In By Freedom's Light, a historical novel for children and young adults, child psychologist Elizabeth O'Maley gives readers a glimpse of frontier life. From the harshness of a crude farm wrested from a forested wilderness, readers will hear authentic voices of a revival preacher, a country doctor, a famous orator, Quakers, runaway slaves, slave traders, and well-known abolitionists. Here they will experience both the stark realities of a slave society as well as the redeeming acts of a brave few who helped enslaved black people escape to freedom.
To thirteen-year-old Sarah Caldwell, everything in Indiana is dark—the bug-filled cabin, the woods engulfing the farm, and especially the future. She is far from her beloved sister, Rachel, who stayed in North Carolina when their family moved. Their widowed father has married Eliza, a young Quaker schoolteacher, and Sarah has just discovered that Eliza is an abolitionist! Sarah believes she must tell her father about the secret, unlawful activities Eliza’s sewing circle performs at Levi and Catherine Coffin’s home.
Yet when Sarah learns her sister will be visiting Indiana with her husband and baby, happiness and anticipation overcome her concern about Eliza. Rachel’s family soon arrives, bringing Polly, a slave girl about Sarah’s age. Thrown together to do farm chores and look after Rachel’s baby, the two girls, white and black, free and enslaved, slowly develop a friendship. Between Polly’s company and that of her extended family, Sarah’s world brightens.
Meanwhile, Sarah begins to question her beliefs about slavery. When bounty hunters nearly kidnap Polly, Sarah worries for her safety. Tensions mount within the cramped household as it appears that her brother-in-law may trade Polly’s future for his family’s prosperity.
By Freedom's Light is available in hardback for $15.95 and in paperback for $7.95. The book is available from the Indiana Historical Society's History Market.