But most fascinating is her portrait of Washington, D.C., in the years before the Civil War, where North and South came together on territory where slavery was still legal, and where, for the African American residents of the city, the relative freedoms of the North and the terrors of transport to the brutal plantation slavery of the Deep South felt equally close. Escape on the Pearl is Mary Kay Ricks's first book, after years of research on abolitionism and local D.C. history.
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A system of secret transportation known as the Underground Railroad conducted ruanway slaves from the Deep South to freedom in Canada. Abolitionism was the movement, centered in the North, that abolition of slavery even in those states that had practiced it since the founding of the country. The Deep South consists of the core states of the Confederacy, which seceded first and remained loyal to the Democratic Party until 1964.