The Liberator
Boston: 14 August 1857



To the Editor of the Boston Traveller:

  I have been rather surprised not to see any mention in your columns of the 'AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE;'—a book which, both by its contents, and the circumstances of its authorship, seems to me one of the most important yet published, notwithstanding 'Uncle Tom's Cabin;' I repeat it, one of the most important books ever published touching the Slavery question.

  The genius of Mrs. Stowe, which has mingled with her woful plot one of those things of beauty that are a joy forever, in the character of little Eva, has indeed carried to the ends of the earth some sad scenes, which we do not wonder should suggest, by the intensity of evil they imply, the idea that art had exerted its power to exaggerate fact. But it will awaken new interest in the 'Autobiography of a female Slave' to know that its author, herself a slaveholder, commenced writing the book because she thought Mrs. Stowe had drawn too favorable a picture; and had left it to be inferred that cruelty was the exception, and not the rule of the system, and the family of Shelby one quite common at the South. There is not one painful incident in the 'Autobiography' which was not a fact! and it has been one great object of the writer to show what monsters the system makes of women, who even in the higher rank of life, whip their slaves themselves, and sometimes to death!

  One of our distinguished lecturers has said, 'Women are more intense than men, and so better if good, but worse if bad.' Slavery makes greater monsters of women than of men, except in those cases where it makes them sufferers—suffering more than men, also, by reason of this same intensity of temperament. The author of this work was one of those sufferers from childhood; and Eva who has grown up; and, with no teacher but her own heart and mind, she has developed in her own person an abolitionist out of the bosom of a slaveholding community; one who, single-handed and alone, has not hesitated to begin the great work of emancipation by herself leading the way—and who has impoverished herself entirely, rather than live at the expense of that liberty, which is the life of life to every human being. Here is a testimony,—in spite of self-interest, and from the deepest knowledge,—which cannot be gainsayed; for to hold it up, severs all the author's ties of family and friendship!

  The book, too, as a mere story, has a thrilling interest. It is woven together with a natural talent which has relieved its horrible facts by some ideal characters, that enable one to bear it—and the style is in keeping with the assumed autobiographer, who is by no means an impossible character among slaves.

  If the newspapers of the Republican party would do their duty in bringing into notice this work, (as well as the 'Life of Peter Still,' which is in no sense an ideal but an entirely real biography,) they would most effectually serve their cause. And the sale of the 'Autobiography' will put into its author's hands the means of doing a good to the living, suffering 'chattels' themselves, which is not to be measured by human measurement.

  Why does not the publisher of the book scatter it broadcast over the land? Is he afraid he might injure his other publications in the Southern market? Even if it did, he would be more than compensated; for the 'ower true tale' would run like wild-fire over the whole North, were it once well set going. 'Uncle Tom' had the advantage of being published in chapters in the National Era, before it was offered to the public, or it might not have gone so fast and far as it did.

  Pray do your best to help the 'young martyr,' as Mr. Seward calls her in a letter that I have just seen from his pen. Whoever buys the book, will directly help to make 'the bond free.'