Time Era

Historic time period: 1850–1877

Full Steam to Freedom

150 years ago, the Civil War tore the United States of America into two parts, the Union and the Confederacy. Many people were involved in the war, from fighting on the battlefields to farming the food for soldiers, from acting as a spy between the sides to serving as a nurse. There are many extraordinary stories that can be told about the Civil War, and "Full Steam to Freedom" explores just one of them through reading and creative activities.

The National Museum of American History has a large and diverse collection of Civil War objects, from cannonballs to uniforms and photographs to newspapers. For more information, explore the Civil War section in the online exhibition, The Price of Freedom: Americans At War.

Seven Miles to Freedom tells the story of a young man who was born a slave, but escaped to freedom with his family. Robert Smalls's story brings details of the Civil War to life through his daring adventure. You can learn more about the Civil War, Robert Smalls, and maps by reading Seven Miles to Freedom and by checking out some of the related activities.

Read This Book

You can learn more about Robert Smalls by exploring these books.

More Recommended Books

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Seven Miles to Freedom book cover.

Featured Book

Seven Miles to Freedom

by Janet Halfmann

SEVEN MILES TO FREEDOM The Robert Smalls Story Text copyright (c) 2008 by Janet Halfmann Illustrations copyright (c) 2008 by Duane Smith. Permission arranged with LEE & Low BOOKS INC., New York, NY 10116.


  • Image of a map

    Neighborhood Navigator

    Take a Trip

    Use an online map to plan a trip around your neighborhood or create your own map to share with a friend.

    Download the PDF »
  • Image of Civil War naval officers.

    Running the Blockade

    Play and Create

    Protect your shores and start your own signal corps with this outdoor group game! Image courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.

    Download the PDF »
  • image of filmstrips

    Slideshow Storyteller

    Use Technology

    Pick your favorite part of Robert Smalls's story and dig deeper with a guided Internet search, then create a slideshow of your findings.

    Download the PDF »
  • Image of Robert Smalls from newspaper

    Three Sides of the Smalls Story

    Study in School

    Compare and contrast the ways that Robert Smalls's story is told in Seven Miles to Freedom, the New York Daily Herald, and the Charleston Daily Courier. Image courtesy of Harper's Weekly.

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