Lewis Howard Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1848,
six years after his parents, George and Rebecca Latimer, had run away from slavery in Virginia. They were determined to be free and that their children be born on free soil. Because of his light complexion, George was able to pose as a plantation owner with the darker-skinned Rebecca as his slave. Shortly after arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, he was recognized as a fugitive and jailed while his wife was taken to a safe hiding place. The arrest was protested vigorously by the community. Frederick Douglass, a former slave who had escaped to Massachusetts several years earlier, and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison spoke forcefully against the arrest. There was a trial, and the attempts to recapture George and return him to Virginia caused considerable agitation in Boston. When the trial judge ruled that Latimer still belonged to his Virginia...