National Geographic : 1984 Jul
Welcoming beacon from Liberty Hill (left) once drew fugitives from Kentucky across the Ohio River to the Ripley, Ohio, farm of the Reverend JohnRankin (above). Ofttimes escapees oriented by the North Star, seen above his house in a time exposure (upper right). For40 years the outspoken Presbyterianministerpassed refugees north, his sons ready to defend them with guns. Slave owners offered rewards of as much as $2,500for the "abduction or assassination"of Rankin and otherconductors. One winter eve a bondswoman carryingher child crossed over on the river'smelting ice, a journey recalled by footsteps on the Kentucky shore (lower right); she found refuge with Rankin, Coffin, and others. Harriet Beecher Stowe drew on this and other episodes to create Eliza Harrisin Uncle Tom's Cabin. Publishedin 1852 "to show that the evils of slavery were the inherentevils of a bad system," the novel influenced emotions leading to the Civil War.