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In the shadow of Liberty : the hidden history of slavery, four presidents, and five black lives

Call Numbers

  • 306.362 D2628 TEEN (POW)
  • J 306.362 DAVI (CEN, EAS, POW)

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First edition.

Publication Information

New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2016.

Physical Description

xvii, 286 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


Ages 10 to 14.


"An examination of American slavery through the true stories of five enslaved people who were considered the property of some of our best-known presidents"--

Did you know that many of America's Founding Fathers--who fought for liberty and justice for all--were slave owners?

Through the powerful stories of five enslaved people who were "owned" by four of our greatest presidents, this book helps set the record straight about the role slavery played in the founding of America. From Billy Lee, valet to George Washington, to Alfred Jackson, faithful servant of Andrew Jackson, these dramatic narratives explore our country's great tragedy--that a nation "conceived in liberty" was also born in shackles.

These stories help us know the real people who were essential to the birth of this nation but traditionally have been left out of the history books. Their stories are true--and they should be heard.


  • Introduction: Out of the shadows
  • "The loudest yelps for liberty"
  • Slavery in America time line: 1492-1700
  • Stolen from Africa
  • Slavery in America time line: 1705-1776
  • "My mulatto man William" : the story of Billy Lee
  • Slavery in America time line: 1777-1800
  • "Absconded from the household of the President" : the story of Ona Judge
  • Slavery in America time line: 1801-1816
  • "Mr. Jefferson's people" : the story of Isaac Granger
  • Slavery in America time line: 1817-1828
  • White House, black man : the story of Paul Jennings
  • Slavery in America time line: 1829-1838
  • "How would you like to be a slave?" : the story of Alfred Jackson
  • Slavery in America time line: 1839-1850
  • Afterword: "That all may be free."

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