Slaves in Algiers; or A Struggle for Freedom
by Susanna Haswell Rowson (Author), Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. (Editor), and Karen Poremski, Ph.D. (Editor)
First published in 1794, Slaves in Algiers dramatizes the story of Americans held captive in North Africa. The play uses the existence of white slavery abroad to celebrate the freedoms provided to citizens of the recently constituted United States. Though denigrating Jews and promoting some anti-Semitic stereotypes, Slaves in Algiers insists on equality for women. Best known as the author of the first best-selling American novel, Charlotte Temple (1791), Susanna Haswell Rowson is thought to have written four plays in her lifetime, though the other three are no longer extant.
In the play’s epilogue, the narrator addresses the audience directly to insist on female superiority:
Women were born for universal sway;
Men to adore, be silent, and obey.
Jennifer Margulis and Karen Poremski’s easy-to-read annotated classroom edition includes a detailed introduction and period artwork. It is perfect for undergraduate and graduate students studying American literature, American history, the history of piracy, slavery in the United States, and American drama.