England plays multiple roles in Clotel The most important role would be a “mother.” When I say, mother, I mean as in England created (birthed) America. Even before America was America it referred to England as like a mother. This can be seen in Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” insinuating England as a mother.
The reason this “mother” role is so important is that England shaped many if not most of America’s customs during this time. During this period America was still pretty much a baby country. Slavery is something that had come from England. England shaped everything, from the language, food, religion, and even how Wells wrote this book.
That is why I think the American people have worked so hard to create the idea of American Exceptionalism
England had been what all they knew for so long, so they had to create something different, but yet still show their strength without the country.
In addition to this idea of American exceptionalism, it only applies to white Americans. It doesn’t apply to minorities, especially during the time period of the book or even when it was published. These ideas that were coined were only to be partaken by white Americans. The idea of American exceptionalism is very different from let’s say an enslaved person’s point-of-view.
As one reviewer writes in the Bristol Mercury:
“The author vouches for the truth if the incidents and scenes contained in the work, and the writing has all the semblance of reality. In particular, the volume strongly illustrates the social evils springing….”
~”Clotel” Bristol Mercury (1853)
To me, this quote demonstrates exactly what Wells was trying to show in the book: American Exceptionalism from all points of views.
To complement this thought, I have selected the image above which shows a free woman of color with her “quadroon” daughter.
This image would be similar to how Clotel and her mother were seen to others during this time period. However, this is art painted by a person that most likely is of color. If the artist was this would have been painted out quite differently and perhaps not so much of a “pretty picture.”