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Clotel: Or, the President's Daughter
     

Clotel: Or, the President's Daughter

3.3 3
by William Wells Brown, JD Jackson (Narrated by)
 

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First published in 1853 amidst rumors that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves, Clotel is a fictional chronicle of one such child. After Jefferson’s death, his mistress and her two daughters are auctioned. One daughter, Clotel, is purchased by a white man from Virginia who impregnates her. Despite the promise of marriage, Clotel is

Overview

First published in 1853 amidst rumors that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves, Clotel is a fictional chronicle of one such child. After Jefferson’s death, his mistress and her two daughters are auctioned. One daughter, Clotel, is purchased by a white man from Virginia who impregnates her. Despite the promise of marriage, Clotel is instead sold to another man and separated from her daughter. After escaping from the slave dealer, Clotel returns to Virginia to reunite with her daughter – now a slave in her father’s house.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
06/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—This historically significant book was written by an escaped slave who eventually made his way to Great Britain. Clotel was first published in 1853 and is believed to be the first novel by an African American writer. The book traces the fictitious life of one of Thomas Jefferson's daughters, Clotel, born to one of his slaves. The story of Clotel—living as a mistress to her master, being sold when she loses favor with his wife, being separated from her daughter, her escape and attempt to rescue her daughter from slavery, ending in her suicide—is interspersed with vignettes of other slaves' mistreatment and failed escape attempts. The novel doesn't mince details about the brutality of slave families being torn apart and the discrimination that is experienced by those of mixed-race heritage. Narrator J.D. Jackson has a wonderfully clear, deep voice, and he does a terrific job with the formal language indicative of the time. The novel is available in the public domain with a free audio download that is read by volunteers, but Jackson's version resonates beautifully. However, because of the stilted language, minimal dialogue, and the disjointed nature of the book, teens may have a difficult time relating to the audiobook. It may be of use in higher level history classes. Beautiful cello music introduces and ends the narrative.—Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC
From the Publisher
"A remarkable beginning for African-American fiction."
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781629232829
Publisher:
Dreamscape Media
Publication date:
01/28/2014
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 5.04(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


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 hislabour. 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."

Meet the Author

William Wells Brown (1814 - 1884) was born a slave in Kentucky. In 1834, he escaped to Ohio before moving to New York, and later, Great Britain. His novel, Clotel, is widely recognized as the first to be written by an African-American.

JD Jackson is currently an Adjunct Professor at Los Angeles Southwest College. He has an MFA in Theater from Temple University and several TV and movie credits to his name including roles on House MD, ER, Law & Order, Third Watch, and Lucky Number Slevin.

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Clotel; or the President's Daughter 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is mostly a political thesis with no backup. It is presented in a disjointed story form seemingly only to make it okay to present information without backing it up.