William Wells Brown was born a slave, near Lexington, Kentucky. His mother, Elizabeth, was a slave–his father a white man who never acknowledged his paternity. Brown escaped slavery at about the age of 20. For many years he worked as a steamboatman and as a conductor for the Underground Railroad in Buffalo, New York. In 1843, he became a lecturer for the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, and was a contemporary of Frederick Douglass.
Brown went to Europe in 1849 to encourage British support for the anti-slavery movement in the United States. He remained there until 1854 when British abolitionists purchased his freedom. Soon afterward, he returned to the United States to continue his work in the abolitionist movement.
Three Years In Europe; Or, Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met is a series of letters that Brown wrote to certain of his friends. A few were destined for publication in The Liberator, the famed abolitionist journal published by Frederick Douglass. In the letters, Brown described his impressions while traveling across Europe, meeting and sharing his experiences first as a slave and then as a fugitive.
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