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Josiah Henson

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Josiah Henson (June 15, 1789May 5, 1883) was born into slavery in Charles County, Maryland. He escaped to Canada in 1830, and founded a settlement and labourer's school for other fugitive slaves at Dawn, Ontario. Henson's autobiography is believed to have inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. He died at Dresden, Ontario.

Henson was separated from his family as a young boy when he was sold as a young boy as property in an estate sale. Henson rose in the eyes of his owners and was eventually entrusted as the supervisor of his master's farm located in Montgomery County, Maryland in what is now Bethesda. He escaped to Canada in 1830 after learning he might be sold again, and founded a settlement and labourer's school for other fugitive slaves at Dawn, Canada West (now Ontario). Henson also became an active Methodist preacher, spoke as an abolitionist on lecture tour circuits throughout Britain and British North America, and worked as a some-time conductor on the Underground Railroad along routes between Tennessee and Ontario. He also served in the Canadian army as a militia officer. Henson's memoir "Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction" is widely believed to have inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. He died at Dresden, Ontario.

Josiah Henson is the first black person to be featured on a Canadian stamp. He was also honoured by the government of Canada when in 1999, they erected a plaque designating Henson as a Canadian of National Historical Significance.

The U.S. state of Maryland named an undeveloped state park site in Montgomery County after Henson in 1991.

Matthew Henson, the arctic explorer who accompanied Admiral Robert E. Peary on his expedition to the North Pole in 1909, is Josiah Hensonís great-grand nephew.

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