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North American Review, Harper's New Monthly, London Quarterly Re-
view
, Blackwood's, and Atlantic Monthly. He also noted, excerpted, or re-
viewed the autobiographical writings of Thomas De Quincey and others.
Among the antebellum English and American autobiographies listed in the
inventory of Douglass’s library were those of Thomas Hart Benton, Robert
Romain, Henry C. Wright, Sargent S. Prentiss, and the anonymous Autobi-
ography of a Working Man
. Through such reading Douglass became thor-
oughly acquainted with the autobiographical conventions discussed by De
Quincey, McNicoll, and other critics. As a consequence, he could con-
sciously or unconsciously shape Bondage and Freedom more directly to
the concerns of critics and encompass in the book more autobiographical
elements than had been the case in 1845.28

Douglass and his coeditors reviewed many of the twenty-one slave au-
tobiographies published between 1846 and 1855. His critical comments in-
dicate that he viewed them primarily as documents useful in shedding light
on slavery. He applauded simplicity and sincerity in such accounts. In 1849
Douglass reviewed the Narrative of the Life of Henry Bibb, calling it “cer-
tainly one of the most interesting and thrilling narratives of slavery ever laid
before the American people.” Douglass applauded Bibb’s exposure “of the
horrors of slavery,” his description of the slave’s “longing for freedom” and
“narrations of the cruelty of individual slaveholders.” Accepting the verac-
ity of the work, Douglass contended that it was “a most valuable acquisition
to the anti-slavery cause.” In an earlier 1849 review of Wilson Armistead’s
compilation of narratives and biographical sketches of blacks, A Tribute for
the Negro
, Douglass revealed considerably more of the critical canon that
he applied to autobiographical works. Commending Armistead as “a calm,
disinterested Christian and scholar,” Douglass praised his book because it
was “plain, simple, truthful and is chiefly valuable as the repository of a lu-
minous and brilliant array of testimony, in favor of our claims to be re-
garded as equal members of the great human family, with the rest of
mankind, gathered with much industry, from the most valuable sources.”29

Many of Douglass’s friends in the black community published autobi-
ographies between 1846 and 1860. The black autobiographers read each
other’s works and shared a vision of the conventions governing and the pur-
poses served by their self-portraits. Douglass was thoroughly acquainted
with African-American antebellum autobiographical writings, and in fact

28. FDP, 20 May 1853.

29. NS, 7 April, 17 August 1849.

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