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Running with Strangers
by David S Cohen (dscohen@hotmail.com)

Rated: R   Genre: Drama   User Review:

True story depicting the violence, horrors and struggle following the Underground Railroad movement and the perseverence for freedom.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



Two drunken sailors, one white, one black are singing sea
chanty's as they walk down street. A few well dressed
couples, a physical quarrel between a white prostitute and
sailor are standing out front of some of the taverns. Scores
of drunks, sailors and vagrants litter the streets. Slave
owners are with their slaves walking behind them carrying
their goods.
FRANCIS MCINTOSH, a mulatto sailor from Pittsburgh is
lighting a hand rolled cigarette while pitched against a
tavern post. Police officers are walking in his direction.
                       1ST SAILOR
They call me hanging Johnnie,
Hooray! Hooray!
They call me hanging Johnnie,
Hang, boys, hang.

They say I hang for money,
Hooray! Hooray!
But saying so is funny;
Hang, boys, hang.

I'd hang the highway robber,
Hooray! Hooray!
I'd hang the burglar jobber;
Hang, boys, hang.

I'd hang a noted liar,
Hooray! Hooray!
I'd hang a bloated friar;
Hang, boys, hang.
Second sailor approaches well dressed woman. Takes coins out
of pocket, looks at palm then at woman.
                       2ND SAILOR
Evenin' my lady.Tell me, would
this be enough to acquire your
services for the evening?
Woman puts hand over mouth as if she is offended by sailors


                       1ST SAILOR
I don't think you'll be making her
'quaintance anytime soon Johnnie
Both sailors singing, approach Francis.
                       2ND SAILOR
I think you're right Johnnie.Come hang, come haul together,
Hooray! Hooray!
Come hang for finer weather,
Hang, boys, hang.

I'd hang a brutal mother,
Hooray! Hooray!
I'd hang her and no other;
Hang, boys, hang.
                       1ST SAILOR
                       1ST SAILOR
What be with you tonight?
                       2ND SAILOR
Ahhh...He always looks as if he's
fit to be tied.
                       1ST SAILOR
He does doesn't he? You look as if
your mother jus' came down with a
case of French Pox.
Just wallowing in the sights
What sort of mischief you two
weighin' in tonight?
                       2ND SAILOR
If you can keep a secret, my
possum 'n I are looking for some
colored women to pass the time
                       1ST SAILOR
Some negro women.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you meant
but I din't know that was such
foul talk 'round these parts.


                       2ND SAILOR
Mic, you been sailing the river
too long. Don'cha know that St.
Louie is creepin' wit slave
hunters lookin' fer runaways?
                       1ST SAILOR
Well, if I so much cross a one
eyed Jack he'll be tasting the
teeth of my blade.
1ST SAILOR pulls out large knife.
                       2ND SAILOR
Eeeeh ahhh...You tell 'em Johnnie.
I be right behind you.
Would you put that thing away. And
yer no help eggin' him on. Yer
both goin' to make trouble for us
with them Greenhorns comin' this
Two white sheriff deputies approach the trio. MULL looks at
his timepiece and can't seem to pocket the watch right away.
Hey boy.
Uhhhh shit...
Boy, I'm talkin' to you.(Tone gets
louder) D'int you know it's
illegal for a nigger to carry a
                       2ND SAILOR
I thought you could smell them
skunks comin'. These two look like
they jus' bathed in Bark Juice.
HAMMOND raises club and beats 2nd sailor across the head,
then looks at second sailor.
Did I ask you somethin'? I din
think so.
Second sailor falls to the ground unconscious. 1st sailor
drops knife. Francis tries to help beaten shipmate.


Look what we have here, a
half-breed in a sailor suit...
and on his knees yet.
HAMMOND laughs then becomes stern
Where your papers boy?
I have no papers, sir.(Starting to
pant slightly) I was born free.
From Pittsburgh, and my
ship,(pointing behind him) The
Flora is in port for another day
or two.
I don care if you're the governors
bastard son...
Looks at Mull and then around.
Maybe I should inform them bounty
hunters over there that there is a
Negro fugitive in town.
Bounty hunters are seen walking into tavern with a negro
slave chained and shackled.
Grady's tavern, a seedy hangout where dark oak walls are
pasted with merchant ship plaques, wanted posters for
escaped slaves and communal events. A long bar with a mirror
behind it is the focal point of the establishment. Scores of
white men are playing cards. Women are entertaining men.
Three BOUNTY HUNTERS walk into bar. A negroe is chained up
to post outside tavern, apparently in the custody of the
BOUNTY HUNTERS. The tall, overpowering bounty hunter carries
a whip at his side, a pistol in a shoulder holster and a
shotgun across his back. An old Chinese man is carrying a
barrel of wine to the back.
Bar keep! Bring me some of that
ten year Old Orchard you have
laying around back there...


We hear the BARTENDER acknowledge TAIT. TAIT is wrapping his
upper arm from a severe laceration. BINGHAM towers over
chained fugitive and clubs him across the jaw.
How we s'posed to collect on this
here nigger if you keep battin' up
his face...Use yer head!
Camera pans back to MCINTOSH and HAMMOND.
FRANCIS stands up and grabs knife
Sheriff, I beg of you to let me
git my friend to a....
You ain't goin' nowhere, boy. I
jus' might turn you in and collect
myself a hefty reeeeeward.
HAMMOND orders MULL to apprehend MCINTOSH. With knife in
hand and unsure as to his personal safety, MCINTOSH defends
his life. MCINTOSH strikes first at Mull, who dodges the
blade. Turning, McIntosh strikes HAMMOND on the lower chin
and drives the knife into his neck, severing the right
carotid artery. MCINTOSH flees for his life and runs south
on Fourth St. Struggling to aid HAMMOND, MULL receives a
serious wound in his abdomen as he sounds a verbal alarm
before passing out. HAMMOND lies on the ground, gasping for
air, coughing up blood and holding his neck. People are
yelling and running through street after incident with
Help! Sheriff's been stabbed by a
nigger!...He's headed toward
Market St!
A crowd of about fifteen men pursue MCINTOSH and corner him
in a private lot near Fourth and Walnut Streets. The street
is dimly lit by one lamp post.
Raising club in threatening gesture. A man steps toward
                       MAN IN CROWD
Nowhere to run nigger. You're
goin' to git strung up for this


No one's stringin' anyone up yet.
C'mon boy, put the knife down.
                       MAN IN CROWD
Sheriff, the nigger just killed
George! Now, let us handle this as
should be done!
No one's goin' to hurt you boy.
Jus' give me the knife and come
with me and I'll see to that.
I..I di..di..didn't mean to hurt
anyone sheriff. I feared for my
MCINTOSH nervously hands knife over to the SHERIFF who under
guard escorts him to jail house.
                       MAN IN CROWD
This ain't over yet nigger...Don't
pretty him up too much tonight
Sheriff. He ain't goin' to be
sleepin' long.(spits on ground
before walking away with crowd)
MCINTOSH is behind bars, occasionally gripping the bars and
pacing back and forth until he hears crowd gather outside.
Sheriff is lounging in chair with feet up on desk.
Boy, you're in a real load of
      (Reloading shotgun)
Don't think I'll be able to keep
you here long 'specially if that
mob gets to thinking too long.
      (pacing in cell)
Sheriff, you...you've got to get
me out of here.


I don't have to do anything
boy...And don't tell me how to do
my job...You're lucky I saved your
ass out there.
Naw, you don't understand sheriff.
If them white boys get a hold of
me,(pause)they'll hurt me real
bad. Figurin' that my daddy should
have been shot for sleepin' with a
negro woman.
At that moment the window SHATTERS with evidence of a rock
laying in the middle of the floor. SHOUTS are heard outside.
Fifteen men gather around jail house and three enter through
                       MAN IN CROWD (O.S.)
Sheriff!...Step aside and let us
deal with this nigger. We have
plans for him.(Takes another swig
of bottle)
      (Frantic voice)
Sheriff, pl..please, I have a
family back, back home. Don't let
them do to me as they will.
You boys just go on home and leave
this to me ya hear.
Door SMASHES open from large drunken thug. Men with shotguns
stand in doorway ready to storm jail house.
                       MAN IN CROWD
You goin' home early t'night
sheriff...The niggers ours. Git
'em, boys!
Sheriff, I ain't goin down like
this. Do somethin' or give me one
of them knives.
Sheriff eyes knife in a sheath hanging on wall.Two men enter
jail house attempting to get keys from SHERIFF. SHERIFF,
already standing is ready to defend his prisoners safety.


                       MAN IN CROWD
Touch that toothpick Sheriff and
you'll be makin' company with the
Lord jus' the same as the coon
Sheriff raises shotgun and points toward doorway.
I told you boys to stand fast or I
will shoot.
                       2ND MAN IN CROWD
I advise you sheriff to lay that
barrel down unless you want an ear
full of buckshot.
SHERIFF lays shotgun reluctantly on desk. Mob leader enters
jail and proceeds to grab cell keys from around SHERIFF'S
belt. As SHERIFF tries to resist he is met with a pistol
whipping that leaves him useless in his chair. The two men
open the cell door and take hold of MCINTOSH. MCINTOSH
defends himself in a brave-heartedly manner while being
dragged through town. As he shouts profanities, he is hit
over the head with the butt of a rifle.
                       MAN IN CROWD
Tie 'em up over there and make
sure there is plenty of kindlin'
at his feet.
MCINTOSH is taken out to the edge of town where he is
chained to a tree, kindling set around his feet.
Town barber runs over to scene, stops and scolds mob leader.
Doc! I can't allow you to do this.
It ain't Christian like.
                       MAN IN CROWD
You goin' to stop me then Ben? You
gonna to wait for the law to come
in and free this nigger? No sir!
Not in my lifetime.
Let the sheriff handle it then but
to do this...This is just


                       MAN IN CROWD
Someone get him out of here....And
let's get this fire lit!
As the fire is set, MCINTOSH is awakened from his
unconscious state by the heat of the flames quickly
surrounding him. He starts to panic and attempts to set
himself free to no avail. He can see the crowd of guilty
assailants shouting epithets at him through the flames but
the words are drowned out by the sound of wood crackling and
flames roaring. He can see the mob standing guard as
sympathizers weep and pray for him. Their faces could
forever be etched in stone as they helplessly watch in
horror as this atrocity unfolds in front of them. FRANCIS
sees the sailor that he tried to help. As the fire grows the
pain is excruciating. It burns through his abdomen and his
intestines spill out.
                       2ND MAN IN CROWD
How you feelin now nigger?
It hurts...so(cough)so much.
With those last dying words the flames burn off what is left
of MCINTOSH'S face and engulfs the rest of the tree.
The scene ends with the camera panning up the burning tree
and smoke billowing from it. Haunting music fades in as fire
begins to engulf tree, getting louder as camera pans up the
tree and follows smoke. It continues till the end of scene.
Fade out from scene.
WILLIAM HALEY, presently attending the University at Buffalo
and majoring in American History is researching the
Underground Railroad in the schools library. WILLIAM pours
over book after book and is unable to find much documented
information on the secret routes that led to the roads north
and eventually liberating tens of thousands of escaped
slaves. He learns of a descendent of the famed fugitive
slave JOSIAH HENSON, who escaped from slavery and made the
arduous journey north to Canada. This great great
granddaughter of JOSIAH HENSON, now living in Buffalo, N.Y.
agrees to meet with WILLIAM HALEY and give him an account of
her grandfather's life.
WILLIAM awakes in the library after dozing off reading the
novel by William Still. He looks at his watch and notices he
is running late with his meeting with MISS HENSON. He grabs
his things and runs out of the building to his car.


Shit..Sorry...Shit(dropping papers
and books)Shit...Okay, be cool, be
WILLIAM takes deep breath and heads for exit.
WILLIAM pulls up in front of MISS HENSON'S house, looks at
the address on a small piece of paper that he wrote it on
and practically jumps out of his black Jeep Liberty. As he
begins to make his way up the walkway to her home which
appears to be an older Victorian with a Cape Cod feel to it.
He notices an unmistakenly little old black woman kneeling
down to tend to her garden out in front. From out of nowhere
a slightly overweight black kid, no more than twelve years
old steps in front of WILLIAM and attempts to block his
path. Almost as if he was acting as MISS HENSON'S Guardian
Angel and interrogating anyone who might seem out of the
Can't believe I'm late.
Late for what punk?
WILLIAM is bewildered, almost wanting to laugh as the kid
blocks his path to MISS HENSON'S walkway.
                       MISS HENSON
Henry, you leave that nice boy
alone now!
HENRY slowly and reluctantly moves out of WILLIAM'S way.
                       MISS HENSON
I said git Henry!
Yes Miss Henson.
WILLIAM nods and smiles as he walks past HENRY. HENRY gives
WILLIAM a disconcerned look almost as if Henry was telling
him with his eyes that he would be checking up on MISS
HENSON periodically.
                       MISS HENSON
You must be Mr. William.


Um...yes, ma'am. Uh, William Haley
                       MISS HENSON
Help me with this tray, will you
Mr. William?
Uh...sure, of course ma'am.
                       MISS HENSON
I had to have poor little Henry
carry this out for me. My body
just can't seem to muster the
energy I used to have...but my
mind is still sharp as a tack.
I'm sure it is ma'am. Um, Ms.
Henson, about me being late.
                       MISS HENSON
Oh, I don't mind time. Never have.
As long as you're alive, time is
as endless as the Niagara River.
I'm sure you would have been here
sometime before my Orchids
WILLIAM smiles embarassingly as he holds the front door open
for them both and go inside house.
Sets tray on table as they both enter parlor room. Miss
Henson returns to her duties in the kitchen while cutting
her flowers, making lunch and entertaining William.
About the reason I'm here
ma'am...You stated on the phone...
                       MISS HENSON
Please, sit. Can I get you some
tea? And I'm not taking no for an
answer, young man.
Uh sure...Tea would be great.


                       MISS HENSON (O.S.)
So Mr. William, have you a lady
Uh yes, yes I do.
MISS HENSON enters parlor room with tea in hand. WILLIAM
helps her by taking tea and placing it on the table while
assisting her in sitting.
                       MISS HENSON
Life's so much more pleasant when
two people are in love. Milk and
Wouldn't you agree, Mr. William?
I suppose you're right ma'am.
                       MISS HENSON
You know I've always loved tending
to my garden...and couldn't
imagine a day not smelling the
sweetness that just one of those
pedals give off.
I've never had much of an interest
in flowers.
MISS HENSON takes a flower out of vase and holds it in her
                       MISS HENSON
Really. That is a shame. Flowers
have so much life, so
much...mystery...so much power.
Never looked at it that way ma'am.
                       MISS HENSON
      (Examining flower)
It was flowers that aided the
slaves on their most perilous
journeys, you know. They used them
for food, drink, medicine and


                       MISS HENSON
It's said that the ancient mummies
of Egypt were dressed in garlands
to protect them from the evils of
the underworld before entering the
WILLIAM looks at MISS HENSON intrigued yet somewhat confused
as to the nature of the subject. MISS HENSON looks at
WILLIAM and gets up to retrieve a hard bound book that she
places on table.
                       MISS HENSON
In due time Mr. William, you'll
understand. In due time...
I suppose I shall begin as to your
true nature of you being here
Whenever you're ready ma'am.
MISS HENSON opens up the book which can be seen is the true
life autobiography of her great great grandafather the REV.
JOSIAH HENSON. She begins to read aloud from the pages.
                       MISS HENSON
Josiah Henson was born June 15,
Book is now narrated by JOSIAH HENSON and scene will depict
his childhood.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
In Charles County, Maryland, on a
farm belonging to Mr. Francis
Newman, about a mile from Port
Tobacco. My mother, a kind
subservient field slave to Dr.
Josiah McPherson, was often hired
out to Mr. Newman on occasion, to
whom my father belonged. I can
remember an incident that changed
our family forever and one that
made a kind gentle mans heart turn
to stone one day.
FRANCIS NEWMAN, an overseer on a neighboring plantation
walks onto field. It is an excruciating humid day. Young


JOSIAH and his father are busy in the fields tending the
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
Me massa?
Yes nigga, I mean you. You see any
other woman out here? Now, take
this pale to the barn and bring
some water back to feed the herd.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
Yes massa.
JOSIAH'S mother hurriedly takes empty pale and heads for the
barn, NEWMAN follows her. JOSIAH's father stops hoeing
field. JOSIAH'S mother fills pale with water, NEWMAN enters
and begins to look seductively at her. NEWMAN sizes her up.
That Dr. McPherson sure is a lucky
fella to have such a fine house
slave as yourself tending to his
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
Thank you massa.
Put that pale down and come over
here woman. Let me take a good
look at you.
JOSIAH'S mother walks slowly towards NEWMAN, drops pale and
closes eyes as if she knows what his true intentions are.
NEWMAN grabs her and pulls her into him while she winces and
turns her head in disgust. He kisses her neck and starts to
fondle her.
You smells like morning rain, not
like those field niggers do.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
Please massa...


Please nothin. I'm goin to make
you mine for now on.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
NEWMAN is suddenly dropped to the ground with a blow to the
back of the head. JOSIAH'S father is seen standing behind
NEWMAN with a pale in his hand and like a lion waiting for
it's prey, readys himself to finish him off.
                       JOSIAH'S FATHER
      (Pounces on Newman
       and strikes him
I ought..(strike)to kill
you(strike) sir.
      (Spits out blood)
Please...stop. I...won't
                       JOSIAH'S FATHER
Hows am I s'posed to trus' you?
Please, I am a religious man. I
give you my word.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
      (Pulling on her
       husband's arm)
Please Joe, let's git back to the
field 'fore anyone sees. Massa
promises not to say a word.
JOSIAH'S father steps away with reluctance and still facing
NEWMAN backs out of barn.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The promise was kept, but like
most promises of the cowardly and
timid only last as long as danger
resides.(Pause)It wasn't long
before word got around town.
The authorities soon come for JOSIAH'S FATHER.


JOSIAH'S father hides as long as his hunger can hold out. He
eventually gives himself up and on the day of execution it
is one of great jubliation in the town. Slaves from
neighboring plantations are summoned to view the punishment
in light of their moral improvement.
JOSIAH is busy feeding the goats when he hears cries of
agony coming from the far side of the farm. He runs to find
out what all the commotion is about only to see his father
dangling from the post and can only watch as those stripes
fall upon his back one after the other. Everything for a
moment stands still except for his father's pain. It feels
like forever watching in slow motion as his heart grows
colder and his veins fill with ice right in front of
JOSIAH'S eyes. JOSIAH looks around to see the towns people
yelling at his father for what he had done.
                       YOUNG JOSIAH
                       JOSIAH'S FATHER
yous here...
                       TOWN JUSTICE
Hush up, nigga!...Git that boy
otta here!
A few of the townspeople attempt to catch JOSIAH but he is
able to scamper around within the crowd and peer back into
his fathers eyes as the lashes continue.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I counted fifty lashes, which to
any man was more than one could
bear. I was only watching the
beginning to this dreaded
nightmare unfold.
                       TOWN JUSTICE
Oh! I believe he could stand a
whole many more.
TOWN JUSTICE feels pulse.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I watched as another fifty lashes
were administered to my fathers
already lacerated back. I could
hear my father's cries grow weaker
and more fainter until a feeble
groan was the only response from


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
this demoralized and broken man.
Executioner slams JOSIAH'S father's head against post and
with one swift passing of his hidden blade slices off his
Hurrahs from the degraded crowd happen next as his father's
body crumbles to the ground. His lifeless body frozen in the
dirt with the exception of hard tears streaming down his
beaten face. JOSIAH runs to his father's side and puts his
head into his chest.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I briefly remember reminiscing how
my father was so full of
good-humored fun and the ring
leader of all entertaining at the
corn-huskings. His banjo was the
life of the farm, and all night
long at one of our festivities he
would play on it while the other
negroes danced.
JOSIAH's father is sold into slavery. He looks at his kids
with such sorrow that he turns away knowing it's the last
time he'll ever see them.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
But now...this once vibrant and
humble man was reduced to no more
than an angry, sullen lost soul.
No more fear or threats being sold
to the far south, the greatest of
all terrors to any Maryland slave,
mind you, would render him
tractable. So like an old,
worthless goat my father was sold
to a man deep in the southern
Alabama swamplands never for us to
see nor learn what became of him
after that.
                       JOSIAH'S FATHER
You be strong Josiah! Don't end up
like me! You git away from this
place! Follow your heart and never
look back.
Don't leave us poppa!


                       SOUTHERN SLAVE OWNER
      (Pulling chain)
Let's go nigger! Enough chyming.
We haves a long ride.
                       JOSIAH'S FATHER
G'it son. Wipe them eyes and never
cry for me agin, yous hear?
Slave owner orders him onto back of an open wagon with other
negroes. Young JOSIAH waves to his father as his father
looks at him with a blank stare as they ride off. JOSIAH
realizes that he will never see his father again.
MISS HENSON looks up from book and focuses her attention on
So Josiah never saw his father
again? What did his mother do?
                       MISS HENSON
She kept that family together is
what she did cuz that's all she
knew how to do was tend to her
family and field. Can I get you
some milk and cookies Mr. Willam
before I put some stew on?
Uh, ma'am...That really isn't
necessary. I have....
                       MISS HENSON (O.S.)
I hope you like chocolate chip
since that's all I have Mr.
William. I'm always having those
kids in here helping me you see,
so I make sure I keep enough on
Love chocolate chip...This is more
than generous Miss Henson, thank
                       MISS HENSON
You're quite welcome Mr. William.


MISS HENSON lays book on table and proceeds to kitchen which
she returns minutes later with a plate full of chocolate
chip cookies and two glasses. One of them is filled with
milk which is given to WILLIAM, the other is empty and in
front of MISS HENSON.
Are you not having any milk ma'am?
MISS HENSON reaches into apron pocket and pulls out a small
vintage bottle of what appears to be moonshine bourbon. She
proceeds to pour herself a quarter glass.
                       MISS HENSON
Never touch the stuff Mr. William.
WILLIAM glances down at his watch. It is 1:23 p.m. MISS
HENSON downs the drink in one quick gulp, sets the glass
down and resumes with her reading
                       MISS HENSON
Let me git back to my reading Mr.
William. Now, where were we? Oh
yes, found it.
After the sale...
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
of my father, Dr. McPherson never
hired my mother out again. She
retired to his estate and made
sure that all his tidings were in
order. the doctor was far kinder
to his slaves than other
plantation owners generally were,
never allowing them to be struck
by anyone. He was a man with kind
impulses and a passionate heart
and because I was his first negroe
child born on his land, I guess he
and I shared a special place
JOSIAH and his siblings are tending to the sheep, goats and
pigs while JOSIAH'S mother washes the master's clothes. DR.
MCPHERSON is on his porch. He lights his pipe and looks out
over the farm at JOSIAH. Young JOSIAH is in the pig pen
filling up a trough with corn and other grub. A young piglet
looks to befriend him.


                       YOUNG JOSIAH
Git ova here and eeeeat your dinna
so massa can haves a plentiful
meal for us all on Easter.
The mother of the pig bumps JOSIAH as he is bending down to
offer his hand to the young pig and ends up face first in
the mud. The young pig then walks away with it's mother. DR.
MCPHERSON and JOSIAH'S mother laugh.
                       DR. MCPHERSON
      (Puffing pipe)
Josiah looks around covered in mud.
                       DR. MCPHERSON
Come here son!
JOSIAH walks over to DR. MCPHERSON stomping his feet every
few steps and trying to shake off the mud that covers him
                       DR. MCPHERSON
Come on up here son....That's it
right next to me.
DR. MCPHERESON helps JOSIAH clean some of the mud starting
to cake around his eyes and nose. He takes out his
handkerchief and wipes his face.
                       DR. MCPHERSON
You know I was thinking...You and
me, we have some history together,
you know that don't you boy? You
being the first negro born on my
land and all...and you don't even
have a name...At least one that I
can ever remember.
JOSIAH stares at the doctor.
                       DR. MCPHERSON
How would you like to take my
Josiah! And I was thinking we
ought to give you the last name of
a greaaat officer who served in
the last great war.


                       YOUNG JOSIAH
George Washington?
                       DR. MCPHERSON
No, no, no. Henson was his
name...Josiah Henson!
What do you think Josiah? I like
                       YOUNG JOSIAH
                       DR. MCPHERSON
Henson...Good boy Josiah
JOSIAH hops off DR. MCPHERSON'S lap and runs down steps to
his mother as he speaks his new name.
                       YOUNG JOSIAH (O.S.)
Josiah...Henson...Momma, momma. I
have new name...Josiah...Henson
                       DR. MCPHERSON
      (Puffing pipe)
Ha ha ha....ha ha ha
DR. MCPHERSON is riding his horse at night and is
intoxicated. He has trouble sitting in saddle. The doctor
loses balance and falls backward and off horse into a stream
face down. Horse keeps walking.
Two negroes find the doctor's body the next morning and are
seen running back to the house. The next day JOSIAH is taken
out there to the stream by one of the negroes.
                       FIELD SLAVE
There's the place where massa got
drownded at.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
How well I remember having it
pointed out to me in those very
For a few more years we all
resided on the estate and we had
grown to be happy once again. My


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
mother was a woman with deep
piety. She was always very anxious
to touch our hearts with God.
Where she acquired her knowledge
of religion and the Lord himself I
am unable to say but what I do
know is that my mother was my
JOSIAH, his mother and the other siblings are in front of
the Mcpherson estate with possessions from the doctor as
they are bid on and sold off one by one to other purchasers.
One slave owner pats a very pretty young negro girl on the
behind with a gleam in his eye. JOSIAH'S mother is holding
her children tightly. Another slave owner mounts his hourse
with a line of six slave's chained and shackled behind him
like cattle.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
My brothers and sisters were bid
and sold off first. One by one,
while my mother, paralyzed by
grief, held me by the hand. Her
time had come, and she was bought
by a Mr. Isaac Riley of Montgomery
Auctioneer is placing bids on JOSIAH. Potential purchasers
raise their hands and point to JOSIAH. Auctioneer lifts
JOSIAH'S arms up, turns him around to show off physique.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Then it was my turn to be offered
to the assembled crowd. I was
staged in front like a pig,
showcased to it's buyer before
being slaughtered. My mother,
half dilusional with the thought
of parting forever from all her
children, pushed through the
crowd, while the bidding for me
was going on, to the point where
Mr. Riley was standing. She fell
at his side, and clung to his
knees, begging him in a manner
that a mother only could command,
to buy her baby as well as
herself, and spare to her one of
God's children.


JOSIAHS MOTHER is pleading on her knees and crying.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
Please Massa Riley...I beg of you
to allow me my last child.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
(Tone gets louder as narrater
speaks)Can it be that a man can
not only turn a deaf ear, but
deliberately disengage himself
from that of a begging mother.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
Oh, Lord Jesus, how long, how long
shall I suffer this way?
I bought all I'm gonna buy for
JOSIAH is thrown into a dark wooden shack by Robbs handlers.
JOSIAH lands on his feet and with a 360 view JOSIAH sees
approximately thirty men, women and children that are
cramped together in this large one room. Interior of shack
is very hot and humid and the only light we see is the light
peeking through the cracks in the walls. There is a pot
belly stove in a corner. Chains and shackles hang from the
rafters and one negro woman is seen breast feeding her child
while she sadly looks at JOSIAH. The scars on the faces of
some of the men, the broken look the women bare on their
lips and the general look of despair can be seen in their
eyes. The room begins to slowly spin in JOSIAH'S mind. He
then faints to the floor.
JOSIAH is curled up in a ball shivering and perspiring
A conversation between Mr Robb and Mr Riley takes place.
They come to an agreement and shake hands. JOSIAH'S sick
limp body is dragged to his mother arms. JOSIAH flutters his
eyes open. His mother's joy lighten on her face with
streaming tears as she knows her son will be alright.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
It came to be my good fortune that
Mr. Robb met Mr.Riley and offered
to sell me at an agreed upon
price. Although Mr. Riley was
afraid he was buying a dead


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
nigger, I was traded on the
exchange of services between the
two men and once again I was back
in the arms of my best friend on
Earth...My mother...My savior.
                       JOSIAH'S MOTHER
      (clutching bible)
Josiah, no matter what pain you
may feel in yer heart, you takes
this and let the Lord heal yer
Yes, mama.
JOSIAH accepts the bible. JOSIAH attends a religious meeting
where he catches the eye of a young, beautiful house slave
named Charlotte.
JOSIAH grows into a young man.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The natural tendency of slavery is
to convert the master into a
tyrant, and the slave into the
cringing, timid, obeying, and
thieving victim of tyranny. This
was no exception for Master Riley.
He was cruel in his general
deportment and gave his slaves
little time for rest and
relaxation from wearying labor.
JOSIAH carrys buckets of water to the men in the field.
                       FIELD SLAVE
Sie! Git boy! Yous takin' too long
wit dat water.
Forgive me. Massa Riley had me
tendin' to dem pigs.
                       FIELD SLAVE
Boy, I don' care if Massa Riley
had yous carin' for his own self.
Yous need to have dat bucket ready
when we needs it.
                       FIELD SLAVE
You hear me, Sie?


I hear you.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
At the age of fifteen, there were
few who could compete with me in
work or sport. I could run faster,
wrestle better, and jump higher
than anybody around me, and at an
evening gathering in our own or a
neighbor's kitchen, my feet became
absolutely invisible from the rate
at which they moved.
JOSIAH competes with other negroe slaves his size and age.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Fortunate enough as I was, there
were others that suffered, and at
an early age employed my spirits
of adventure for the benefit of my
fellow sufferers.
JOSIAH observes the suffering that many of the women
encounter and it oppresses him with a load of sorrow. JOSIAH
is seen hiding and running through Riley farm and on to the
neighboring plantation to bring food to CHARLOTTE'S door who
he has not yet met.
He...Hello ma'am...The name is Jo
Josiah. I come from Massa Riley's
farm to git you some food. I thut
yous might be hungry.
Well Josiah, your kindness is far
reaching and is equal to your
I hopes dat meant sometin' good.
Oh, it does Josiah. You've created
quite a name for yourself around
Tank you ma'am...Yous don talks
like a field slave.


I work in the house mostly...with
Miss Susan. She taught me to read
and write.
Ohhh, sounds like dere's nutin dat
could take yous away?
Never thought about anything but
Yeah...s'pose yous right. Well,
dis is fo you. Hopes you like
it...If not, I can git yous
sometin else.
No, no. This is fine. Just, you
can get into an awful lot of
trouble going out of your way for
me. I couldn't ask you to take
such a risk.
Yous jus say da word ma'am and
I'll brings you da whole chicken
Please call me Charlotte...and
thank you Josiah for the chicken.
Yous welcome Charlotte.
EXT. - RILEY FARM - DAY - 1811
JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE are secretly married and a traditional
practice of broom sweeping between the couple occurs amongst
family and friends.
CHARLOTTE gives birth to THOMAS.
JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE go to see JOHN MCKENNY give a sermon
and from here JOSIAH'S birth of religion takes shape.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
His name was John McKenny and he
lived but a few miles from Master
Riley's farm. He was a baker by
trade but noted for serving the
Lord in it's most gratuitous
state. He openly displayed his
distaste for slavery and avoided
any employment of slavery in his
business all together. His
reputation was one of pristine
stature, and I know of no one that
would have talked ill of him.
After much persuasion from my
mother and approval from Master
Riley I went to go see this noble
man and hear his words speak
through a tongue that spoke
through a higher being. His words
shot through me like a lightning
bolt and made me see the world in
a different light than I had been
brought up to know. I made my
decision there..that day that I
would eventually serve an entity
higher than who I presently serve.
And Jesus walked through God's
land...and with an outstretched
hand placed his upon the leper and
spoke unto him, "Be made clean, so
no more shall you be an outcast to
your sons and daughters"....A
warm, lifegiving power moved
through Jesus and into the leper.
And as the healing power flowed,
the leper looked with amazement
and joy as his body was healed.
The leprosy immediately left the
stranger and he was made clean
Huh? Yes Charlotte, what is it?


Have you seen the quilts that
point the way towards the North
Yes. I have seen dem. Don' think I
believes in der message though.
They're beautiful anyway no matter
what message they're sending.
Josiah sits in a pew and is transfixed on the words of John
      (Pointing to
And it was the son of God that
brought his people forward and led
them to the promised land to
forever be free in both their
heart and soul.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I would have died that moment with
joy, for this Savior about whom I
was hearing and that "He looks
down in compassion from heaven on
From that day forward, I brought
religion into all matters of my
life, and it was my refuge that
wiped away all tears from my eyes.
Now I can bear all things; nothing
will seem hard after this. I felt
sorry that Massa Riley didn't know
of this higher being, sorry he
should live such a coarse, wicked,
cruel life. Swallowed up in the
beauty of the divine love, I loved
all my people, friend and foe, and
prayed for those that were left
unfortunate that they shall rise
up and become strong in mind and
Charlotte, I know what it is I
needs to do now.


What is it?
I needs to get us outta here and
up to da north to dem free
states...But I needs yer help
      (Concerned tone)
What is it, Sie?
I need to learn how to read an'
write Char. I know I was put here
to do mo'...Mo' than be some white
man's field nigga. I wants to give
yous a life away from all dis. A
place I've heard in song and seen
in dem quilts dos women be makin'.
CHARLOTTE holds JOSIAH's hand and puts next to her cheek,
then kiss's it.
You know I'll always be by your
side Josiah.
JOSIAH stands up smiling and puts bible down. He is glowing
from the enlightment that has converted his soul.
JOSIAH is sitting outside of Gilley's Tavern watching a cock
fight and their handlers bickering while his master RILEY is
drinking himself into a stupor. RILEY is drinking his
whiskey, arguing politics and partaking in a game of Euchre.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
My master's actions were as
predictable as the Harvest moon
and as common as a witch's trick
yet he was still dependent on me
pulling him out of harm's way
however he got himself involved.
BRYCE LITTON is at table playing cards with RILEY and two
other men. LITTON has a female prostitute sitting on one
leg, rubbing her leg while he is shuffling with his cards.
His actions become suspicious to RILEY.


Litton, you keep both them hands
up on the table where my eyes can
see 'em.
You callin me a scoundrel Riley?
Cause if you are...
I don't have to call you
nuthin...your own whore knows yer
a cheat.
With the atagonization of RILEY, LITTON in a fist of rage
and quicker than ones eyes could see pulls knife out and
brings it down onto the table just inches shy of RILEY.
What d'you sey to thet now? One
mo' word otta yous and I goin to
fix yo flint Mr. Riley.
Before LITTON could pull back, RILEY as drunk as he was
could still pull out his pistol faster than LITTON could
react to. He points his pistol at LITTON'S forehead.
Now I wouldn't want to make that
scanty little head of yor's a
peckin board for them cocks out
there. So why don you jest sit yor
pretty little self down...Hmmmm?
As RILEY points pistol and fends off LITTON'S malice
intentions, LITTON out of the corner of his eye sees one of
his cohorts to the left of RILEY, raise a club to RILEY'S
arms and bring it down on them full force. The sudden jerk
downward surprises RILEY and a shot rings out hitting Litton
in the left shoulder. JOSIAH runs in, elbowing his way past
the other men in an effort to defend his master. RILEY in a
courageous effort attempts to defend himself against fists
and chairs.
That's it, Sie! pitch in! show me
fair play.
                       SECOND MAN AT GILLEY'S
What in the sam devil is that
nigga doin 'n here?


Man in Gilley's sees JOSIAH looking to save his master and
sticks the butt of his cane out to trip up JOSIAH.
                       MAN AT GILLEY'S
Go back to the woods, Boy!
Men laugh at the comment.
Her I am, massa...Gots to git you
outta her.
Good to see ya Sie...
C'mon massa...Put yer coat ova yer
head an hold on to me.
JOSIAH tucks RILEY under his arm creating a soft wall
between them while crowd in bar beat and humiliate them on
the way out. LITTON, while holding his injured shoulder and
in his ridiculing of the two is accidently tripped up by
man's cane and has a severe fall. He attributes JOSIAH for
this and seeks vengeance at the first opportunity.
JOSIAH is riding into town and takes the route through
RILEY'S brother's land. He notices BRYCE LITTON in the field
with three other negroes. LITTON and two of the negroes see
JOSIAH riding by.
JOSIAH drops off letters to a distant neighbor and then
heads back to the RILEY farm. On his way back he passes a
farm and sees a white boy no more than ten years old
whipping a few of the adult slaves as an overseer watches.
Thank ya ma'am.
As he approaches the farm that LITTON was overseeing, he
sees LITTON sitting on the fence piercing JOSIAH with his
eyes. The other three negroes are nowhere to be seen.
Git off that horse nigga!
Why must I alight, sir?


To take the bloodiest beatin you
ever had in your life, you damned
black scoundrel.
But what am I to be beatin for...
Not a word otta you nigga! Git
down off that horse,...and take
off that jacket!
As LITTON threatens JOSIAH and orders him to dismount, the
three negroes appear and surround JOSIAH. They approach him
slowly. LITTON grabs horse's bridal.
Take em...All of you at once!
As they brought themselves within JOSIAH'S reach, he defends
himself successively.
LITTON picks up a stick and starts poking JOSIAH in the
chest and face and drawing blood.
Won't you give up! Why won't you
give up! you black son of a bitch!
LITTON drops stick and grabs a fence rail.
LITTON strikes JOSIAH with repeated blows to his back.
JOSIAH falls to the ground. The sound of bone crushing is
amplified in JOSIAH'S ears. Repeated blows rained on JOSIAH.
Both shoulder-blades are broken, and blood gushes copiously
from his mouth.
Didn't you see the damned nigger
strike me?
                       LITTON'S SLAVE
Yez massa.
That's what he gits for strikin a
white man...


An alarm is heard and slaves from MR. RILEY'S farm come
running to JOSIAH'S aid. Litton and the three negroes run
off and JOSIAH is on the ground on his stomach and in a
mangled fashion. He is tended to by another female slave and
CHARLOTTE who are dressing his wounds and wrapping his back.
Char...Charlotte! I..I feel li..ke
my body's bein' taken from me. 'm
I leavin you Ch..arlotte?
CHARLOTTE has JOSIAH on his stomach. She rubs his head.
You're not going anywhere Josiah.
You're a strong devoted
man...You'll be all better soon
enough baby..you'll see...You'll
MISS HENSON and WILLIAM are in the parlor room. The parlor
is of a warm Georgia peach, rich with history of family
and friends photos all through the room. One can feel the
ambiance of family meals long past that once was served in
this room. The history of love sits upon the face of MISS
HENSON. There are two bowls on the table filled with stew.
He was alright though...Wasn't he
                       MISS HENSON
Oh of course Mr. William...Of
course. He was limited in the use
of his arms but Josiah had been
through much worse. Hmmmm,
Hmmmm... People heal from physical
pain but it's the emotional agony
that can drive a person mad. The
important thing was that he was
      (Thumbs through
You know ma'am, I've been meaning
to ask you about these slave
hunters I've run across in my


                       MISS HENSON
Ahhhh yes...Bouny hunters. Wicked
people Mr. William. Just bad bad
      (Sipping stew)
Did Josiah ever run into any of
                       MISS HENSON
My great great granddaddy didn't
encounter them scoundrels until he
and his family escaped from Master
Riley's...but he did talk of a
gang that would...
There is a knock at MISS HENSON'S screen. MISS HENSON stays
in her seat and asks who it is. HENRY who is not only
concerned for MISS HENSON but also trying to be the big shot
around the neigborhood knocks at her front door to check on
                       MISS HENSON
Who is it?
You ok in there Miss Henson? Do
you need any help wit anything.
                       MISS HENSON
I'm doing fine Henry. Thank you.
You sure you ok Miss Henson? I can
come back if...
                       MISS HENSON
You can go now, Henry. I'll be
just fine.
                       MISS HENSON
The chidren 'round here all try to
take care of me...I keep tellin'
them I can take care of myself.
Well they should, you're a
treasure to them, ma'am.


                       MISS HENSON
That boy made me lose my train of
thought...The Patty Cannon
Gang...They say she ran the
Underground Railroad in reverse.
That's right Mr. William, couldn't
get much worse than them folks.
Why was that ma'am?
As MISS HENSON is explaining the horrible atrocities of the
bounty hunters. We are taken back to an incident where a
bounty hunter comes up on a freed slave. The negro man shows
his papers to the hunter only to have it ripped up in front
of him. He is then beaten and hauled away to be sold down
south. We are then briefly taken back to the time when Patty
Cannon and her gang ran wild. We see the gang kidnapping a
family of four and torturing the father in their hideout
which was located at Cannon's son in laws tavern.
                       MISS HENSON
For one thing, most bounty hunters
didn't care that you were free or
not...Those freedom papers was
nuthin' but a hoax if you ask me,
because no bounty hunter ever gave
no mind to no negro especially one
with papers.
But that Patty Cannon, she was as
evil as evil gets, Mr. William.
Think she enjoyed kidnapping and
torturing them people more than
the money she made selling them.
But let me read on about those
bounty hunters you asking about.
JOSIAH looks out over fields at a red orange sunset and
thinking about escaping.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
After our second son was born, I
began to realize what I was
bringing into this world. Allowing
my children to grow up in bondage,
and to endure the life that I had
endured was like an infection
plaguing my thoughts. I would see
to it that the first chance I got,
we would be on that path to this


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
Underground Railroad. But how was
I to know where to go or who to
trust or if following the North
Star was to lead my family and I
to this mythical land over the
River Jordan?(Josiah looks up at
the dusk sky)I knew that many
infinite toils and perils laid
ahead, enough to daunt the bravest
heart; but the fire behind me was
too hot and fierce to let me pause
to consider them. I would put my
faith and trust in the Lord to
guide me and my family.
My time finally came when Master
Riley turned a cold heart. He
would not allow me to buy my
freedom so I made my mind up that
today was the day we were going to
be free. I had previously directed
Charlotte to make me a large
knapsack of tow cloth, large
enough to hold both boys, and
arranged it with strong straps to
go round my shoulders. I then
practiced carrying them night
after night, both to test my own
strength and accustom them to
submit to it. To them it was fine
fun, and to my great joy I found I
could manage them successfully. We
were to leave at once.
Char...as much as I am happy we're
leaving, dis place has settled on
my soul. It will be a sweet
Sie...Of course it will be sweet,
you put so many years on this
My sorrow is mingled with my joy
Char...I hope I am doin' the right
thing by takin' you an' the boys
otta here.


CHARLOTTE helps the boys into the knapsack on JOSIAH'S back
and are then running through Riley farm and down to the
river where they meet up with a fellow slave.
Boys...Shhhhh. Git ready. 'Member
what I tawt yous. We goin fer a
ride on papa's back.
                       RIVERBOAT SLAVE
It will be the end of me if this
is ever found out; but you won't
be brought back alive, Sie, will
Not if I can help it.
                       RIVERBOAT SLAVE
And if they're too many for you,
and you get caught, you'll never
tell my part in this business,
will you, Sie?
Not even if I'm shot through like
a sieve.
                       RIVERBOAT SLAVE
That's all....God help you, Sie.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
In due time we landed on the
Indiana shore. A hearty, grateful
farewell, such as none but
companions in danger can know. I
heard the oars of the skiff as he
travelled back to which we had
escaped from.
There I stood in the darkness, my
dear ones with me, and the all
unknown future laid out before us.
But there was little time for
reflection. Before daylight should
come on, we had to put as many
miles behind us as possible, and
be safely hidden in the woods.
CHARLOTTE is trembling like a leaf and begging and crying to
JOSIAH to turn back. Dogs are heard in the distance.


Sie, maybe we should go back. I
don't like this...Before it's too
late and master finds us gone,
I am not goin back dere. I'd
radder takes my chances and die
tryin' then spend anoder day
servin Massa Riley.
Are you willin to risk the lives
of your children, Josiah?
Dat is not fair, Charlotte...but
if I haves to, I will take the
boys and come backs for you.
Oh Josiah, I'm just scared.
I know Char...I'm scared too but
we jus have to be careful...Once
we gets to Ohio, they'll be no
more of this torturous life.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
For four nights we pressed
steadily on, keeping to the road
during the night, hiding whenever
a horseman was heard, and during
the day burying ourselves in the
woods. Our provisions were rapidly
giving out. Two days before
reaching Cincinnati they were
utterly exhausted. All night long
the children cried with hunger,
and my poor wife loaded me with
reproaches for bringing them into
such misery. It was a bitter thing
to hear them cry, and God knows I
needed encouragement myself. My
limbs were weary, and my back and
shoulders raw with the burden I
carried. A fearful dread of
detection hung over me, and I
would start out my sleep in
terror, my heart beating against
my ribs, expecting to find the


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
dogs and slave-hunters after me.
JOSIAH dreams of bounty hunters and dogs looming over them
as they sleep. TAIT, the leader of the hunters is a husky,
tall and very strong man with dark features, beard and
piercing eyes.
Git up nigga! You done fucked up
good now, boy...
In his dream, JOSIAH sees TAIT hovering over one of his sons
with his head in his hands and snaps his neck.
JOSIAH is sweating and panting heavily.
Sie, you alright?...Oh Sie, it was
just a dream...Shhhh...It's
So...so real.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Before we left, I was given
information that would lead me to
the first tell tale signs of this
Underground Railroad that until
now was just a myth. We were to
make our way to Ripley, Ohio where
I was to come upon a house and a
man by the name of Reverend John
Rankin. There, I would learn the
extent of my journey as I made my
way north to Buffalo and into
Canada. But my childrens cries
were growing more concerning now
and had to risk travelling by day
to get some food. I left for but a
brief time to find food and came
upon a house where I was met by a
furious barking dog only to be


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
quieted by his master following
'Cuse me, sir...Could I bodder
yous to sell me a little bread and
meat? My family and I are...
                       MAN WITH DOG
I have nothin for niggers.
A woman with a dog comes out of house.
                       WOMAN WITH DOG
How can you treat any human being
so? If a dog was hungry I would
give him something to eat. We have
children, and who knows but they
may some day need the help of a
                       MAN WITH DOG
She may take care o' niggers, but
I won't.
                       WOMAN WITH DOG
      (Holding on to dog)
You come inside, dear. Some people
just neve' see past their own
JOSIAH and the woman enter the house. JOSIAH stands with his
hat in front of him.
Woman loads a plate of venison and bread into JOSIAH's
handkerchief. Leaves her a quarter dollar on the table but
is refused. She then loads JOSIAH with an additional
quantity of venison. He can't say a word but feel the hot
tears run down his face.
                       WOMAN WITH DOG
God bless you child.
She proceeds to kiss JOSIAHS forehead.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I hurried back to my starving
children and wife and watched in
delight as they filled themselves
up with the meat and bread. Awhile
later, the children became very
thirsty from the heavily salted
meat, so off I was again breaking
the bushes to keep my path, to
find water.
JOSIAH comes upon a stream and attempts to fill his hat with
water. JOSIAH trys to carry some of the water in his hat but
it leaks. Finally, JOSIAH takes off both shoes, rinses them
out, and fills them with water. Josiah then carrys it to his
family. They drink it with great delight.
JOSIAH and his family make their way through the woods and
on the trail that leads to the REVEREND JOHN RANKIN. There
are gunshots heard riccocheting off trees around them and
voices yelling in their direction. Children are crying.
                       BINGHAM (O.S.)
Ovah there!
Hurry Charlotte....Those dogs
catch up to us...We all gonners.
                       STOOT (O.S.)
I see them Tait! They're headed
out of the woods.
As JOSIAH makes his way out of the woods he comes across a
long brick path leading up to a house on a small hill. A
small candle is in the window. JOSIAH'S pace picks up.
JOSIAH and his family run up the path to the front door.
Knocks on door.
'Cuse me...Name is Josiah...My
family here wit me too. Please, we
come a long ways...
      (Door opens)
from Marylan...
The door opens and an elderly woman with two children
clinging to her dress are standing in the doorway. She pulls
JOSIAH and his family inside.


                       MRS. RANKIN
Hurry now...'Fore they see you
all. That's better now...Come in,
come in. You children must be
Yes ma'am...I want to th....
Rev. Rankin comes into room with shotgun in hand.
                       MRS. RANKIN
Shhhh now...No need to thank
us...We just doin God's work...Int
that right children?
                       RANKIN DAUGHTER
Yes momma...
Young boy is looking out window.
                       RANKIN'S SON
Momma...There men coming out of
the woods...with guns momma!
                       MRS. RANKIN
                       REV. RANKIN
      (Loading shotgun)
I know...
The three bounty hunters walk up the path to REV. RANKIN'S
house. They knock on the door, guns cocked.
                       REV. RANKIN
Put them in the basement momma...
We have company(cocking shotgun)
TAIT motions for BINGHAM to knock on door. TAIT and STOOT
stand off to the side trying to look into window.
Evenin...Knows your in there...Saw
you through the window.
Door opens suddenly.
                       REV. RANKIN
Can I help you fellas? It's late
and I'm a man of God in the middle
of prayer with my youngen's so if


                       REV. RANKIN (cont'd)
you don't mind me gettin back to
my readin.
This will only take a minute,
father. We...
You see any niggas come through
here tonight, father? You wouldn't
be harboring some fugitives would
you now?
                       REV. RANKIN
Been quiet here tonight. Besides
this is the Lord's land...and all
are welcome....You three though
have outlived yours.
Let's go! Evenin father, apologize
fer the inconvenience.
Door closes.
                       REV. RANKIN
Momma, bring em up here.
JOSIAH and his family come up from basement following MRS.
Tank you, sir.
                       REV. RANKIN
Oh, forgit all that. Just eat and
rest up. You have a long journey
JOSIAH and his family lay down together by the fireplace on
pillow and blankets. MRS. RANKIN blows out candles.
                       MRS. RANKIN
G'night children.
Night ma'am.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We laid down to sleep that night
and oh, how sweet it was. The
thought of never having to return
to the fields again excited me for
a moment but felt that somehow I
could use what I learned....
I couldn't fall to sleep right
away,(dogs barking)those damn dogs
were like a constant reminder that
this was somehow all a dream and I
would wake up and find myself
behind a plough again. I closed my
eyes and worried myself to sleep
that night.)
MRS. RANKIN rolls out dough and proceeds to make tack bread
for JOSIAH to take with him.
                       MRS. RANKIN
Rise and shine everybody!
REV. RANKIN enters house a few minutes later with one of his
sons. He is holding a dead rabbit by the ears and his
shotgun in the other hand.
                       REV. RANKIN
Hope you like rabbit, son? The
misses here can really cook up a
hearty stew.
Please Sir, Josiah's the
name....and yes ma'am, my massa's
house would sometimes cook up
REV. RANKIN and JOSIAH eat at table.
Sir, I wants to tank you agin.
Don' knows how I will repay you.
                       REV. RANKIN
Son, you just make it to
Canada...that's how you can thank
me...Keep the railroad alive and
help your fellow man.That's how
you repay me, son.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The good reverend and his wife had
taken us in. They had put their
good safety in jeopardy to aid us
and keep us safe along this road
of safehouses and stationmasters.
The reverend's wife had made
enough provisions for us to last a
good many days and they told me of
a place in Sandusky, Ohio to catch
the ferry to Buffalo. Once in
Buffalo I was to find a man that
went by the name of Uncle Dug. The
reverend wouldn't tell me anymore.
He said that it was too dangerous
to know anything more past the
next stop and so he and his wife
bid us farewell and I promised him
that I would do good once I found
my freedom.
JOSIAH and his family leave the RANKIN house and steathily
moving through woods and onto main road at night.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We had travelled for days when I
began to lose track of the amount
of time we had been gone from the
reverend's home. Our rations were
becoming dreadfully low and I
could feel my energy slip away
from me with every step.
The wolves were howling around us,
and though too cowardly to
approach, their noise terrified my
poor wife and children.
(Mumbling to her self)
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Nothing remained to us that day
but a hard tack bread and some
dried beef,too little, indeed, to
satisfy our cravings, but enough
to afflict us with intolerable
I divided most of what we had
amongst us and continued that day
into the wilderness. A painful day
it was to us. The road was rough,
the underbrush tore at our clothes


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
and exhausted our strength. Trees
that had been blown down had
blocked our way now. We were faint
with hunger, and no prospect of
relief opened up before us. We
spoke little, but steadily
struggled along.
CHARLOTTE falls to the ground and is lifeless for the
                       JOSIAH'S SON
Poppa, poppa...momma fall.
JOSIAH turns around and sees CHARLOTTE laying on ground. He
runs to her side and slaps her face softly.
Charlotte...wake, Char, wake!
CHARLOTTE opens her eyes slightly.
      (Pinches off bread)
Lay dis under yer tongue,
baby...Dere you go...chew it
JOSIAH stays at CHARLOTTE'S side until she is strong enough
to move on again. As they walk, JOSIAH sees a figure ahead
in the distance.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We had not gone far, when we
discerned some people approaching
us. We were instantly on the
alert, as we could hardly expect
them to be friends. The advance of
a few paces showed me they were
Indians, with packs on their
shoulders, and they were so near
that if they were hostile it would
be useless to try to escape.
I walked along boldly till we came
up on them. They were bent down
with their burdens, and had not
raised their eyes till now. So
when they did so, and saw me
coming towards them, they looked
at me in a frightened sort of way
for a moment, and then, setting up
a peculiar howling call, turned


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
around, and ran as fast as they
Indian calls heard and then get fainter.
JOSIAH and his family walk down path, looking into the woods
and spotting Indians popping their heads out from behind
Sie...I don't like this.
Jus keeps walkin and...and smile.
You sure 'bout this Josiah?
JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE smile and attempt to disguise their
fear behind the smile. The Indians look at them oddly
because of the strange gesture. Two Indians turn to each
other and smile.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We came upon their wigwam without
incident, and approached a very
fine, stately Indian with his arms
folded, waiting for us to draw
nearer. He was apparently the
chief, and saluted us in a civil
manner. When he discovered that we
meant no harm he spoke to his
young men, who were scattered
about, and made them come out and
give up their foolish fears.
Curiosity seemed to prevail. Each
one wanted to touch the children,
who were as shy as partridges. As
the children eased away from their
touch, and uttered a little cry of
alarm, the Indian would jump back
too, as if he thought they would
bite him.
JOSIAH and his family interact with the Seneca tribe which
can be estimated at about thirty people. Some of the Indian
children run around the village with JOSIAH'S children.
CHARLOTTE washes their clothes down by a river with two


Indian women and JOSIAH assists three of the tribesmen with
skinning and tanning hides. The CHIEF stays by their side
throughout their brief stay with the exception of their
sleeping quarters. They are invited to a tribal war dance
where members challenge each other in a story told by
CHIEF WAHANAPU stands and addresses his audience. Motions to
drummers to stop and looks to JOSIAH.
                       CHIEF WAHANAPU
Stop!....Come...Join me and my
Me? No...no...I, I don know how...
Go on Sie, you'll insult him...
JOSIAH stands up and walks into circle. CHIEF takes him by
the hand and begins to show him a slow ceremonial dance.
CHIEF motions for drums to begin. Hurrahs from CHARLOTTE and
the kids are heard and howling and animal calls are heard
from the tribe members. JOSIAH is then shown to their wigwam
where he and his family bed down for the night.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The next day we bid farewell to
our new found friends and Chief
Wahanapu ordered three of his
young men to travel with us and
see that we made it to the lake in
safety. They then parted from us
with as much kindness as possible.
About a mile from the lake I hid
my wife and children in the
bushes, and pushed forward. I was
attracted by a house on the left,
between which a small coasting
vessel and a number of men were
passing with great activity.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Hollo there, man! you want to
Yes sir!


                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Come along, come along. I'll give
you a shilling an hour. Must get
off with this wind.
JOSIAH takes bags of corn and emptying it into the hold.
JOSIAH gets in line next to a colored sailor which he starts
a conversation with.
'S'cuse me...D'ya know how far is
it to Canada?
Black sailor gives JOSIAH a peculiar look and within a
minute Josiah could see that he knew why he was inquiring to
go to Canada.
                       COLORED SAILOR
Want to go to Canada? Come along
with us, then. Our captain's a
fine fellow. We're going to
Buffalo? How far is Canada from
                       COLORED SAILOR
Don't you know, man? Just across
the river.
JOSIAH tells the colored man why is running to Canada.
                       COLORED SAILOR
I'll speak to the captain for
Colored sailor parts from JOSIAH and talking to Cap't.
CAP'T. CONNELLY walks over to JOSIAH.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
The Doctor says you want to go to
Yes, sir.
CAP'T CONNELLY lights cigar.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Well, why not go with me! Doc says
you've got a family.


Yes, sir.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Where you laid up at?
'Bout a mile back.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
How long have you been here?
No time...
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Come, my good fellow, tell us all
about it. You're running away,
ain't you?
      (Bows head)
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
How long will it take you to get
Be here in half an hour, sir.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Well, go along and get them
Yes, sir!
JOSIAH starts to run off when CAP'T CONNELLY yells to him.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Stop! You go on getting the grain
in. When we get off, I'll lay to
over opposite that island, and
send a boat back. There's a lot of
regular nigger-catchers in the
town below, and they might suspect
if you brought your party out of
the bush by daylight.


JOSIAH finishes hauling grain and is let out on shore where
he runs off to get CHARLOTTE and the children. When they
arrive back to the boat, they board vessel in somewhat of a
fearful state of mind.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Our long habits of concealment and
anxiety had rendered Charlotte
suspicious of every one, and it
took some time for her fears to be
We headed out on the water and the
anticipation that followed my
heart was overwhelming. The wind
plunged into her sails as though
innoculated with the common
feeling...the water seethed and
hissed passed her sides. I was
praising God in my soul, wanting
to know if I was ever going to
wake up from this nightmare my
mind was playing on me or was I
for real going to taste what it
was like to be free.
Cheers fill the docks of Buffalo as the Cap't brings the
boat to shore..
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Coom up on deck, and clop your
wings and craw like a rooster.
You're a free nigger as sure as
the devil.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The cap't. took me aside and
explained to me that we would have
to spend some time in Buffalo,
being that bounty hunters were
aware of the actions of certain
boat captains and were always on
the lookout for vessels crossing
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
You see those trees, they grow on
free soil, and as soon as your
feet touch that you're a mon. I
want to see you go and be a
freeman. I'm poor myself, and have
nothing to give you. I only sail
the boat for wages, but I'll see
you across...Know anybody in town


                       CAP'T. CONNELLY (cont'd)
where you can rest up for the
No, sir...but I wuz told 'bouts a
gentleman by da name of Uncle Dug
dat could help.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Ahhh yes...Dug's Dive. Know it
well but not sure if you're
dressed for that kind of a place.
Some nights, don think even the
devil would step foot in there.
Am I dressed likes an old coot?
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
No how...I reckon you look likes a
runaway nigger.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I didn't mind spending my last
nights in Buffalo. It was unlike
any city I had visited or came
upon at that time. The Erie Canal
was only a few years old and
already it had transformed Buffalo
from a small frontier town to a
world class port city. Captain
Connelly was a regular in Buffalo
and frequented the Canal St.
district for it's many saloons but
more so for it's bordellos and the
ladies they employed.
CONNELLY allows JOSIAH to use one of his boatsin's jackets
since they didn't want to draw attention to themselves. They
are seen heading down Canal St.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Josiah..The Canal St. district is
as bad as the mining towns in the
heyday of their glory. You always
see gangs of sailors spoiling for
a fight. Bounty hunters are
bountiful here simply because they
know that Buffalo is the last stop
before slaves can reach Canada.


                       CAP'T. CONNELLY (cont'd)
They hang around the Union Docks
sometimes pulling colored sailors
from their ship duties who had
never spent one day in slavery
only to find themselves being
carted down south and sold into
JOSIAH eyes the sailors and prostitutes on corners. Children
begging for coins, fights in streets and Christies Minstrels
walking up and down street playing his music with a monkey
on his shoulder.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Canal St has it's share of
nicknames, mind you. To some it's
simply the Flats; to others it's
The Hooks or Five Points or the
Canal St. Badlands, but to all...
with it's "dens of pollution" it's
simply the nostrils of hell.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
See dem right thar...That's Old
Mother Cary's. Good woman, she is.
Need anything, she's the woman to
CONNELLY and JOSIAH make their way down the street to the
commercial slip area where they find themselves in front of
Dug's Dive.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Grit yer teeth and saddle up yer
courage boy...Life as you know it
ends here.
As CONNELLY opens door, a stench hits the two men nearly
knocking them over. Loud music is heard coming from an old
black Bechstein piano. Women drinking at the bar with their
male counterparts can be heard under the music. WILLIAM
DOUGLASS can be seen at one of the tables playing poker.
Piano man, WILLIAM DOUGLASS, six prostitutes and fifteen
sailors and vagrants litter Dug's Dive.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Uncle Dug...You fargin black
scoundrel you.


                       UNCLE DUG
Connelly...you good fer nuttin
white piece of shit. Thut they
banned you from the Great Lakes
for good.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Haaaa! Andrew Jackson couldn't
keep me from sailing them lakes.
How 'r you my friend?
                       UNCLE DUG
Ehhh...The Hooks are starting to
git real bad but luckily for
me...I have my friends.
JOSIAH sees a black haired man playing a slightly out of
tune piano.
                       PIANO MAN
All in the dawn the fleet was
The streamers waving to the wind,
When Black-eyed Susan came on
Oh where shall I my true love
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell
me true,
If my sweet William, if my sweet
Sails among your crew?
                       DRUNKEN SAILOR
Hey piano mon.I don want to hear
dat shit...Yer depressin me mind.
                       PIANO MAN
Okay...How's 'bout dis lovely?
He was a saucy sailor boy
Who'd come from afar,
To ask a maid to be the bride
Of a poor Jack tar.

The maiden, a poor fisher girl,
Stood close by his side;
With scornful look she answered
I'll not be your bride.

You're mad to think I'd marry you
Too ragged you are;
Begone, you saucy sailor boy,


                       PIANO MAN (cont'd)
Begone you Jack tar.

I've money in my pocket, love,
And bright gold in store;
These clothes of mine are all in
But coin can buy more.

Though black my hands my gold is
So I'll sail afar,
A fairer maid than you, I ween,
Will wed this Jack tar.

Stay! Stay! you saucy sailor boy,
Do not sail afar;
I love you and will marry you,
You silly Jack tar.

'Twas but to tease I answered so,
I thought you could guess
That when a maiden answers no
She always means yes.

Begone you pretty fisher girl,
Too artful are you;
So spake the saucy sailor boy,
Gone was her Jack tar.
Piano man and drunken sailors sing, DOUGLASS, CONNELLY and
JOSIAH are at bar.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Dug...I need yer help tonight. I
want you to meet a good friend of
mine...Josiah, this here is
William Douglas.
                       UNCLE DUG
But my friends call me Uncle Dug.
JOSIAH extends his hand.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
You think you can hold him up here
fer the night?
As the three men are talking, a large tall drunk colored man
approaches them and starts harassing JOSIAH. He is dressed
as a bounty hunter. He carries a whip at his side and a
pistol in his front pants.


You not from 'round here...'r you
boy?...you know how I can tell?
I'll tell you how.Those 'r the
shoes of a field nigga, and the
last time I looked there wasn't a
whole lot of farming 'round these
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
There's no need fer all this.
Shut up! You a runaway nigga boy?
Both CONNELLY and DOUGLASS look at JOSIAH knowing that his
cover could be blown.
You really tink I would show my
face in dis shit hole, ready to
let hell break loose all over your
ass if I wuz a runaway nigga?
Bounty hunter takes one step closer as DOUGLASS steps in
front and backs them both off.
You ain't no runaway nigga. No
slave is that dumb.
                       UNCLE DUG
Ok, genimen.Hey, next drink is on
da house, what d'ya say?
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Whoooa...Great job, mate. I thut
you wuz a gonner fer a minute.
Them slave hunters are...
'Scuse me, Captain, but did you
say slave hunter?
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Sure as the sun comin up every
mornin, that's what I said.
But he's a colored man...Int he?
CONNELLY lights up cigar.


                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Josiah...Them hunters come in all
colors...Unfortunately the only
common thread they share is the
color green.
I gis yer right.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
C'mon, let's git you otta sight
'fore 'r luck runs out.
Connelly looks over at Douglas who motions for them to make
their way into a hidden basement to house Josiah and his
family for the night. The rest of the night is without
incident. The next morning CAP'T. CONNELLY is there to greet
JOSIAH and to ready them for their trip across the Niagara
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
You ready fer this Josiah? Ready
to make yer mark on new soil?
Today's da day we goin to be
free...and I couldn't axe the Lord
fer a more perfect day.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Well, we're settled then. Let's
git a move on then, shall we?
                       UNCLE DUG
Josiah...Here you children take
this. I had one of my girls stir
sometin up fer yer family.
UNCLE DUG hands JOSIAH a small sack with some dried beef and
                       UNCLE DUG
Now, you know you jus ova the
river so I expect you to pay me a
visit now an' then.
I couldn't axe fer a betta reason
to visit Buffalo...Tank ya and God
be wit you Mr. William.


Thank you Mr. Douglas.
                       UNCLE DUG
Pleasure's been all mine child.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Lit's go! 'Fore the river current
gits too mighty...Dug...I'll be
seeing ya soon...I owe ya one.
                       UNCLE DUG
You don owe me shit...'sides, you
still owe me from the las time I
saved yer ass.
CONNELLY and JOSIAH make their way down through the Black
Rock area and to the water where a ferry was waiting for
them. CONNELLY motions to ferryman.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Here Green! What will you take
this man and his family over
for...he's got no money?
Three shillings.
CONNELLY takes some shillings out of his pocket and gives it
to ferryman. He then turns to JOSIAH.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Listen, Josiah...Dug and I wanted
you to have this.
I can't 'cept that...yous have
done so much fer me alriddy.
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
There's no discussion here...Take
it...You have a second chance at a
new life with yer family and all,
Josiah. Use it well and God bless.
I don know what to say....but tank
                       CAP'T. CONNELLY
Ahhh...Don get all teary eyed on
me...Jus be a good fella, won't


Yes, I'll use my freedom well...
I'll give my soul to God.
Ferry pulls away from pier and heads across the Niagara
River. CONNELLY waves his hat from shore.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Never shall I forget the spirit in
which Cap't. Connelly spoke. I
felt streams of emotion running
down in electric courses from head
to foot as we embarked on a course
that would transform my years in
bondage into a lifetime of freedom
in a matter of minutes.
      (Long pause)
It was the 28th of October, 1830,
when my feet first touched the
Canada shore.
The ferry reaches the Canadian shore and JOSIAH steps off,
throwing himself on to the ground, rolling in the sand, and
seizing handfuls of it and kissing them. He then dances
round till, in the eyes of several who were present, pass
him off for a madman.
                       COL. WARREN
He's some crazy fellow, he is.
O, no, master! don't you know? I'm
                       COL. WARREN
Well, I never knew freedom make a
man roll in the sand in such a
JOSIAH and his family attempt to locate a place to bed down
for the day.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
There wasn't anytime to lose. Yes,
we were on free soil but on a
foreign one at that and I didn't
feel comfortable out in the open
where we were vulnerable to being
spotted and possibly returned to
the South. I was a stranger in a
strange land, and had to look


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
about me, at once, for refuge and
JOSIAH leads his family to an old barn where they rest for
the night. Their tired wearied bodies know all too well this
feeling. They go to sleep that night anticipating their
recent arrival in Canada as just a dream.
JOSIAH is in town talking to anyone that may offer him work.
He is informed of a man, who owns a large farm and several
small tenements on it. JOSIAH inquires about the man, and
soon finds him. JOSIAH bargains with him for employment.
      (Removing hat)
Yes sir, I wuz wundrin if you has
a house for me and my family to
live in?
                       MR. HIBBARD
Aint much of a house I can speak
of but if you want it, it's yours.
MR. HIBBARD takes JOSIAH to an old two story shanty. He
shows him the lower level where it appears pigs had broken
into and made a home. MR. HIBBARD leaves and JOSIAH starts
to clean his new home by using a mop and hot water. He is
able to get the floor into a tolerable condition and only
then does he rest. He is exhausted by the end of the day and
brings his family to the house the next day.
It aint much but...it's home.
CHARLOTTE laughs and covers mouth with hand.
You don likes it, Charlotte?
Oh Sie, I'm so proud of you...It's
perfect. Better than a log cabin
with an earth-floor at least.
Well, I must say that a man can
bear almos' anyting, even the
scorn of a woman...But as long as
you're my queen and I earns us an


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
honest back breakin', than that's
all anybody can ask from a man and
everything else is like...what's
the word?...oh yes, like gravy.
JOSIAH asks MR. HIBBARD for some straw to make some beds.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I was able to beg some straw from
Mr. Hibbard and confining it by
logs in the corners of the room, I
made beds of it three feet thick,
upon which we reposed luxuriously
after our long ordeal.
JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE enter a church, praying and afterwards
talking with other congregants. Approximately twenty five
men and women are present. An old friend from Maryland sees
JOSIAH in church and from across the pews JOSIAH
acknowledges his presence. After the service AMOS meets up
with JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE outside as they exit the church.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We had been there for three years
when one of my Maryland friends
arrived in the area and upon
hearing of me, inquired if I was
preaching now. He managed to
spread the reputation that I had
acquired elsewhere in regards to
my gifts on the pulpit.
My, oh my...Looks at you. Yous a
man on tops of da world.
Amos, dear. How are you?
Yous lookin' as young and butiful
as da las' time I'ze saw yous.
The two men shake hands


Still tryin to smooth talk yer way
in dis world...huh? Good to see
some things never change.
I would have thut yous be giving
dis sermon now.
Well, I've noticed that you've
created quite an image 'round here
for me already.
Sie...people's look up to yous
'round here. Dey know you haves
the gift of the tongue.
Ahhhh...Don try to....
AMOS grabs JOSIAH'S hand
Da Lord speaks tru yer tongue,
Sie...Dey may not be slaves no mo'
but dey haves no pride
eder...Awaken dem and show dem
dat's dere's mo' to life den bein'
AMOS shakes JOSIAH'S hand and wishes him well before
departing his company.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
At that very moment I began to
understand what my purpose was. I
had labored all my life under the
hospice of the Lord but
overshadowed by the crack of a
Char? You know I been thinkin'
bout what Amos was saying earlier
Sie? What is it?


Maybe it is time that I do
something. Stop hiding my neck in
the sand and pretending that my
brothers and sisters aren't
falling under that whip everyday.
Just because my body is free
doesn't mean that my heart is.
But why you Sie?
Cuz it's my callin' and you knew
that I was a stubborn old crusader
when you met me.
Oh lord, bless this family.
JOSIAH conducts meetings of the most intelligent and
successful socialites of his class. Twelve people are
present. Black and white alike. Meetings are held at a MR.
RISELY'S house that JOSIAH ends up making his aquaintance.
                       MR. RISELY
So Josiah...What do you propose we
do then given the current
condition that you have so brought
to our attention?
I propose we invest our earnings
in land and build us a community
where we can colonize, and raise
our own crops, eat our own bread,
and be, in short, be our own
Assemblers thoroughly agree with JOSIAH'S proposal.
And who is to take up this task of
finding this land?
Well, if everyone present agrees,
I will take upon myself to head up
this task and act in good faith
for all of our interests.


JOSIAH shakes hands with all that are present at meeting and
then at home kissing his wife and children goodbye in search
for land where they will build their land.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I set out accordingly in the
autumn of 1834, and travelled on
foot all over the extensive region
between lakes Ontario, Erie, and
Huron. When I came to the
territory east of Lake St. Clair
and Detroit River, I was strongly
impressed with its fertility, its
convenience, and, indeed, its
superiority, for our purposes, to
any other spot I had seen. I
determined this should be the
place and reported so, on my
return, to my future companions.
JOSIAH and assemblers pick up and move to Dawn, Ontario in
1842 where over the course of six years they employ hundreds
of escaped slaves.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
After I had tasted the blessings
of freedom, my mind reverted to
those whom I knew were groaning in
captivity, and I at once proceeded
to take measures to free as many
as I could.
I soon found myself attending a
large meeting in Ft. Erie, at
which a great number of colored
people were present. In the course
of my preaching I tried to impress
upon them the importance of
bringing our brothers and sisters
out of bondage.
JOSIAH preaches and tries to convince his congregants that
it is their duty to help in bringing about the freedom of
other slaves from the United States. There approximately are
twenty five people present.
My dear brothers and sisters, the
time has come for all of us to
recognize our good fortune, and to
join hands in helping our American
friends bring forth our brethren


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
that still lie in bondage.
Mumbling from crowd.
We must not forget that we too
were once slaves and that the
trail has been set for us to walk
on, and guide others that are not
yet fortunate as us.
                       FT ERIE MAN
Wit what means of help are yous
Most of us came here one way or
another on the Underground
Railroad. Had it not been for the
Quakers and our Indian brothers we
might still be under the crack of
a whip.
                       FT ERIE MAN 2
Hell...I spent half of my adult
life down south...an' my pappy
spent his whole life there...Heck,
Sie, I ain't goin back.
More mumbling and agreeance from crowd.
No one's askin you to go
back...Heck, I'm not askin anyone
to go back but we can't be doin'
this alone! There are friends and
stations in place to help along
the way but we can't be selfish
'bout our own good fortune. I
believe we were meant to be free
for a reason....So that enough of
our people can make it to this
Promised Land and prosper such as
we have.
Look here...I know the white man
just as much as all of you know
him...and the way to create
disharmony in the South is by
unsettlin' the money well.


Confusion pours over the crowd but are intent on listening
                       FT ERIE MAN 2
What choo gettin' at, Sie?
Every las' of us at one point was
worth some dollar amount to our
masters. When one of us escapes,
that's less money that they're
makin or losin...no matter how
yous look at it. The more of us
that escape, the more chaotic it
gets there...and soon sometin's
goin to give.
Well, I think I've said my
bit...jus know that there are more
of us still there waitin for
someone to point the way on the
As people get up to leave and talk amongst themselves, a
colored gentleman approaches JOSIAH.
'Cuse me Reveren, I'm...
I'm no Reverend, sir.
Oh you a reverend alright, just
don't know it yet. Anyways, you
sure talks like one.
How may I help you?
I never till now looked back from
where I come....I lef' all that I
love backs in Ohio....But you have
brought dis cause home to my
This cause is what I have devoted
my life to. Have you the precise
location as to their where 'bouts?


I do....an' I would likes to offer
yous my lan', my horse and
pigs...as a token of gratitude.
I couldn't possibly take all that
you own.
Please, reveren...Yous bringin'
back sometin to me dat's much more
valueable than my horse and pigs.
JAMES shakes JOSIAH'S hand and departs. JOSIAH goes home
where he packs some things. His oldest son TOM is in bed and
calls to JOSIAH to read him a book.
JOSIAH walks into TOM'S bedroom and sits down next to him on
his bed.
Father, you want me to read to
Most definitely, Thomas.
Where shall I read, father?
Anywhere, my son.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I answered, for I knew not how to
direct him in his request.
Bless the Lord, O my soul and all
that is within me, bless his holy
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
As Tom read this beautiful
outpouring of gratitude, which I
now first heard, my heart melted
within me....The whole wave of my
life played over again in my head


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
as I remembered the dangers and
afflictions from which the Lord
had delivered me, and compared my
present condition with what it had
Father, who was David?
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
It was a question I was utterly
unable to answer. I had never
heard of David, but could not bear
to acknowledge my ignorance to my
own child.
He was a man of God, my son.
I suppose so, but I want to know
something more about him. Where
did he live? What did he do?
I do not know, my son.
Why, father, can't you read?
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
This was worse than the question
before, and, if I had any pride
left in me at the moment, it had
vanished without me recognizing
I cannot.
Why not?
Because I never had an opportunity
to learn, nor anybody to teach
me...and now, I am too old, and
have not enough time. I must work
all day, or you would not have
enough to eat. I do listen to the
way people talk and have bettered
my speech but do long to be able


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
to read and write.
Then you might do it at night,
But still there is nobody to teach
me. I can't afford to pay anybody
for it, and, of course, no one can
do it for nothing.
Why, father, I'll teach you. I can
do it, I know. And then you'll
know so much more that you can
talk better, and preach better.
TOM reads to JOSIAH. Thomas falls asleep and JOSIAH tucks
his son in and closes his door behind him. He resumes
packing his things when CHARLOTTE walks in. She inquires
about his intentions and an arguement insues.
Why you doing this, Sie?
Doin' what, Char?
This!...This. Why do you always
have to feel that it's you that
God is picking on? That you owe
him by risking your own life and
possibly widowing your wife and
children. Can't that man go down
and get his own damn family? It's
bad enough that you had to be the
one to set out and find this
place, but I knew you'd be coming
back. Now, I'm not so sure I'll
ever see you again.
Don't talk that way....This is jus
somethin I have to do.
No it's not, Josiah. Your kids
need you...I need you.


Look at me Charlotte! Look at me.
The kids need somethin to believe
in. What would they think if they
knew that their father escaped
from the South and preached his
heart out 'bout those still left
in bondage but didn't have the
courage to ever do anything about
it. Don't you think I know that
when I leave this home , I walk
alone!...I know all this but I
also know that I'm here to make a
difference in this struggle.
I need to do this, Charlotte. I
couldn't live with myself if I
didn't at least try.I love you...I'll be back sooner
than you can count them chickens.
JOSIAH heads outside.
Sie, wait! I love you too. Just be
careful...ok? You and I still have
our life to live out together.
JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE embrace each other in what they
possibly feel could be the their last time together.
So if I may, ma'am. Josiah left
his family to go down south and
attempt to free a man's family he
never even met?
Why would he take such a risk for
someone he just met?
                       MISS HENSON
'Cause Mr. William no one else was
going to do it, and Josiah felt an
obligation to God that this was
his duty in life in return for his


MISS HENSON reaches for the small end table that separated
the two and picked up one of her Egyptian white Lotus
So did he succeed in finding this
man's family?
                       MISS HENSON
He did in deed, but because his
mother and father were so far
advanced in age, his brothers and
sisters felt the need to stay.
So he travelled all that way for
                       MISS HENSON
No siree, Mr. William...Josiah
wouldn' travel four hundred miles
on foot, and come back empty
handed, you see...He set out for
Kentucky having heard that there
was a large party ready to attempt
their escape, but they needed a
leader to direct their
movements....Before he left, one
of the sisters of Mr. Lightfoot
presented Josiah with an Egyptian
White Lotus.(holding up flower and
cradling it in her hand)much like
this one. She gave it to him to
guide him back and for future
travels. My grandfather kept it
all these years and passed it down
till now.
Was he able to find this other
group of slaves?
                       MISS HENSON
Oh Lord, yes, thirty in all. Had
to go thru Cincinatty and Toledo
to come all the way home...but
they din't lose a soul.
Mr. William, can I get you
something more to drink?


Oh no, thank you, ma'am I'm
fine....Did that James Lightfoot
guy ever see his family again?
                       MISS HENSON
Well, Josiah being the person that
he was, felt so bad that he wasnt
able to bring them back, that
about a year later he went back
for them again.
No! What about his wife and kids?
Didn't it have a toll on their
                       MISS HENSON
Everything had a toll on his
marriage, but one thing is...he
loved them very much...and they
knew it.
Anyhoo, this trip wasnt so
uneventful as the first one was.
What happened?
                       MISS HENSON
I'll explain...Josiah started his
long journey to Kentucky again and
on his way he came upon a strange
occurance in the sky that
reassured Josiah of God's
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
This great phenomenon that I
witnessed seemed to support my
belief that no other entity could
create something so beautiful as
the almighty Lord himself. I
studied his artistic masterpiece
and watched as the heavens seemed
broken up into streaks of light
and falling stars. I passed the
dark and lonely nights reading my
mother's bible that she gave me as
a kid under the light of the moon.


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
I reached Lancaster, Ohio, about
three o'clock in the morning, and
found the village aroused, bells
ringing, and the people terrified
as they ran through the streets.
JOSIAH sees a man running towards him.
                       OHIO MAN
The day of judgement has come!
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I thought it was probably so but
felt that I was in the right
business, and walked on through
the village, leaving the terrified
people behind.
JOSIAH enters the town of Portsmouth, Ohio where the place
is frequented by a great number of Kentuckians and bounty
hunters looking for runaway slaves.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
Upon hearing that this place was
frequented by bounty hunters and
kidnappers alike, I devised a
strategy that would at least give
me a slight advantage over my
To keep from being detected and throwing the bounty hunters
off his tail slightly, JOSIAH procures some dried leaves,
puts them into a cloth and bounds it all around his face,
reaching nearly to his eyes. He pretends to be so seriously
affected in his head and teeth that he is unable to speak.
JOSIAH is then seen in a tavern drinking and trying to throw
off the bounty hunters with his affliction. A group of three
men approach JOSIAH and begin to accost him.
                       KIDNAPPER 1
Lookie, lookie, what we have
here...Hey, Martin, forget that
whore an' takes a look at this


                       KIDNAPPER 2
What happen to you, boy? I asked
you a question nigger. Yous
Martin! Can't you see the man
can't speak or aint yous too dumb
too see that too?
      (Looking at Josiah)
Can you write, boy?
JOSIAH nods that he can write and bartender gives him
something to write with. JOSIAH begins to write down and
hands it to the BARTENDER who hands it to the kidnappers.
                       KIDNAPPER 2
I can't read.
Well no shit! You really are dumb,
aint yous?
It says he has a rare case of
Asian Cow Pox and he doesn't want
to risk you fellas lives in
catching this dreadful disease
that has taken half his
family...Very dreadful he says.
JOSIAH eyes the bartender in a thankful manner.
                       KIDNAPPER 1
What the hell is he doin in here
Whiskey takes away the pain, he
Josiah continues writing.
He says the whiskey tends to keep
the worms in his stomach at
bay...guess it makes them drunk
an' all.
KIDNAPPER 2 backs up fast and falls over chair.


                       KIDNAPPER 2
Come on...let's git. I aint
catching no Asian Pox or whatever
the damn hell you got.
JOSIAH gestures a sigh of relief. BARTENDER walks away,
fills another shot glass full of whiskey and gives it to
JOSIAH. He then places his hand on top of JOSIAH'S hand.
Asian Cow Pox, huh? Good luck to
you, son.
JOSIAH takes a ferry to Maysville, Kentucky and upon
reaching the docks in Maysville happens upon JEFFERSON
Josiah? Is dat you? Lord, Jesus...
Jefferson? How are you my friend?
Where the others?
On the farm...Come, I'll take you
JOSIAH assists JEFFERSON and his family prepare for leaving.
We shoulda went wit yous las'
time...My 'pologies if dis has
cause you much heartache.
oh, never mind that. Lets jus' git
you all otta here safely.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We chose Saturday to make our
escape simply because there would
be no labor the next day and since
the rest of the Lightfoot family
was allowed to visit with family
it gave us a chance to have every
body that was making the trip in
one place. Before leaving, JOSIAH


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
sends a letter off to be delivered
CHARLOTTE receives a letter from JOSIAH and her and her four
children gather around to read it.
Come children...To my loving
Charlotte and my beautiful
children. As expected, the trip
through the station has been
difficult since there has been
disturbing news that my own people
have sold others like me and my
guests out to the slave catchers.
But, not to worry. I have reached
my destination and will be back on
the road soon. Give the children
my love fore I will be home soon
and back in your arms.
JOSIAH and the other escaping slaves make their way down
river toward Cincinatti.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We made our way down river by
seizing a skiff and made it within
seven miles of Cincinatti before
our craft sprung a leak and nearly
drowned us all.
Making our way toward Cincinatti
didn't come without it's share of
obstacles. Looking at the Miami
River gave us no clues as to
whether this impedement was
passable or not.
Boys, let us go up the river and
try again.
A cow comes out of the woods and goes down to the water.
JOSIAH motions to everyone to be silent and watch.


Let us go and see what she is all
about. It may be that she will
tell us some news.
                       YOUNG KID
Oh, dat cow can't talk.
No, but she may be able to show us
the way.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
It wasn't sooner than I spoke that
the cow started into the water and
as I motioned us to approach her
within a rod or two, she made her
way straight across without
JOSIAH and company reach mid-point of the river when the
youngest of the Lightfoots is stricken by an epileptic
seizure. He appears to be a frail boy but one that was
strong at heart. He is no more than twelve years old.
The Lord works in mysterious ways.
He sent that cow to show us where
to cross the river!
JEFFERSON dropps to his knees.
Josiah looks back and runs to boy.
What happened?
He jus' fell an' iz like da devil
gots inside of him or sometin.
Move them rocks...let's git him to
shallow water 'fore he drowns.
JOSIAH and JEFFERSON move the young boy as best they can to
shallow water where JOSIAH drops down and holds the young
boy till the seizure subsides.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We made our way through Cincinatti
and continued on when the young
boy fell alarmingly ill.
Unable to walk, we were compelled
to proceed with him on our backs
and did so until this mode of
conveying him became exceedingly
time consuming and apparent to the
rest of us that we were risking
being caught if we continued with
this mode of travel.
                       YOUNG KID
Josiah...I need to rest. Please,
put me down! It hurts too much.
JOSIAH lays boy on the ground and trys to comfort him.
                       YOUNG KID
Jefferson, I'm sorry...but please
leave me to die alone.
You goin' to makes it. boy!
                       YOUNG KID
No, I aint...and if I was, I be
jus' holdin' yous all up...
Please, at leas' I know I dint die
as a slave.
JEFFERSON walks away obviously broken up about having to
leave one of his brothers.
You're a brave boy....God will see
to it that you're taken care of.
JOSIAH makes the sign of the cross on the young kids
forehead and then lays him down in a secluded area as to not
be seen by any predators or slave hunters.
                       YOUNG KID
Josiah...Thank you.
      (Shaking head)
Don't thank me, son...Jus' have
yourself a safe journey and may
peace accompany you.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We left that place where the Angel
of Death was slowly inching its
way in and left him so as to put
his mind at ease and let his soul
be swept away to finally be with
his one true master.
JOSIAH and the others walk along a road where they see a man
ahead in the distance. The man informs them to be cautious
due to the many bounty hunters that travel in and out of
JOSIAH and the others rest in a back room of the tavern when
JOSIAH has a premonition of bounty hunters riding towards
the tavern. He suddenly awakes as this premonition overtakes
him with anxiety and anticipation.
Jefferson!...Come! We must go
Josiah...why mus' we git alreedy?
Don't ask me why!...You'll see
soon enough.
JOSIAH directs everyone to leave the tavern immediately and
just as they cross the other side of the road they could
hear the tramping of horses.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We crept beneath a pile of bushes
which were lying close at hand and
which permitted us a full view of
the road. I noticed the trio of
men coming our way who had stopped
just prior of the tavern.
I know dese men...
Yeah, I figured so.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
As the men approached the door and
demanded someones presence, the
stranger we rode in with answered
quickly and was immediately
interrogated as to our
whereabouts. My heart was beating
through my chest and I could feel
all of us transfixed on what was
playing out in front of us as our
hearts beat faster in unison.
Yous seen any niggas 'round here?
Yes, sir, I believe I have.
How many?
Oh, I say...maybe 'bouts six.
Know wheres they be headed?
Oh, I believe they be headed north
towads Buffalo...Yeah, reckon
that's what they be doin.
JOSIAH watches as the three slave hunters quickly reign
their horses and ride off in search of their prey. JOSIAH
and the others meet up with a Quaker who happens to be
riding into Jamestown, N.Y. JOSIAH asks if he would be able
to carry them into New York.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
We arrived in Jamestown a few days
after our ordeal in Ohio and knew
that the bounty hunters would
quickly be on to us.
We had to get to Buffalo. At least
there I knew we would be safe and
in the company of friends.
JOSIAH goes to Dugs Dive and attempts to make contact with


Dug!...Are you there?
Yeah...Whatta yous want?
Lookin' for Uncle Dug, ma'am...
He aint here.
Know where I can find him?
Try down by the docks...That's
where he was headed las'.
Thank you, ma'am.
JOSIAH runs off in the direction of the docks. He sees
WILLIAM DOUGLAS and approaches him.
Hoy, Dug!
WILLIAM sees JOSIAH and immediately lowers his head and
walks over to JOSIAH in a hastened pace.
                       UNCLE DUG
What chu doin', boy?
JOSIAH is startled by the tone.
                       UNCLE DUG
Don' yous know yer wanted from
here to Kingdom Come?
Haven' had time to read a paper,
                       UNCLE DUG
Aint no paper to read, Sie...It's
a reward fo' yer capture.
Should I not be showin' my face
'round here?


                       UNCLE DUG
Nah...don' worry 'bout it too
much, yous wit me. I know too many
people in dese parts anyway...Dey
sey you travellin' wit runaways.
                       UNCLE DUG
Ahhhh...Come! Help me wit dese,
will ya?
WILLIAM gives JOSIAH an empty sack to wrap around his head
to disguise his appearance and a sack of potatoes to carry
back to Dug's Dive.
                       UNCLE DUG
Hmmm,...you look betta dan some of
da whores I have.
Just as WILLIAM and JOSIAH are walking, a group of five
colored men run past them and stop at the foot of the dock
as a boat is mooring.
What's goin' on there?
                       UNCLE DUG
Rumor has it dat a negroe from
Detroit has been selling
infomation to dem bountys on da
where 'bouts of escaped slaves
here in da area.
JOSIAH looks on intently.
                       UNCLE DUG
An' parently dey waitin' fo' him.
The group of colored men wait by the dock acting as if they
are taking part of routine ship duties until the traitor
steps into view and walks down the plank onto the dock.
WILLIAM, JOSIAH and other bystanders watch as the man is
grabbed and pulled off to one side and beat severely with a
                       UNCLE DUG
Come, let's git yer party.
Since da las' time I seen yous,
Sie, dere's been a church built
here dat has been helping us in
keeping our brothers and sisters


Is that where we're goin?
                       UNCLE DUG
Dat's where yous goin'...
JOSIAH and the other escaped slaves get settled in at the
Michigan St. Baptist Church.
Thank you, Reverend.
                       REVEREND MUNROE
Sleep well, my son.
JOSIAH and the others are suddenly awakened the next morning
                       REVEREND MUNROE
Josiah! Quick, we must git
everyone otta here...Them bounty
hunters are on their way over
Over here? What we goin' to do
now, Sie?
Where we goin' to go, Reverend? If
we go now we'll risk bein'
captured in the streets.
I have an idea...Do you have any
women's clothes here and some
                       REVEREND MUNROE
I presume some of the female
congregants may have.
Good...I'm goin' to need them.
The REVEREND runs up the stairs and gathers some of the
female congregants. The male runaway slaves are then dressed
up in women's clothes and some makeup is applied including
                       REVEREND MUNROE
Exactly what do we do with these?


I'll show y'all...Ladies?
REVEREND WILLIAM MUNROE gives his sermon while his
congregants sit motionless in their pews.
                       REVEREND MUNROE
For God is my witness, whom I
serve in my spirit in the gospel
of his Son, that without ceasing I
make a commemoration of you.
Always in my prayers making
There is a sudden loud knock at the church doors.
Congregation looks back at doors opening. Three men dressed
in clothing only a bounty hunter could wear enter church.
You people listen good...We're
lookin' fer some runaway
slaves...Now, we knows they
here...Aint gonna do yous no good
to hide them...They wanted, you
hear...Southern property...
JOSIAH stands behind pews disguised as a congregant as the
bounty hunters enter church. JOSIAH approaches TAIT.
Would you gentlemen like to join
us for the Reverend's conclusion
of the Epistle of Saint Paul?
TAIT slaps book out of JOSIAH's hands.
Want you to know, Priest...I'll be
watchin' yous...an' that goes fer
the res' of yous niggers.
The bounty hunters exit.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
After that mornings sermon and run
in with the slave hunters, we
quickly gathered our things,
thanked the Reverend and made our
way to the Niagara River.
We were able to secure ourselves a


                       JOSIAH (cont'd)
small ferryboat and a captain
since greed shows no preference to
skin color.
Soon the white sail of our ferry
was laying to the wind, and we
were gliding along on our way,
with the land of liberty in full
view...Words cannot describe the
feelings experienced by my
companions as they neared the
shore. Their bosoms were swelling
with inexpressible joy as they
mounted the seats of the boat,
ready and eager to spring forward,
that they might touch the soil of
so many that had landed before
them. And when they reached the
shore, they danced and wept for
joy, and kissed the earth on which
they first stepped. No longer a
SLAVE but the FREE.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I had petitioned the committee to
purchase two hundred acres of fine
rich land covered with a heavy
growth of black walnut and
northern white oak on the Sydenham
JOSIAH walks through the dense beautiful Canadian forest.
His mind wanders as he imagines what his efforts could
unleash if he acts upon his intuitive mind.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I had often wondered why such a
beautiful forest of noble trees
were often cut down and burned to
the ground. I was afflicted at
seeing such waste and longed to
devise some means of converting
this abundant natural wealth into
money, so as to improve the
condition of our people.
JOSIAH leaves his home and visits a lumber mill in New York.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I left my home on a expedition
through New York and New England
where I found mills using such
wood as those found in Canada,
commanding huge sums of money for
their appearance and quality.
On my return home and discussing
my finds with the committee, we
agreed to raise the money needed
to build our own saw mill. An
excellent manual-labor school was
also to be established where many
children would be educated at.
Saw mill is built and in full production by 1850. JOSIAH
charters a vessel and makes his way up the St. Lawrence
River. He stops at a Custom House to pay his duties.
As JOSIAH speaks, we see Millard Fillmore(Thirteenth
President)sign into law the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The Fugitive Slave Act had just
been signed by President Millard
Fillmore making it quite an
offense to harbor or render aid to
a fugitive slave, yet thousands of
whites, Indians and free men laid
their livlihood on the line to aid
the anti-slavery movement.
JOSIAH leaves home again and heads to London, England with
his cargo of lumber. He enters the Customs House when he
realizes that anyone having any business deals with him
could be guilty on the grounds of the Fugitive Slave Act. He
decides to have a little fun with it the Canadian Customs
You perhaps are making yourself
liable to trouble for having
dealings with a fugitive slave.
                       CUSTOM HOUSE OFFICER
Are you a fugitive slave, Sir?


Yes, Sir...And perhaps you had
better not have any dealings with
                       CUSTOM HOUSE OFFICER
I have nothing to do with
that...There is your bill,
Sir....You have acted like a man,
and I deal with you as a man. Good
JOSIAH pays the officer for the bill.
Good day to you, Sir.
He is greeted and given a warm reception by some very
distinguished men.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The success of the mill afforded
me the opportunity to showcase
some of the best specimens of
black walnut boards our farm would
produce, and to exhibit them in
the great World's Industrial
Exhibition currently in session in
London, England.
Upon arriving in England with my
cargo, and being furnished with
very complimentary letters of
introduction to men of
distinction. I was immediately
given a most cordial reception and
introduced to the very best
society in all of the Kingdom.
                       HON. ABBOT LAWRENCE
To the Reverend Josiah Henson who
has brought distinction, integrity
and honor to the people of Canada.
                       REV. JOHN ROLFE
Here, here.
They all raise their glasses in honor of JOSIAH.


Sometimes I think to myself could
all of this be true? Could all of
this actually be happening at this
very moment. I can't be sure of it
from time to time, but somehow it
feels all too real to be a dream.
How can a man...A fugitive slave
at that, endure countless beatings
by his overseers, have his family
ripped from him like a ball of
cotton and endless accounts of
pursuit by bounty hunters and
visious dogs ready to tear you
limb from limb, have the
opportunity to join my fellow man
in England and have a toast made
in his honor by the most noble of
all men in all of England. White
men at that.(Laughter throughout
room)but to stand here and thank
you all for the path that you have
set me upon and the road you have
lit for not only my dreams but all
of our dreams to be attained,
gratitude just doesn't seem to be
enough...but thank you, with true
sincerity I toast to you all.
With those last words his fellow colleagues stand up and
cheer him excitedly.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
It may have seem like a cruel
trick at one time that the Lord
would play on my mind...but I knew
this God all too well. He wouldn't
do such a thing...He couldn't cast
such a curse. I deserve
this(smiles), my family deserves
this...Heck, my people deserve
JOSIAH accepts the toast and enjoys the evening with his new
found friends. The next day JOSIAH and the superintendent of
the American Department argue over where the lumber should
be exhibited.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I had brought over to England some
of the finest specimens of black
walnut lumber that Canada has ever
produced. On their arrival, I had
planed and perfectly polished, in
French style, so that they
actually shone like a mirror.
Like my years before, life can
never be simple and this time was
no different. Since my lumber was
brought over on an American
ship,the superintendent of the
American Department insisted that
my lumber be exhibited in the
American Department. To this I
Excuse me, Sir.If I may say, I am
a citizen of Canada and the lumber
that you have directed to be
placed in the American Department
is of Canadian origin which makes
it Canadian property. Therefore, I
am insisting that my boards be
moved to the Canadian Department.
It cannot be done.
Why is that, Sir?
      (Pointing around)
All these things are under my
control. You can exhibit what
belongs to you if you please, but
not a single thing here must be
moved an inch without my consent.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
I was beside myself. All of the
hard work my brothers and I put
into these boards and the money we
raised to show case the very best
that Canada had to offer would now
be hindered in her finest hour for
all the world to see.


JOSIAH thinks and ponders his dilema.
JOSIAH begins to mumble loudly to himself.
If this Yankee wants to retain my
furniture, the world shall know
who it belongs to.
JOSIAH hires a painter who paints in large white letters the
origin of the boards. RIDDLE is seen the next morning
finding JOSIAH atop of his boards and to his astonishment
Look here, Sir...What, under
heaven, have you got up there?
O, that is only a little
information to let the people know
who I am.
But don't you know better than
that? Do you suppose I am going to
have that insult up there?
Not sure, Sir. I jus' a lowly
negroe slave, don' know what yous
expec from me.
Seven English gentlemen begin to gather around, chuckling
with half-suppressed delight, to see the wrath of the
Well, Sir...Do you suppose I am
going to bring that stuff across
the Atlantic for nothing?
I have never asked you to bring it
for nothing. I am ready to pay
you, and have been from the
Well, Sir, you may take it away,
and carry it where you please.


                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
The next day I had the boards
removed to their proper place at
no expense to me, and no bill was
ever presented against me for
carrying the lumber across the
JOSIAH tends to the boards when the QUEEN OF ENGLAND,
VICTORIA preceded by her guide, and attended by her cortége
stop to view JOSIAH and his boards.
                       QUEEN VICTORIA
      (Said to cortege)
Is he indeed a fugitive slave?
He is indeed, and that is his
JOSIAH uncovers his head and salutes her as respectfully as
he can. The Queen is pleased with his perfect grace and
returns his salutation.
                       QUEEN VICTORIA
Such beautiful work.
      (Smiling at Josiah)
Indeed it is.
JOSIAH walks around the Fair. He finds no other black
exhibitors but himself and Negroes being exhibited.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
As immense and spectacular as the
World's Fair was, I was somewhat
disenchanted to find that among
all the exhibitors from every
nation in Europe, Asia, America,
and the Isles of the Sea, there
was not a single black man but
myself. There were Negroes there
from Africa, brought to be
exhibited, but no exhibitors but
JOSIAH is invited to meet with the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
He immediately enters into conversation with him, explaining
the condition of his people, and the plans he has. He
expresses the strongest interest in JOSIAH.


At what university, Sir, did you
I graduated, your grace at the
University of Adversity.
The University of
Adversity...Where is that?
It was my lot, your grace, to be
born a slave, and to pass my
boyhood and all the former part of
my life as a slave. I never
entered a school, never read the
Bible in my youth, and received
all of my training under the most
adverse circumstances. This is
what I meant by graduating from
the University of Adversity.
I understand you, Sir...But is it
possible that you are not a
I am not.
But I should never have suspected
that you were not a liberally
educated man. I have heard many
Negroes talk, but have never seen
one that could use such language
as you. Will you tell me, Sir, how
you learned our language?
JOSIAH explains to the ARCHBISHOP about his early life and
that it had always been his custom to observe well spoken
speakers. He goes on to explain that it was his mother that
gave him his first bible but it was his son Thomas that
taught him how to read from it.
Truly astonishing, Sir...And is it
possible that you were brought up
ignorant of religion? How did you
attain to the knowledge of Christ?


Well, even though my mother was a
poor ignorant slave she taught me
how to say the Lord's prayer.
And how were you led to a better
knowledge of the Saviour?
By hearing the preachin' of the
What text was that?
He, by the grace of God, tasted
death for every man.
      (Shedding tears)
A beautiful text was that.
JOSIAH looks at clock.
Your grace, I have taken up too
much of your time.
My, how the time slips away. It
has been a deep pleasure and honor
to be able to meet someone of your
stature and integrity...May the
Lord be with you.
The ARCHBISHOP shakes JOSIAH'S hands affectionately and
places five gold sovereigns in his hands and departs.
Thank you, your grace.
JOSIAH is advised of a dinner party that is to be held in a
spacious hall in his honor.


                       HALL ATTENDEES
Be present at our table, Lord, be
here and everywhere adored. These
creatures bless, and grant that we
may feast in Paradise with thee!
JOSIAH stands up and raises glass. Everyone else follows
First to England. Honor to the
brave, freedom to the Slave,
success to British emancipation.
God bless the Queen.
Cheers and laughter follow the reading of this toast.
May she have a long life, and a
happy death. May she reign in
righteousness, and rule in
love!Oh, and to her illustrious
consort, Prince Albert: May he
have peace at home, pleasure
abroad, love his Queen, and serve
the Lord.
The evening finishes and the next morning JOSIAH receives
some disturbing news. He reads the urgent message.
Father...Forgive me for this ounce
of disturbing news on your most
celebrated tour in England but
mother has fallen quite ill and
has expressed to us her desire for
your presence here. Please make
haste fore the doctor's cannot
tell how long she may have.

Your ever loving son,
JOSIAH returns to Canada by way of ship and receives a
quarto bound volume containing a full description of all the
objects presented at the exhibition, the names of officers
of all the committees, juries, exhibitors, prizes, etc.
Among others he finds his own name recorded, and there is in
addition awarded to him a bronze medal, a beautiful picture
of the Queen and royal family. He is seen studying medal and


JOSIAH approaches his home and is met by his four daughters
who are seen begging JOSIAH not to go in until they prepare
their mother for his return. JOSIAH follows behind them.
They are met at the door by JOSIAH'S son, TOM.
Mother...Father is here. The Lord
has brought him back to you.
Jo..siah. You've come back.
Shhh...Don't speak Charlotte. Of
course I came back. Nothing could
keep me from this happy moment of
seeing you.
Oh, Sie....But perhaps I have done
wrong in sending for your return
cause of all your successes and
JOSIAH'S children comfort each other and cry.
Don't be silly, Charlotte. I am
more than satisfied with my work
and truly thankful to the Lord for
granting us this interview, no
matter what the pecuniary
JOSIAH and CHARLOTTE talk and laugh about their life
together until CHARLOTTE'S strength permits her to fall
asleep. JOSIAH keeps watch over her during the weeks that
follow and when her final hours approach, JOSIAH calls for
their children.
CHARLOTTE kisses each of one of her children and then
extends her arm to JOSIAH who takes her arm and holds it
affectionately. As she holds JOSIAH and stares at
him,(FLASHBACK) we are taken back to the first time JOSIAH
and CHARLOTTE meet when JOSIAH sneaks food to her on her
masters plantation in the torrential rain.
One by one Charlotte blessed the children and then laid a
heavenly kiss on each one of their foreheads. JOSIAH'S


entire life flashed before him with CHARLOTTE by his side.
He knew now that it was only moments away until she would
leave his side forever until the day would come where she
would wait by Heavens Gates and invite him in.
Rest in peace, dear wife. If I am
faithful to the end, as thou were,
we shall long meet again in that
world where the sorrows of life
shall not be remembered or brought
into mind.
JOSIAH sits down at a desk and ponders his thoughts about
his past and writes down his future life story.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
It is difficult to explain one's
life such as mine since there has
been an adequate amount of both
suffering and joy. The horrors I
have met have been burned into my
mind forever yet without them I
feel as if I wouldn't be the man I
am today.
JOSIAH writes and writes and then finally concludes his
accounts. He lays his writing utensil down.
                       JOSIAH (V.O.)
My task is done, if what I have
written shall inspire a deeper
interest in my race, and shall
lead to corresponding activity in
their behalf I shall feel amply
JOSIAH closes the manuscript that he has written on, and
kisses the front of it as if sealing it with the words of a
million of his people. He then lays it down on his desk.
Camera pans to the title of the manuscript which reads on
STORY OF HIS OWN LIFE, and then slips it into a large parcel
to be carried to Boston for publishing. He addresses the
parcel to two lawyers that he had befriended. The address
reads; Samuel Eliot, Esq and Amos Lawrence, Esq. 11 Boylston
St. Boston, Mass. Scene finishes with JOSIAH placing parcel
on desk, opening his front door and walking through it to
the outside.


MISS HENSON closes the book and lays it on the table. Her
mind weary from the day's proceedings. She rubs her
Ma'am, can I get you something for
your head?
                       MISS HENSON
No...no, Mr William, I'll be fine.
Don't you worry yourself about me.
I'm an old lady and little old
ladies are supposed to have these
I have never heard such an amazing
account of one man's life like
                       MISS HENSON
Mr. William, did you bring a car?
Yes, of course.
                       MISS HENSON
Do you mind if we go for a ride
then? I want to show you something
that I think will add a finishing
touch to your research.
Sure. Let me help you.
WILLIAM helps MISS HENSON into the car and drive to
Broderick Park where they and other interested parties
arrive for the annual crossing over the Niagara River just
like thousands of escaped slaves did over one hundred years
                       TOUR DIRECTOR
And most of the sixty thousand
reported slaves that escaped to
Canada ended their struggle for
freedom at this very spot. Now, if
there aren't any questions we will
reenact what thousands of others
did before us by crossing over the
mighty Niagara.


                       TOUR DIRECTOR (cont'd)
Watch your step when getting in,
folks. I want you all to envision
the height of excitement that
these people felt as they felt
freedom getting closer and closer.
The group crosses over the Niagara River and converge on a
slave cemetery in the town of Ft. Erie in Ontario, Canada
where they hold a small memorial service for the millions of
slaves that were unable to free themselves from bondage.
Camera pans away from group and to the Niagara River. It
then pans up the river till it reaches Niagara Falls. Scene
ends with haunting music playing.
END TEXT; JOSIAH HENSON lived out the rest of his life
solely determined to improve the condition of his people's
population in Canada. The schools and industries he helped
found educated thousands of escaped slaves lead a better
life in their new homeland.

Harriet Beacher Stowe's novel; UNCLE TOM'S CABIN was
inspired after she read the autobiography of JOSIAH HENSON.
Her book was said to have been a catalyst to the ensuing
battle over slavery prior to the Civil war.

JOSIAH HENSON was finally recognized for his life's work in
1983 when the Canadian Post issued a stamp commemorating his
life as a community leader and one of the very first
conductors on the Underground Railroad. JOSIAH in his few
trips he made to the South rescued over one hundred eighteen
slaves. He lived a full life until his death in 1883. He was
94 years old.
Next scene are narratives from some of Josiah Henson's
actual descendants.


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