My Brother’s Keeper

Overview

The story of African Canadians who fled slavery in the United States but returned to enlist in the Union forces during the American Civil War.

On New Year’s Eve in 1862, blacks from across British North America joined in spirit with their American fellows in silent vigils to await the enactment of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The terms declared that slaves who were held in the districts that were in rebellion would be free and that blacks would now be allowed to enlist in the Union Army and participate in the civil war that had then raged for more than a year and a half.

African Canadians who had fled from the United States had not forgotten their past and eagerly sought to do their part in securing rights and liberty for all. Leaving behind their freedom in Canada, many enlisted in the Union cause. Most served as soldiers or sailors while others became recruiters, surgeons, or regimental chaplains. Entire black communities were deeply affected by this war that profoundly and irrevocably changed North American history.

Reviews

Award-winning Canadian author Bryan Prince has turned out another in his growing series of Underground Railroad books, this one perhaps his best yet. My Brother’s Keeper portrays shared experiences of many former slaves leaving their freedom to take part in the Civil War.

This work adds much to a story that, although well-told from the American side, has not yet given due consideration to the contributions of African Canadians.

Ontario Historical Society Bulletin

…[an] excellent contribution to the themes of Canada and the Civil war and of the black experience in Canada.

Civil War Book Review

Abundantly illustrated with photographs, this hefty book is well-supported with endnotes, bibliography, and index.

Canada’s History

About the Author

Bryan Prince

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Bryan Prince photo

Bryan Prince

Bryan Prince is a respected historical researcher on the Underground Railroad, slavery, and abolition. His previous books include One More River to Cross, A Shadow on the Household, and I Came as a Stranger. Bryan is in demand as a presenter throughout North America, and he and his wife were awarded the 2011 prize for the Advancement of Knowledge by the Underground Railroad Free Press. He lives in North Buxton, Ontario.