Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Amos Fortune, Free Man, Elizabeth Yates tells the life story of Amos Fortune, who was taken from Africa as a slave to New England, where he eventually gained his freedom. Fortune was not a renowned personage in American history; Yates relates the life of a common man who, through personal dignity and perseverance, affected the lives of those around him. In the acknowledgments, at the front of the book, Yates mentions the search for materials on Fortune’s life and the location of the documents in the East Jaffrey Library. She provides copies of certain documents in the text that help to anchor this biography in time and place, but much of the story had to be fictionalized.

The book is divided into ten chronologically organized chapters, with each chapter corresponding to major changes in Fortune’s life. Nora S. Unwin provides small pen-and-ink drawings placed at the beginning of each chapter. The first chapter de-scribes the capture by slavers of fifteen-year-old Prince At-mun from his native village of At-mun-shi on the African Gold Coast in the year 1725. The second chapter contains an account of the voyage to Boston, the sale of At-mun to the Quaker Caleb Copeland, and the designation of the name “Amos.” Purchased in Boston by a Quaker, Amos was fortunate among slaves in the treatment that he received. He was allowed to attend Celia Copeland’s kitchen school, and he learned to read and write. Because he was treated so well, his...

(The entire section is 428 words.)