ABSTRACT This essay situates William Wells Brown's novel Clotel; or, the President's Daughter (1854) in the context of Anglo-American antislavery challenges to the legitimacy of the American Revolution on the eve of the Civil War. Brown's ambivalent approach to Thomas Jefferson in his novel matches what could be seen in the 1850s as Jefferson's ambivalent approach to human rights as a revolutionary leader. In foregrounding authorial power over his characters, Brown deploys the novel form as a way of examining the implications of the government of man.
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