WINSLOW — Author Mark Alan Leslie will share the tale of the brave families who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics and elsewhere en route to the next secret “way station” on the “railroad” at 6 pm. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Winslow Public Library, 136 Halifax St.

Maine’s connection to the famous Underground Railroad that helped free runaway slaves in the mid-1800s does not begin and end with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Indeed, people from Kittery to Fort Fairfield, including Waterville-Winslow, Augusta, China and Vassalboro, conspired to break the law — the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 — forming a network of “safe houses,” hiding slaves from slave hunters and scurrying them to Canada. If caught, these Underground Railroad “conductors” faced fines and jail, according to a news release from the library.

“Some called slavery ‘the absolute power of one person over another — the vilest human behavior and institution,'” said Leslie, according to the release. “Others called it ‘essential to our economy and prosperity’ and even ‘a humane institution which provided food, shelter and family’ to the African race.”

“Slavery was the one issue that has been able to tear America apart, and that included Mainers,” he added.

And slavery remains in the news. The Treasury Department plans to add Harriet Tubman, a heroine of the Underground Railroad, to the $20 bill. Also, the Brunswick home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was placed on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The former parlor room, where it is believed she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is open to the public as “Harriet’s Writing Room.”

Leslie’s novel “True North: Tice’s Story” is about a slave’s escape over the Underground Railroad through Maine. A book signing will follow Leslie’s presentation.

For more information, contact Winslow Public Library at 872-1978, [email protected], or winslow-me.gov.

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