Benjamin Drew, a Boston abolitionist acting in cooperation with officers
of the Canadian Anti-Slavery Society, visited various towns of Upper
Canada around the middle 1850's, interviewing scores of refugees from the
slave states and copying their words soon after they were spoken. For
reasons of safety, he protected the identity of his informants and used
fictitious names. There were about 30,000 Negroes at that time in Upper,
Canada, mostly adults who had once been slaves. John P. Jewett, the
prominent abolitionist-minded publisher of Boston who had unexpectedly
reaped a fortune from printing Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852, vouched for
the integrity and intelligence of Drew.
The testimony tends to stress well-known gross abuses, but some of the ex-slaves offer fresh insights into the working of the plantation system.