Two rare First Edition 1858 copies of "Truth Stranger than Fiction Father Henson's Story of His Own Life" with an introduction by Mrs. Harriet Stowe and with illustrated frontispiece of Josiah Henson. Published by John P. Jewett and Company, Boston, hardcover edition. Henson was an American slave who escaped to Canada, founding a school for fugitive slaves in Canada. He was a conductor of the Underground Railroad and a member of the Canadian Army (his image is on recently offered Canadian Stamps).
-- BACKGROUND: Josiah Henson (1789-1883) has been called "the most controversial former slave ever to make his way to freedom and safety in Upper Canada." Born on a plantation in Charles County, Maryland. Henson, early on in life was shown the cruelty and brutality of slavery. Henson’s father once tried to defend his mother from an overseer. His punishment was 100 lashes, an ear cut off and his sale to another slave owner further south. His father was never heard from again. In 1830 his slave owner, Amos Riley secretly arranged his sale which would separate Henson from his family. Upon learning of the plan Henson escaped north to Canada with his wife and his children. After 3 years of working as a farm laborer, the idea of a self supporting Black Colony began to form in Henson’s mind. He hoped for a population that would be self employed and would have a chance to get a general education. His dream became a reality when he helped to create the Dawn Settlement near Chatham, Ont. Henson’s life was recorded in a book titled, "The Life of Josiah Henson, Formally a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada." It is from this book, many believe that American Author Harriet Beecher Stowe got the basis for her popular novel "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." Josiah Henson was active until his death, lecturing throughout Canada and the United States. While he was fond of the fame and prestige, his main goal in life was to improve the living conditions for Upper Canada’s Black population.