Many pieces of fiction have presented various views of slavery-to-freedom. The majority are set in the era after the Civil War and rarely tell about people of color on the early frontier. Mountain men, businessmen, wagon guides, and more trekked west in the early 19th century. Many of these people were not slaves, and their contribution, from Jim Beckwourth (trapper and guide and discoverer of Beckwourth Pass, California) to George Bush (a pioneer in the Pacific Northwest where a section of Puget Sound still bears his name) are integral parts of American history.
Told in first person, Hammer Comes Down: Memoirs of a Freedman depicts the atypical life of Jason (born in the 1820), manservant to Tolin Cobb, heir to an Alabama plantation. Jason grows up knowing well the restraint demanded of a black man, yet always dreams of freedom. The 1836 Creek Indian war changes the lives of the two young men when the plantation is destroyed. Devastated by the loss of family and friends, Jason, is taken West with his master. There Jason survives various adventures at Fort Laramie, Independence, Missouri, and in Indian Territory. Each shows him different levels of Freedom, and he finds more than he ever imagined.