Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was one of 19th-century America's most prolific
and important women of letters. She wrote novels and poems (including "Mary Had
a Little Lamb," 1830) and was the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, the
country's first women's magazine. Liberia is not, strictly speaking, a "pro-slavery"
novel. Its hero, Mr. Peyton, is a slave-owner, but he wants to free
the people he has enslaved. First, however, he has to satisfy himself (and Mrs. Hale)
that they will be as happy in freedom as they have been in bondage to him. He
"experiments" by setting them up first with a farm in the South, then in
a city in the North, and then with lives in Canada -- but
according to this polemical account, blacks are unfitted for all of these
existences. The advent of the Colonization Society enables Peyton to send them
to Liberia, where they are described as living happily ever after. The Appendix
includes a batch of letters identified as from former American slaves now living
Wright American Fiction Project, Indiana University Library.
Clifton Waller Barrett Collection