I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land


Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction, 2007

It was the day before Independence Day, 1831. As his bride, Lucie, was about to be "sold down the river" to the slave markets of New Orleans, young Thornton Blackburn planned a daring – and successful – daylight escape from Louisville. But they were discovered by slave catchers in Michigan and slated to return to Kentucky in chains, until the black community rallied to their cause. The Blackburn Riot of 1833 was the first racial uprising in Detroit history.


Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction


Smardz Frost has combined solid academic research with a compelling story that deserves a wider audience.

The Globe and Mail

Thanks to Dr. Smardz Frost's talent for storytelling, [the Blackburns'] biography, especially the account of their escape from slavery and flight into Canada two years later, reads at times like a fine historical novel.

University Affairs

...an edifying and accessible work that does not relegate slavery to some cob-webbed corner of the past, but portrays it as a central reality of the history of this continent.

The Ottawa Citizen

... a fascinating tale that looks at this history from a fresh perspective. A key point, often forgotten in our rush to praise the Underground Railroad, is emphasized here-- that the real heroes were the slaves themselves, who risked everything for freedom.

Quill & Quire

A most worthy addition to the literature surrounding American slavery...

Kirkus (Starred Review)

Karolyn Smardz Frost's superb research has produced a wonderful account of the underground railroad, elevating Thornton and Lucy Blackburn to their rightful place in the dramatic story of pre-Civil War slave resistance, abolition, and African American life on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. This finely detailed account depicts a truly international antislavery movement.

A deep-digging work of rich historical recovery, I've Got a Home in Glory Land is really two books: a biography of two famous runaways and a sifting of the rock-filled times in which they lived.

To retrace the journey of a runaway slave from the Ohio River Valley all the way to Canada is an immense challenge and a rare accomplishment. In her well-researched and well-written book, Karolyn Smardz Frost has done just that--and more. Bravo for Frost who has saved a remarkable story from the fate of other important histories that have been lost. Only by piecing together such stories and revealing the bold choices runaway slaves were forced to make, the dangers they faces, and the courage required to forge ahead, can we ever fully grasp how difficult it was for a slave in antebellum America to achieve freedom and just how desperate people can be to get free.

...an absorbing book...

The New York Times

This book should be required reading because it details what African-Canadians went through to experience a basic human right-- freedom. Frost uses her research to paint a sickening portrait of the abuses that slaves and escaped fugitive slaves had to endure. Yet that same narrative also shows a strong couple who never resorted to vengeance but used their new-found influence and prosperity to help others in their own quests for freedom.

The Chronicle Herald

Frost's compelling book pays tribute to these Canadian pioneers and brings to light a story that deserves to be remembered.

The Gazette, Montreal

...a rare and moving portrait of the 'peculiar institution' that was slavery in America.

Owen Sound Sun Times

I Have a Home in Glory Land is a remarkable book, appealing in its impeccable research and in the excitement and suspense of the story it tells.

Books in Canada

A vivid historic tale of slavery, freedom, love and history...

The Intelligencer, Belleville

About the Author

Karolyn Smardz Frost

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Karolyn Smardz Frost

Karolyn Smardz Frost is an archaeologist, historian and award-winning author who teaches at York and Acadia. Her book I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in 2007. She co-edited A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland, which won the Historical Society of Michigan Book Award.