Clotel: or, The President's Daughter (Penguin Classics) - Softcover

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9780142437728: Clotel: or, The President's Daughter (Penguin Classics)
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First published in December 1853, Clotel was written amid then unconfirmed rumors that Thomas Jefferson had fathered children with one of his slaves. The story begins with the auction of his mistress, here called Currer, and their two daughters, Clotel and Althesa. The Virginian who buys Clotel falls in love with her, gets her pregnant, seems to promise marriage—then sells her. Escaping from the slave dealer, Clotel returns to Virginia disguised as a white man in order to rescue her daughter, Mary, a slave in her father’s house. A fast-paced and harrowing tale of slavery and freedom, of the hypocrisies of a nation founded on democratic principles, Clotel is more than a sensationalist novel. It is a founding text of the African American novelistic tradition, a brilliantly composed and richly detailed exploration of human relations in a new world in which race is a cultural construct.

    First time in Penguin Classics
    Includes appendices that show the different endings Brown created for the various later versions of Clotel, along with the author's narrative of his "Life and Escape," Introduction, suggested readings, and comprehensive explanatory notes

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:
William Wells Brown (1814–1884) was born a slave, escaped to the North and then to England, and became one of the most prominent abolitionists of his time. During his prolific literary career, Brown was a pioneer in several different genres, including travel writing, fiction, and drama.

M. Giulia Fabi is the author of Passing and the Rise of the African American Novel. She teaches American literature at the University of Ferrara, Italy.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Negro Sale.
"Why stands she near the auction stand,
That girl so young and fair?
What brings her to this dismal place,
Why stands she weeping there?"
With the growing population of slaves in the Southern States of America,
there is a fearful increase of half whites, most of whose fathers are
slaveowners, and their mothers slaves. Society does not frown upon the man
who sits with his mulatto child upon his knee, whilst its mother stands a
slave behind his chair. The late Henry Clay, some years since, predicted
that the abolition of Negro slavery would be brought about by the
amalgamation of the races. John Randolph, a distinguished slaveholder of
Virginia, and a prominent statesman, said in a speech in the legislature of
his native state, that "the blood of the first American statesmen coursed
through the veins of the slave of the South." In all the cities and towns
of the slave states, the real Negro, or clear black, does not amount to
more than one in every four of the slave population. This fact is, of
itself, the best evidence of the degraded and immoral condition of the
relation of master and slave in the United States of America.
In all the slave states, the law says:?"Slaves shall be deemed, sold
[held], taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the
hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators
and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever. A
slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master
may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, and his labour. He can
do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything, but what must belong to
his master. The slave is entirely subject to the will of his master, who
may correct and chastise him, though not with unusual rigour, or so as to
maim and mutilate him, or expose him to the danger of loss of life, or to
cause his death. The slave, to remain a slave, must be sensible that there
is no appeal from his master." Where the slave is placed by law entirely
under the control of the man who claims him, body and soul, as property,
what else could be expected than the most depraved social condition? The
marriage relation, the oldest and most sacred institution given to man by
his Creator, is unknown and unrecognised in the slave laws of the United
States. Would that we could say, that the moral and religious teaching in
the slave states were better than the laws; but, alas! we cannot. A few
years since, some slaveholders became a little uneasy in their minds about
the rightfulness of permitting slaves to take to themselves husbands and
wives, while they still had others living, and applied to their religious
teachers for advice; and the following will show how this grave and
important subject was treated:?
"Is a servant, whose husband or wife has been sold by his or her master
into a distant country, to be permitted to marry again?"
The query was referred to a committee, who made the following report;
which, after discussion, was adopted:?
"That, in view of the circumstances in which servants in this country are
placed, the committee are unanimous in the opinion, that it is better to
permit servants thus circumstanced to take another husband or wife."

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

  • PublisherPenguin Classics
  • Publication date2003
  • ISBN 10 0142437727
  • ISBN 13 9780142437728
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages320
  • Rating
    3.61 avg rating
    ( 2,046 ratings by Goodreads )

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9781434617002: Clotel; or the President's Daughter

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ISBN 10:  ISBN 13:  9781434617002
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