Master James, a Missouri farmer during the 1850s, wants to make surehis slaves had a better life upon his death. So when he passes away,fourteen-year-old Joe, his pap, and the rest of the family are set free.Stepping in to help, the master's brother, Doc, travels with the freed family toIowa and lets them work on land that he owns, with the promise that one day itwill be their own. But it's not long before the family learns that even thoughthey have gained their freedom, they have not earned respect. They are taunted,harassed, and threatened.As his family struggles to maintain dignity, young Joe learns from Doc about aplan for an Underground Railroad, which would help enslaved blacks maketheir way north to the free states. Joe knows that he must help others fight forthe freedom, however imperfect, that he's had the privilege of experiencingfirsthand. But in doing so, he also knows he risks his very life.As Joe comes of age, he teams up with abolitionist preacher John Brown andothers to organize the Underground Railroad in Iowa, which eventually helpshundreds, and perhaps thousands, of slaves on their way to freedom.