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Economics and Geography Lessons

Two Tickets To Freedom

MCPS Status of Book as of 4/4/96:
Approved as Library Book for Grades 4-7

Title: Two Tickets To Freedom by Florence B. Freedman, (Scholastic Inc., New York, 1971)

Lesson Developed by Patricia King Robeson

Literature Annotation: This book, which is a true story of fugitive slaves William and Ellen Craft, is based largely on William Craft's narrative, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom. The story begins on a winter morning in 1848 when Ellen Craft, a light-skinned young slave, disguises herself in men's clothing and walks into a train station in Macon, Georgia and purchases two tickets, one ticket was for herself and the other for her husband. Ellen posed as a white Southern planter, and her husband, William as her slave. This began their dangerous journey which took them to England and eventually back to Georgia.

Grade Level: 5

Duration: This book contains 93 pages which are divided into nine chapters. This lesson can be used as students are reading the book

Economic Concepts: Scarcity, Opportunity Cost, Interdependence

Geography Themes: Location, Place, Movement

MSPAP Outcomes and Indicators:

Economic Outcome: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the historical development and current status of economic principles, institutions, and processes needed to be effective citizens, consumers, and workers in American society.


Geography Outcome: Students will develop an understanding of geographic concepts and processes as needed to examine the role of culture, technology, and the environment in the location and distribution of human activities.


Objectives: Students will be able to:

Vocabulary: Underground Railroad, fugitive, abolitionists, Emancipation Proclamation


Teacher Background: Knowledge of the Underground Railroad

Lesson Development:

Setting for the story:

  1. Explain to the students that the book they are about to read is a true story about two fugitive slaves, William and Ellen Craft. The story begins early in the morning on Wednesday, December 21, 1848. Ask students to explain how Florence Freedman found information to write this story. After students have made several guesses, turn to the last page in the book and read the information on "Sources" to the students. Discuss how primary source materials were used to obtain factual information for the story.

  2. Divide the class into groups of four and give each group an atlas and an outline map of the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Instruction them to use the atlas and plan on a route that they think, as a group, the Crafts may have traveled from Macon, Georgia, to Halifax, Canada. Instruct them to draw the route on their map and to label cities, waterways, mountains, and other landmarks which they think the Crafts would have traveled through or crossed to reach Canada.

  3. Instruct the students to think about the date, 1848, and on the back of the map to list the modes of transportation the Crafts many have utilized on their journey.

  4. Explain to the students that this is a chapter book which will take several days to read. As they read they will be looking information to complete the Migration Chart. Give each student a copy of the Migration Chart. Instruct students to look at the Migration Chart so that they will know what information to look for as they read.

  5. Begin to read the book, Two Tickets to Freedom.

Story Discussion Activity:

  1. Explain how the Crafts were able to acquire the resources they needed to escape. (Slaves were not allowed to trade with Whites unless they had permission from their master, and many storekeepers were not willing to sell articles to slaves; but, William was able to find some sympathetic men who would trade and sell items to him. Ellen made her trousers. William saved money which his master had allowed him to earn by making cabinets.)

  2. Explain how the Crafts used the money and skills (human resources) they accumulated to make their dream come true. (The Crafts used the money they saved to buy tickets to travel on trains, boats and carriages. They also used some of the money to pay for shelter and clothing. They used their skills as a seamstress and a cabinet maker to earn more money.)

  3. Compare and contrast how the Crafts' plan of escape was different from that of other slaves who escaped. (Ellen, being of very light skin, traveled as a White male with her disguise, and William traveled as her slave. They traveled the way Whites would during the time of slavery. Other slaves had to use the Underground Railroad and hide in houses and never use public transportation. The Crafts and all slaves had to be very aware of "slave hunters".)

  4. Explain how the physical features of the land helped or hindered the Crafts in their escape. (In those days people traveled long distances by train, boat or horse and carriage. To take the shortest routes often meant traveling by water. The Crafts traveled across and on many rivers. They traveled along the flat land of the east coast. Every time the Crafts came to a city, they had to change to trains, boats or carriages. Their chances of getting caught were much greater because people were always looking for runaway slaves.)

  5. Explain how slaves who used the underground Railroad depended on human-made and natural physical features of the land to plan their journey. (Slaves on the Underground Railroad used ponds, streams, trees, fields, horses, etc. to plan their escape route. These features were used as markers to guide the slave. They could hide in forests and in barns and houses.)

  6. Explain how the Crafts' standard of living changed from the time they were slaves to when they lived as free persons in England. (In slavery, the Crafts lived in fear of being separated. They were not allowed to have a religious or civil wedding ceremony and were never taught to read or write. William was allowed to keep a little of the money he earned as a cabinet maker. In England, William taught himself to read and write and became a novelist and playwright and was an eloquent public speaker. He used his talents to promote world peace and the abolition of slavery. Ellen often went with William, and they met many prominent people. In England, William had a good job, and together they were able to have a family and raised four sons and one daughter)

  7. Explain how the Crafts' standard of living changed again when they returned to their Georgia. (The Crafts never forgot their roots. They knew that former slaves could not read or write and still lived in poverty. The Crafts decided to use the money they had earned in England to move back to Georgia. They bought a plantation and built a school on their land. They went from having a savings account to having a mortgage of $2,500 in order to provide services for others.)


  1. Give each student a second copy of the outline map of the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Instruct them to use their Migration Chart to map the route the Crafts traveled from slavery all the way to England. Allow students to use atlases and instruct them to include map elements: compass rose, key and title.

  2. Instruct them to look at the first map they used to plan the course of travel and compare it to the map they completed after reading the book. Ask students to explain their two maps.

Thoughtful Application:
Allow students to work in cooperative groups and give each group copies of "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and explain that this song was often sung by slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Since Ellen and William did not use the Underground Railroad, their song would have been different from this one. Instruct the student to write at least one verse of a song which the Crafts may have sung as a result of their journey to freedom. Students may use names of cities, rivers, landmarks, people, etc. Have students share their verse with others.

Extension: Read and discuss the book Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkins (Alfred A. Knoft, New York, 1993). Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt and Two Tickets to Freedom both describe ways runaway slaves traveled to reach freedom; but Clara used the Underground Railroad. Use both books and a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two stories.

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Last updated on April 3, 1997
Maintained by John L. Day