From the beginning of French rule of Missouri in 1720 through this state's abolition of slavery in 1865, liberty was always the goal of the vast majority of its enslaved people. The presence in eastern Kansas of a host of abolitionists from New England made slaveholding risky business. Mennonites and Quakers had voiced their detestation of human bondage long before the United States existed. A number of devout persons served time in the Missouri state penitentiary for slave stealing.Based largely on old newspapers, prison records, pardon papers, and other archival materials, this book is an account of the legal and physical obstacles that slaves faced in their quest for freedom and of the consequences suffered by persons who tried to help them. It looks at the widely held belief in slave states that African Americans thoroughly enjoyed being owned and that they only left their owners because they were enticed by abolitionists. It is an overview of attitudes toward slavery in early American abolitionist writings and the institution's protection in both the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution. It discusses the experiences of particular individuals such as Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave and seamstress who became Mary Todd Lincoln's best friend after President Lincoln's assassination. It also examines the Underground Railroad on Missouri's borders. Four appendices provide details from two Spanish colonial census reports, a list of abolitionist prison inmates with details about their time served, and the percentages of African Americans still in bondage in 16 jurisdictions from 1820 to 1860.