Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Version: Unabridged
Author: Eric Foner
Narrator: J. D. Jackson
Genres: Non-Fiction, North America, Social Science
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Published In: January 2015
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 9 hours
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They are little known to history: Sydney Howard Gay, an abolitionist newspaper editor; Louis Napoleon, a furniture polisher; Charles B. Ray, a black minister. At great risk they operated the underground railroad in New York, a city whose businesses, banks, and politics were deeply enmeshed in the slave economy. In secret coordination with black dockworkers who alerted them to the arrival of fugitives and with counterparts in Norfolk, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Albany, and Syracuse, underground-railroad operatives in New York helped more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reach freedom between 1830 and 1860. Their defiance of the notorious Fugitive Slave Law inflamed the South. White and black, educated and illiterate, they were heroic figures in the ongoing struggle between slavery and freedom.

Making brilliant use of fresh evidence-including the meticulous record of slave rescues secretly kept by Gay-Eric Foner elevates the underground railroad from folklore to sweeping history. 

Reviews (2)


Written by Alex M. on September 16th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This book is about an essential piece of history, and the author clearly did a huge amount of research. Unfortunately it's simply not structured in a way that compels. In spite of the subject matter often being either devastating or exhilarating, Mr. Foner presents much of it without a larger context and without making the story really evolve. Ultimately, it's a well documented chronology of events in New York City, with a few genuinely intriguing insights. Worth the read, but could have been better.

Written by Will Taylor on April 10th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This is a great history book. This is one of the best I've ever read.

Author Details

Author Details

Foner, Eric

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Col"umbia University, is the author of numerous works on American history, including Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War; Tom Paine" and "Revolutionary America"; and "The Story of American Freedom". He has served as president of both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, and has been named Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities.