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Grant number like: FZ-256400-17

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Richard J. Bell
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD 20742-5141)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018

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

A book on four boys kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1825 and their story's impact on debates about slavery and abolition.

I would use NEH funding to support the completion of the final chapters of my new book. The Lost Boys: A Story of Slavery and Justice on the Reverse Underground Railroad is to be published by Simon & Schuster in late fall 2018. It tells the little-known story of the miraculous escape of four free black children from the clutches of post-revolutionary America’s most fearsome gang of kidnappers and enslavers. Designed to capitalize on the interest in human trafficking spurred by the Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave (2013), The Lost Boys offers a revisionist account of the role of kidnapping in the domestic slave trade in the decades immediately following the American Revolution. It situates black persons at the center of analysis, up-ends simple racial and gender dichotomies, and argues that the kidnapping of free black people into slavery in this critical period was vastly more frequent, pernicious, and politically significant than we have previously supposed.