The movie winning the Oscar for Best Motion Picture in 2014 was 12 Years a Slave. It recounted the story of Solomon Northrup, a free resident of New York State who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. He languished in slavery for twelve years in Lousiana before he was located and freed to return home.

This story was told in Uncle Tom’s Kindred, or the Wrongs of the Lowly, a 10-volume set of books released from 1853-1855, consisting of “slave narratives” and sketches. Volume I contains the story of Solomon Northrup. Remarkably, the historic set was published by the Western Branch Book Concern, a Mansfield, Ohio ministry that served as a publishing arm of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection from 1850-1856. The editor and publisher was Rev. Edward Smith, a Wesleyan minister who was one of the founders of our denomination.

Smith’s story is fascinating. He was disowned by his well-to-do father and family for becoming a Methodist minister. His family was a slave-owning family in Virginia, and he although he began as a slave-owner, he became one of the strongest voices against slavery and was expelled from the Methodist Episcopal Church in Virginia for that reason.

To read more about Rev. Edward Smith and his connection with 12 Years a Slave, readhere.