By: William Wells Brown (1814-1884)
William Wells Brown was born a slave, near Lexington, Kentucky. His mother, Elizabeth, was a slave; his father was a white man who never acknowledged his paternity. Brown escaped slavery at about the age of 20. For many years he worked as a steam boatman and as a conductor for the Underground Railroad in Buffalo, New York. In 1843, he became a lecturer for the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, and was a contemporary of Frederick Douglass.
Brown went to Europe in 1849 to encourage British support for the anti-slavery movement in the United States. He remained there until 1854 when British abolitionists purchased his freedom. Soon afterward, he returned to the United States to continue his work in the abolitionist movement.
Throughout his life he wrote several books, including his autobiography, Three Years In Europe; Or, Places I Have Seen And People I Have Met, Clotel, and The Rising Son; or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race, among others. In My Southern Home: Or, The South And Its People, Brown’s final work, he reflects on his life and his experiences as a slave from a post-emancipation perspective. It is a review of his travels through several southern states during the time of slavery, including his observations and commentary on the social and political relationships between whites and African Americans of that period. (Introduction by James K. White)