William Wells Brown, who is credited with being the first African American novelist, crafts a groundbreaking piece of American fiction in his 1853 work "Clotel; Or, The President's Daughter". The long untouched subject matter of mixed race identity during the antebellum South is here treated with great deft and bravery. William Wells Brown confronts the hypocrisy of slavery, examining the detrimental effects it has on society. Even more direct is Brown's confrontation of Thomas Jefferson's controversial intimacy with his slaves, a relationship which bore many mixed race children. In "Clotel", we follow the story of Clotel, a mixed-race daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Through this central character we witness the struggles of a person of mixed race in dealing with their split identity in a racially divided society. In her quest for freedom we find an ill-fated soul caught up in the difficulty of race relations in early American life. This tragic story brilliantly explores the complex history of slavery in the first part of the 19th century.
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