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'Addy Studies Freedom is part of the Short Stories collection, focusing on Addy Walker.


Only in Addy Studies Freedom[]

Story Summary[]


Addy struggles to start her school paper about freedom.

Addy and Sarah are headed home from Sixth Street School on a Friday afternoon. Addy is bursting with good news, and tells it to Sarah--now that the war has formally ended this past Sunday and slavery is abolished, Poppa is going south on a train to look for Esther, Sam, Auntie Lula, and Uncle Solomon (as before this, he likely would have been re-enslaved if he tried to go south). Sunday evening had been better than a dream--a citywide celebration that lasted all night that was still real in the morning (and Addy's chosen birthday with a party as well). Sarah, trying to keep up with Addy, suggests that Addy could write about that for the theme of their paper; Miss Dunn has given the whole class an assignment to write a one-page paper titled "Why My Heart is Glad My Country Is Free" (which she got the idea of from a banner that was carried through the city), with the topic of what freedom means to each student individually. Addy agrees and says Poppas's now free to go wherever he wants, but Sarah reminds Addy that Black people can't eat inside a ice cream parlor; Addy adds that they also can't ride inside the streetcars, waiting on the curb as two of them come down the street.

As they're waiting, two black men shoveling manure are talking. The younger says that that now that the war is over, there's going to be so much money piled in the streets that they'll need shovels bigger than the ones they're using. The men turn to Addy and Sarah and the older man says to pay the younger man no mind--he's crazy--but the younger says he's not crazy and the girls should get their shovels. Addy and Sarah laugh as the men move on, and on the other side of the street Addy finds a penny and muses that maybe the younger man was right.

Sarah heads towards her own home and Addy, walking on, notices the people in the streets are all happy and celebratory--regardless of race or age--and are greeting each other as they pass; even the horses appear to whinny at each other. She thinks that maybe everyone is studying on freedom with the war over. She feels as if she has been studying freedom forever--wondering, worrying, and thinking about it--and that there is so much she wants to write in her paper. But words don't come easy--they are clear in her head but cloudy when she tries to write, and she wants her words for this essay to be just right. Before supper she sits next to her bed and lets the words flow out about freedom--that she's overjoyed for the end of the war and slavery, that freedom means that her whole family is now free. However, she doesn't know why freedom means segregation (what she describes as one freedom for blacks and one for whites) and that if she could ask Mr. Lincoln a question, she would ask him why and that maybe since--in her perception--that he stopped the war, that he can make one freedom happen. She then is in silence until supper, when she thinks she needs to study more on freedom before trying her essay again.


Addy gets the sad news about Lincoln's death from the butcher.

On Saturday morning, Addy wakes up late; her parents have already left for their jobs and Momma has left buttermilk and cornbread for her breakfast and a note on Addy's slate that she should go to the butcher and pick up some neckbones on their account. Addy thinks hungrily about the delicious way Momma cooks them. She'll be making them for the church supper on Sunday, where they will be holding a whole day of worship and praise for President Lincoln.

She arrives at the butcher shop to find it surprisingly empty as it is normally very busy on Saturdays. Other than the butcher, there's one woman at the counter, and Addy notices that she's crying. The butcher says that it's a shame and that Lincoln was a fine man; the use of past tense alerts Addy. The woman cries that war will come again, and the butcher says for her not to get ahead of herself and names her as Mrs. Andersen. Mr.s Andersen then says that if they--the Confederate forces--made it to Gettysburg before, they'll surely make it to Philadelphia this time, then turns to Addy and hysterically tells her to save herself before rushing out the door. Addy asks the butcher if the war has started again and he says no and that Mrs. Andersen carries on and that just because the president is dead--

Addy interrupts and fearfully asks if he means President Lincoln. The butcher informs her that he was shot last night at a theatre in Washington, DC, and the news came in that morning that he died--and that the act was by a coward. Addy, in shock doesn't want to believe this is true; when the butcher asks her what she's come for, she stammers and bolts out, running towards the dress shop to find Momma. The mood on the streets is significantly changed from yesterday; people are clustered somberly outside shops, not smiling, and some people are crying, even grown men; it is as if everyone has heard the bad news. The shop is is locked when she arrives and dark inside. Addy races for the boarding house, feeling like she hasn't been this scared since she and Momma ran to freedom in the woods--but now it is through Philadelphia and she fears whatever freedom her family has may end.

She arrives at the boarding house to find the grownups in the dining room, and wipes her tears before coming in. The Goldens, M'Dear, and a boarder named Mr. Williams are there with Momma, and Addy sits in Momma's lap as the grownups talk around her. Mr. Williams says he doesn't know why everyone's fussing and carrying on, as he feels that Lincoln never cared about black people. Ms. Golden says that Lincoln freed the slaves, and Mr. Williams protests that he freed himself. Mr. Golden says that Lincoln was a good man and to give him credit as he didn't have to speak out against slavery at all, and he was shot because of his support of black people. M'Dear agrees, saying that some white people think he did too much.


Momma tries to reassure Addy about things being all right in the dining room.

Addy asks if the war will start again. Momma rubs her back and says not to worry and that the war is over. Mrs. Golden laments that his poor wife has lost her husband. Addy blurts out what if the war's not over and that since Lincoln got everyone to stop fighting, who'll stop war now? Momma firmly tells Addy that there isn't any more war and that the adult talk is troubling her, so she should go to their room and she'll bring her tea. Addy heads out of the dining room and hears M'Dear lament that the Lincoln children woke up to a nightmare of their own; Momma says they all have. Addy plops down in a chair upstairs and thinks that what's being talked about isn't just "grown up" talk. She--continuing to fret--wonders that if the war starts again, anything could happen to Sam or Esther. She pinches the back of her hand, as if it is a nightmare she can wake from, but nothing changes.

The next day at church is not the planned celebration. There are a few songs and then Reverend Drake starts his sermon. He says that Lincoln led them to the promised land and compares him to Moses, who led the Israelites to their promised land but did not enter himself and died before he could arrive--and that Lincoln has also died before the nation's arrival to the promised land. Many of the women around Addy and Momma in the women's section are crying, and Momma has her head bowed in prayer. Reverend Drake continues that many of them may wonder why Lincoln was killed, and that he doesn't know why. But that no matter what man may intend for evil, God can use for good--in seasons of sorrow as well as joy; he then quotes sections from Ecclesiastes 3 (the verses about a time for everything).

The next week is a time of mourning across Philadelphia; Addy is off from school and so goes with Momma to her work. The city is draped in black cloth and a quiet like fog as everyone prepares for the weekend when Lincoln's funeral train will arrive in Philadelphia; there will be a processional on Saturday and a public viewing of the body at the State House on Sunday. Momma and Mrs. Ford are busy with women who wish to have black ruffles added to their mourning cloaks and dresses. That Saturday Addy and her parents dress in their best clothes and find a spot on top of a building that Poppa and Mr. Roberts--who just hired him--have been working on. The roof offers a better vantage point, as the street is crowded five people deep, reminding Addy about the parting of the Red Sea. Cannon fire and gunshots startle Addy, and Poppa tells her it's to salute the president. They wait on the roof for hours and Addy is cold, stiff, tired and hungry. It is nearly dark when she sees eight black horses in silver and feathered headdresses, and their driver in a top hat sitting high on a tall wagon. Addy has never seen such a fancy wagon; it has a canopy a story tall, decorated in black with silver trim, and underneath the canopy is the coffin, a long black box with silver trim. Momma cries as the wagon passes and Poppa comforts her.

Mr. Roberts says he saw Lincoln come through during his inauguration and present at the State House, giving a speech where he stated he would rather be killed than betray the principles of the Declaration of Independence--and that Mr. Roberts thinks the president was true to that vow to his death. Addy thinks about how, soon after her arrival in Philadelphia, Miss Dunn had taught the class about the Declaration--and how, even before she could read them, Addy felt that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were words that had held meaning for her, and she had lived them during her flight to freedom. She laments that Mr. Lincoln was going to make one freedom for everyone and now he can't, and she fights tears as the procession leaves.

At five in the morning on Sunday, Addy and Poppa leave for the State House; Momma, who has caught a cold, doesn't feel up to going. Addy is glad to go as she never had the chance to speak to the President and wants to at least say goodbye. A block from the boarding house long lines have already formed, and Addy and Poppa have to walk nearly two miles to get to the end. The line continues to increase and barely moves; it takes two hours to move only a block. Yesterday everyone had been like a calm sea, but today they are restless, and there is pushing and shoving; despite the cool temperature, the lines are hot, and Addy is glad to be with Poppa who hoists her up on his shoulders to let her get some air. By noon the line has moved about half a mile; the issue is that there are lines on many streets leading towards the State House several miles long. A woman demands to be let out as she's had enough, and Addy grabs Poppa's hand as pushing and shoving starts, unclear if the woman is trying to leave or if someone trying to get in as there is a man's voice arguing that someone can't butt in and if they try he'll crack their head. Another woman yells for the police that her purse has been stolen.

The crowd suddenly surges forward, separating Addy from Poppa. She tries to scream for him but is pushed deeper in the crowd and smothered, feeling like she might pass out from dizziness and panic. Suddenly there is a lift from behind into the air, and she is set on the street by a white man near Poppa's age who has lifted her out. A black woman tells people to stand back and let the child--Addy--have air and asks who she's with, and Addy says her poppa just as he pushes through the crowd and she leaps into his arms. A soldier warns the crowd that they've been dealing with pickpockets all day and any more trouble will mean people being sent to the back of the line. The white man that helped Addy says they only want to pay respects, and the soldier says that everyone will have a chance and to get and stay in line. As they get back in line Poppa thanks the white man for helping Addy and the man says it was nothing; Poppa says it was kind. The man says to Addy--who is gripping Poppa's hand--that this is a day she'll remember her whole life and asks if Poppa thinks so, calling him sir. This gesture of respect from a white man puzzles Poppa a moment before he lights up; Addy has never heard someone address her father respectfully. Poppa replies that this is a day to remember.


Addy and Poppa pay quick respects to Lincoln lying in state.

It is nearly suppertime when Addy and Poppa finally reach the State House. They enter through on Chestnut Street and exit on Independence Square; there is no time for anyone to stop as they are filed past the coffin quickly. Addy, however, gets a glimpse of the president's face, which is the most peaceful face she has seen all week. As she and Poppa walk out onto the dark street, Poppa says that the president has found peace. Addy recalls the sermon last week where Reverend Drake compared Lincoln to Moses and his not reaching the Promised Land and says that it's not really a promised land as there is not freedom for black people like whites have. Poppa is quiet for a moment before saying that freedom doesn't come all at once--and that while President Lincoln has led the way, it's now them left that have to follow. Addy and Poppa walk home quietly in the dark, and Addy thinks about all the people she saw at the processional yesterday, Mrs. Ford and Mr. Roberts who are white people who have given her parents jobs and chances, and the white man who helped her today and showed her father more respect than any white man had before. She thinks that some people, perhaps, are headed in the right direction as she and her father head back home.

Meet The Author[]

Connie Porter discusses when President Kennedy was assassinated when she was young--four years old--and how his death upset her parents and her in a small way, though she was too young to understand fully the situation, and took comfort in her mother's lap.

Looking Back: The Death of Lincoln[]

Discusses the assassination and funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln. Topics covered:

  • Lincoln's many acts in office during his four years as president and actions to end slavery and reunify the country that had separated from the Confederate States' secession, including the declaration of war and the Emancipation Proclamation that freed Southern enslaved people, and how this made him a hero to many including abolitionists and freedmen
  • Enemies of Lincoln and specifically John Wilkes Booth, an actor and southern sympathizer who believed that Lincoln was giving Black people too much freedom in the US--and that Lincoln's proclamation to intend for black people to vote spurred him to threaten to kill him.
  • Booth shooting Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. during the presentation of the play Our American Cousin; and how, though Lincoln lived through the night, he died the next morning
  • How Lincoln's death brought on nationwide mourning--a sharp contrast from the previous celebrations
  • Lincoln's funeral in the White House on April 19th and mourning in churches nationwide
  • The funeral train procession, which went along the reverse of the route route Lincoln had taken to Washington, DC, before his first inauguration
  • The funeral procession in Philadelphia, PA--considered one of the most elaborate and grandest that was held on Saturday, April 22, 1865, with as many as half a million people--then the city's entire population--gathered to watch the procession from any position
  • The initial private viewings that night in Independence Hall, followed by the next day's public viewing with hundreds from outside the city coming in to view Lincoln lying in state
  • The long lines and willingness of people to wait all day to view the body laying in state in the same room the Declaration of Independence had been signed in, and that no pauses or stops were permitted to allow thousands to pay respects quickly
  • The many issues of the long lines due to it being Sunday, and the many times chaos broke out among lines with pushing and injuries (some serious)
  • How, when the train left the next morning for its next stop, an estimated three hundred thousand people around Philadelphia had paid public respects
  • The worries of war restarting and Black people being re-enslaved--but how many people united to mourn, show respects, and the coming together of people both white and Black that offered hope that things would continue to improve in the wake of the President's death

Activity: Learn About Lincoln[]

A small quiz--prefaced about how, in the 1860s, many did not know as much about Lincoln as in the current era but that many biographies have given more insight--with a short eight-question multi-choice quiz about Lincoln's childhood, early years in politics, and memorials, followed by the answers and explanations. Six books are then listed for further research:

  • Abe Lincoln: The Young Years by Keith Brandt
  • Back to the Day Lincoln Was Shot! by Beatrice Gormley
  • The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Brendan January
  • If you Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln by Ann McGovern
  • Abe Lincoln: Log Cabin to White House by Sterling North
  • Abe Lincoln Grows Up by Carl Sandburg


  • This is one of the select stories for a Historical Character that can be accurately pinned down to a specific set of dates; all the dates and events given are accurate to historical fact.
  • Addy's Stilting Outfit is illustrated both internally and on the cover, though at the time of the story's release it had been retired for about two years.


  1. Text, pg 1; the story starts on a Friday afternoon after the end of the Civil War, which had ended that Sunday.