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Life and Adventures of Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw

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By: (1779-1863)

The Life and Adventures of Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw by Frances Milton Trollope is a captivating tale of one man's journey through the American wilderness in the early 19th century. The story follows Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw as he navigates the challenges of frontier life, facing dangers and obstacles at every turn.

Trollope's vivid descriptions bring the rugged landscape to life, painting a vivid picture of the untamed wilderness that Whitlaw must traverse. The author's attention to detail immerses the reader in the setting, allowing them to experience the beauty and brutality of the American frontier alongside Whitlaw.

The character of Whitlaw is well-developed and complex, making him a compelling protagonist to follow throughout the story. As he encounters various characters and situations, Whitlaw's resilience and determination shine through, driving the narrative forward.

Overall, The Life and Adventures of Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw is a gripping and immersive read that transports readers to a bygone era. Trollope's skillful storytelling and richly drawn characters make this a must-read for fans of historical fiction and adventure tales.

Book Description:
The novel begins with the arrival of a family staking a claim in the black delta of the Deep South. Whitlaw is a brutish sort who bullies his cowering wife into working herself to death. Shortly after giving birth to a strapping man-child, the wife, Portia, dutifully dies. Her sister-in-law, Clio, takes over the responsibilities of raising the young Whitlaw and tending to every need and whim of her brother. Jonathan Jefferson grows up to be shrewd, conniving, and sly, driven – as Trollope thought most Americans were – by a compulsion for financial success. He and his father build up a prosperous store, selling to boats coming down the Mississippi. Jonathan meets Colonel Dart on one of his river trips, who decides to mentor him into becoming his personal confidential clerk. Translated, this means that Jonathan will be expected to spy on the slaves to make sure that they are not slacking, stealing, or conspiring to murder the Dart family. Once the Whitlaws are resuscitated in an area called Mount Etna, near Natchez, they meet the Steinmark family. These are immigrants from Bavaria who are in Trollope’s story as exemplars of farmers who can run a large, successful operation without slaves. The Whitlaws look down on them because according to their code, having slaves is a status symbol. To the Steinmarks, having slaves is an abomination against God, and at risk to their own lives, they give sanctuary to slave refugees.Jonathan’s philosophy is that in America, every man should be free to do whatever he pleases. Accordingly, he is quite the hedonist. Of course, slaves are not considered men, and white women are not considered a part of mankind. He is rather astounded then when Steinmark’s only daughter, Lotte, refuses to marry him. Piqued, he intends to take by force Phebe, an attractive, light-skinned, devoutly religious young slave. His efforts are thwarted by Old Juno, the ancient slave matriarch of the plantation. She is able to control Whitlaw through his terror of her supernatural powers.

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