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'American to the Backbone' author to speak at Washington County museum

June 20, 2011

HAGERSTOWN — Washington County Free Library will welcome author Christopher Webber to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday, July 14, at 7 p.m. as part of a fundraising event benefiting the library’s Western Maryland Room and the museum’s children’s educational programs.

Webber is the author of the newly released book “American to the Backbone: The Life of James W.C. Pennington. The Fugitive Slave Who Became One of the First Black Abolitionists.”

Tickets cost $25. Tickets can be purchased through the link on the library website at www.washcolibrary.org or by calling 301-739-3250, ext. 128. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

A light reception and book signing will follow the presentation. Books will be available to purchase at the event.

“American to the Backbone” brings to life the story of one of the nation’s forgotten heroes and pioneers for equal rights. James Pembroke (Pennington) was born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and sent by his owner, Frisby Tilghman, to Rockland, south of Hagerstown. There he learned the skills of a blacksmith. He escaped from slavery Oct. 28, 1827, going first to Pennsylvania, and later moving to New York and Connecticut. He later became a minister and changed his name to James W. C. Pennington.

He became an internationally recognized leader of the antebellum abolitionist movement and his work helped lay the foundation for the contemporary civil rights movement.

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