WILLIAMS, James; - [John Greenleaf WHITTIER, editor]
Narrative of James Williams. An American Slave; Who was for Several Years a Driver on a Cotton Plantation in Alabama
New York: The American Anti-Slavery Society, 1838. 12mo. 108pp. Frontispiece portrait.
Publisher's pictorial boards, expertly rebacked with period cloth
Early slave narrative.
First edition, second issue of the first slave narrative published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, and among the first printed by abolitionists in general. The narrative belongs to fugitive slave James Williams who related his story to the great New England poet, John Greenleaf Whitter. The narrative was published anonymously, but in time Whittier acknowledged his participation in the work; according to one of the publishers, the work was entirely Whittier's idea in the first place. It was also published simultaneously as a small folio newspaper extra by The Anti-Slavery Examiner and as the sixth entry in the "Abolitionist's Library" in Boston. The frontispiece is a well-executed portrait engraving of James Williams by Patrick Reason. "The well written and interesting narrative shows Whittier's masterly hand. Williams, being uneducated, was obliged to dictate his story" (Rosenbach).
Howes W396; Library Company, Afro-Americana 11241; Sabin 103812; Rosenbach 3:758 (Boston Ed.); BAL 21709; Currier 37.