What was life like for Kentucky slaves who lived so close to the Ohio River that they could see freedom’s shore? What distinctive anxieties plagued their masters? What special opportunities existed for local abolitionists?
Journalist Ann Hagedorn offers an engaging narrative of the life of John Rankin (1793-1886), a Presbyterian minister who lived high atop a hill in Ripley, Ohio, directly across the river from Maysville, Kentucky. Every night, Rankin hung a lantern outside his home so that escaped slaves could find their first stop on the underground railroad to Canada. Rankin adopted abolitionism for theological reasons and is a textbook model of courageous Christian social activism.