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Textual Introduction

Gerald Fulkerson

The Yale edition of Frederick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom seeks to
present a carefully determined critical text that restores as fully as possible the
form and content intended by its author. After searching for editions and printings
of Bondage and Freedom and analyzing the discovered texts, we have chosen a
copy-text that seems to preserve, to a greater extent than its alternatives, the acci-
dentals (punctuation, word-division, spelling, capitalization, and means of empha-
sis) of Douglass's work. Collation of the copy-text against the other relevant texts
coupled with examination of external evidence has resulted in emendation of the
copy-text in both substantives (the language) and accidentals. The data and ratio-
nale that informed the emending process are accessible in a four-part textual appa-
ratus (Textual Notes, List of Emendations, Historical Collation, and Line-End Hy-
phenation) that has been placed in an appendix in order to keep the main text
uncluttered. We have left the text unmodernized in order to maintain the integrity
of Douglass's vision of his work.

The publication history of Bondage and Freedom during Douglass's lifetime
is relatively uncomplicated. The only edition relevant to our efforts to establish a
critical text was first published in 1855 by the firm of Miller, Orton & Mulligan,
with offices in New York City and Auburn, New York. This edition comprises three
printings dated respectively 1855 (A), 1856 (B), and 1857 (C). In addition to the
English-language edition, two foreign-language editions were published: a Ger-
man translation by Douglass's friend Ottilie Assing appeared in Hamburg in 1860,
and a French translation hy Catherine Valérie Boissier Gasparin was published in
Paris in 1883.11. Douglass, Sclaverei und Freiheit: Autobiographie von Frederick Douglass; idem. Mes anneés
d'esclavage et de liberté par Frédèrick Douglass, marshal de Colombie (d'après l'anglais)
, trans.
Catherine Valérie Boissier Gasparin.

Douglass's correspondence contains evidence that after the Civil War he came
close to making the publication history of Bondage and Freedom somewhat more
complex. In mid-1864 Rufus Saxton, the owner of the stereotype plates from
which Miller, Orton & Mulligan had printed Bontage and Freedom, asked Doug-
lass whether he wished to purchase the plates for $150, noting that "they will bring
half this sum for old metal, so they are very cheap."22. Rufus Saxton to Douglass, 6 June 1864, General Correspondence File, reel 2, frame 34, FD
Papers, DLC.
By this time Bondage and
Freedom
had been out of print for seven years and had become difficult to find, so
it is possible that Douglass bought the plates with the intention of reprinting his

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