Reflections in Black: William Wells Brown

Feb 26, 2020

William Wells Brown was born around 1814 to a white father and enslaved mother. As a young man, he spent much of his youth in St. Louis, Mo. working in different trades. On New Years Day 1834, William escaped from his master's steamboat while docked in Cincinnati, Ohio. He relished in his newfound freedom and was eventually taken in by the Wells Browns, a white Quaker family whose last name he'd eventually adopt. In Ohio, William met his wife and fathered two daughters. After moving his family to New York, Brown became a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Brown would also go on to write three widely popular texts: Three Years in Europe, Clotel, and his autobiography, Narrative of William W. Brown a Fugitive Slave Written By Himself. William would also deliver more than 1,000 speeches across North America and Europe before settling in Boston, where he lived until his death in 1884.