was in Canada. Many believe it ran from the Deep South to Ohio and dispersed into thin air, leaving Uncle Tom's Cabin behind in Kentucky.
Tobin traces the lives of ex-slaves up though Cincinnati and the intolerable Black Laws, though the Fugitive Slave Act, up the Toledo-Cincinnati Canal, across Lake Erie, and into nearly the whole of Ontario Province. There, Uncle Tom's Cabin is made material in the home of freedman Josiah Henson, beaten so badly as a young slave that he could never raise his hands head high again. He and his family were welcomed to Canada and received by Queen Victoria at the 1851 London World's Fair. He was forced to display his abolitionist materials at the American table, but erected a sign stating he had fled to Canada in order to survive. The sign drew Victoria's attention and everyone else's eye and support. Henson lived to be a respected political activist and public speaker until his death at age 94.
Tobin's blacks are not caricatures, but people like our present neighbors and leaders that thought and spoke intelligently, even if they had not yet learned to read. Henson himself wrote an autobiography that Harriet Beecher Stowe consulted when writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. Abolitionist John Brown is discussed in detail, but so is Harper's Ferry and its sole survivor, a brave black man. Female black news editor Mary Shadd also is portrayed in depth.
Such material is not presented in classrooms. However, Tobin presents dozens of such chronicles expertly, with photos and maps created by the author.
All Americans, ages 12 - adult should read Midnight to Dawn and discover the real abusiveness of slavery and discrimination.
Armchair Interviews agrees.