Clotel; or, The President's Daughter

by William Wells Brown

Clotel; or, The President's Daughter

Clotel; or, The President's Daughter is a novel by William Wells Brown (1815 – 1884), a fugitive from slavery and abolitionist and was published in London, England in December 1853. It gained notoriety amid the unconfirmed rumors regarding Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Brown was still considered someone else's legal property within the borders of the United States at the time of its publication. It is considered to be the first novel written by an African American. The book follows the experiences of three generations of women during slavery.

Brown used the injustices of slavery to demonstrate the destructive effects it had on the African American family, most significantly the so–called tragic mulatto. Brown had escaped from slavery in Kentucky while still in his youth, and became active on the anti–slavery circuit.

Source: Brown, W. W. (1853). Clotel; or, The President's Daughter. London, England: Partridge & Oakey.

Preface to the work.
Memoir of the Author
This is a narrative of William Wells Brown's life and how he came out of slavery.
Chapter 1: The Negro Sale
Clotel, her sister Althesa, and her mother Currer are sold at a slave auction.
Chapter 2: Going to the South
Currer and Althesa head south with their new owner.
Chapter 3: The Negro Chase
Fear is overwhelming Currer after a runaway slave is hunted.
Chapter 4: The Quadroon's Home
Clotel and Horatio's relationship builds and changes.
Chapter 5: The Slave Market
Althesa goes to another slave market and is purchased by a new owner.
Chapter 6: The Religious Teacher
Hontz Synder gives a sermon to the people of the plantation.
Chapter 7: The Poor Whites, South
Synder talks about the poor whites in the South.
Chapter 8: The Seperation
Clotel's relationship with Horatio ends.
Chapter 9: The Man of Honour
Althesa goes home with her new master.
Chapter 10: The Young Christian
Georgiana speaks to her father, Mr. Peck, about her views on slavery.
Chapter 11: The Parson Poet
Carlton is surprised by an ad placed in the local newspaper. Mr. Peck writes a poem.
Chapter 12: A Night in the Parson's Kitchen
A dinner-party is held at Mr. Peck's house. Sam shares stories from his past.
Chapter 13: A Slave Hunting Parson
Carlton visits with Mr. Jones' slaves.
Chapter 14: A Free Woman Reduced to Slavery
Althesa helps her servant find freedom.
Chapter 15: To-Day a Mistress, Tomorrow A Slave
Clotel is sold once Horatio's wife finds out about her.
Chapter 16: Death of the Parson
Mr. Peck passes away.
Chapter 17: Retaliation
Horatio's wife mistreats Mary, Clotel's daughter.
Chapter 18: The Liberator
Georgiana and Carlton get married.
Chapter 19: Escape of Clotel
Clotel has some assistance escaping her current home.
Chapter 20: A True Democrat
Henry Morton gives his take on slavery.
Chapter 21: The Christian's Death
Georgiana's death leads to an early release of the slaves.
Chapter 22: A Ride in a Stage-Coach
Clotel takes an interesting stage coach ride to Richmond, Virginia.
Chapter 23: Truth Stranger than Fiction
Ellen and Jane Morton, Althesa's children, are sold after Henry Morton dies from Yellow Fever.
Chapter 24: The Arrest
Nat Turner interferes with Clotel's mission as a fugitive.
Chapter 25: Death is Freedom
Clotel escapes from the slave prison.
Chapter 26: The Escape
George Green, and his unfortunate situation, are introduced.
Chapter 27: The Mystery
George Green encounters a mysterious woman in a graveyard in France.
Chapter 28: The Happy Meeting
The mysterious woman of the graveyard is revealed.
Chapter 29: Conclusion
William Wells Brown wraps up the story.
  • Year Published: 1853
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 8.6
  • Word Count: 83,819
  • Genre: Realism
  • Keywords: abolition, equality, injustice, society
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