Winner of the 2014 Western Writers of America Spur Award
It was dangerous to be an abolitionist in the Deep South in the mid-19th century. But opposing slavery and helping runaway slaves escape toward Mexico or Canada was particularly risky in Texas in the final months before the Civil War. The state's rugged, open landscape offered few places to hide, and runaways often had to cover great distances just to get from one safe house to the next. Meanwhile, helping slaves flee or simply being suspected of anti-slavery feelings could get you and family members killed or your home or store torched by vigilantes. Henry Chappell's recent third novel, Silent We Stood, paints an engrossing, fact-based and frequently tense portrait of slavery and anti-slavery sentiments in North Texas in 1860. --Dallas Morning News
Texas was the darkest corner of the Old South, too remote and violent for even the bravest abolitionists. Yet North Texas newspapers commonly reported runaway slaves, and travelers in South Texas wrote of fugitives heading to Mexico. On July 8, 1860, Dallas, Texas burned. Three slaves were accused of arson and hanged without a trial. Today, most historians attribute the fire to carelessness.
Silent We Stood weaves the tale of a small band of abolitionists working in secrecy within Dallas's close-knit society. There's Joseph Shaw, an undertaker and underground railroad veteran with a shameful secret; Ig Bodeker, a charismatic, melancholic preacher; Rachel Bodeker, a fierce abolitionist, Ig's wife, and Joseph Shaw's lover; Rebekah, a freed slave who'll sacrifice everything for the cause; Samuel Smith, a crypto-freedman whose love for Rebekah exacts a terrible cost; and, towering above them all, a near-mythical one-armed runaway who haunts area slavers and brings hope to those dreaming of freedom.
With war looming and lives hanging in the balance, ideals must be weighed against friendship and love, and brutal decisions yield secrets that must be taken to the grave.
Henry Chappell is the author of two previous novels, Blood Kin and The Callings, four non-fiction books, and dozens of articles. He lives with his family in Parker, Texas.