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The unique narrative of a slave who fled to freedom and sailed aboard a whaling vessel John Thompson was born into slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1812. Originally published in 1856, The Life of John Thompson, a Fugitive Slave chronicles his enslavement, his escape, and his life in the North, where he lived as a free man until fear of recapture drove him to flee once again-this time to sea aboard the Milwood, a whaling vessel. The only fugitive slave narrator to report a whaling voyage, Thompson crafted from his seafaring experience an allegorical sermon that caps his Life and renders it a kind of African American Pilgrim's Progress, as well as a narrative of struggle with, esc