The Road to Frogmore: Turning Slaves into Citizens by Carolyn P. Schriber

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MWSA Review

Two close Philadelphians bring their homeopathic medicine and educational skills to the sea island plantations of South Carolina in the first half of the 1860's, in an effort to assist abandoned slaves. They join a variety of other missionaries, military, and powerful political players from the Union during war and, ultimately, scrap with each other during this transitional timeline. In"The Road to Frogmore" everyone faces huge cultural and religious biases as well as harsh elements and unforseen diseases. Their abolitionist ideals to assist the slaves into becoming "freedmen" in the new era proves far harder to accomplish than initially perceived. Author Schriber draws from extensive historical reference to bring realities to life. She introduces the slave's "Gullah" language into the story to add to the complexity of the time, just prior to and after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. An extensive read for those interested in this most trying time in American history.

Reviewed by: Hodge Wood, (2014)


Author's Synopsis

What could possibly go wrong? Laura Town and her life-long friend Ellen Murray joined the Port Royal Experiment in 1862 to test their abolitionist ideals against the realities of slaves abandoned by their owners in the Low Country of South Carolina. They hoped to find a place they could call home, as well as an outlet for their talents as schoolteacher and doctor. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until . . .

Until they; experienced the climate—violent storms spawned over the Atlantic, searing heat, tainted by swamp gasses, cockroaches, bedbugs, swarming mosquitoes,and “no-see-ums” that left nasty bites in their wake.

Until they met the slaves themselves—full of fear and resentment of white people caused by centuries of cruelty, slaves who had never seen the outside world, slaves whose superstitions included breath-sucking night hags, evil graybeards living in local trees, and unfree spirits rolling down the roads at night in balls of fire.

Until the dedication of the missionaries found itself tested by lack of food, furniture, medicine, and the bare necessities of life. Until the unity of the abolitionist effort fell apart under the strains of religious differences and unrecognized prejudices. 

And until the combination of battle wounds and a raging smallpox epidemic made death their constant companion. Could these two independent women survive the Civil War and achieve their goal of turning slaves into citizens?