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African Americans, both enslaved and free, were vital to the economy of the Eastern Shore of Maryland before the Civil War. Maryland became a slave society in colonial days when tobacco ruled. Some enslaved people, like Anthony Johnson, earned their freedom and became successful farmers. After the Revolutionary War, others were freed by masters disturbed by the contradiction between liberty and slavery. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman ran from masters on the Eastern Shore and devoted their lives to helping other enslaved people with their words and deeds. Jacqueline Simmons Hedberg uses local records, including those of her ancestors, to tell a tale of slave traders and abolitionists, kidnappers and freedmen, cruelty and courage.