Clotel, or, The Presidents Daughter
by William Wells Brown
This text is from the back cover of the 1995 Carol Publishing Group edition, which is a reprint of the original with introduction by William Edward Farrison.
One of the unique books in American literature, this novel was written by an escaped Negro slave. Until he was twenty-one years old William Wells Brown could neither read nor write, which makes this work all the more remarkable, dramatic and moving.
Brown based his novel on the oft-repeated claim that Thomas Jefferson, who wrote magnificently about human freedom while continuing to buy, work, and sell slaves, had fathered many slave children. According to the legend, one of these children, a beautiful young girl, was later sold at auction.
Brown utilized this material for a bitter attack on the system of slavery. Whether the Jefferson story is true or not, it is certainly true that many slave-owners did sell their own children on the block.
Included in this volume is Browns own narrative of his life as a slave and his escape to Canada and on to England.
Professor Farrisons introduction presents the historical background of Clotel. The present edition is textually the same as the first edition, which was published in 1853.