The his statements. Douglass refused to accept anything less

The Narrative of the Life
of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave was written by Frederick Douglass
himself. He was born into slavery in Tuckahoe, Maryland. He has, “…no
accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing
it”. He became acknowledged as a fluent speaker for the cause of the
abolitionists. He was a slave himself until he escaped from Maryland, he was
able to say very impassioned speeches about the role of the slave holders and
the slaves. Many Northerners tried to discredit his tales, but no one was ever
able to contradict his statements. 

            Douglass refused to accept anything less than his
spiritual, physical, and intellectual freedom. According to Douglass, their
masters said they were not worth it, they made it hard for them to get
literate. The slaves were forbidden from attaining any sort of education for
the fear that they will gain understanding, and rebel against them. The masters
feared that if the slaves got education, they will become unmanageable and
thus, could not allow them to get any education. Douglass gives readers
information of the pain, brutality, and humiliation of the slaves. Throughout
the Narrative,
Douglass reveals how slaves were denied simple concepts that provided them with
the means of constructing valid identities. For example, Douglass mentions at
the beginning of the Narrative that slaves rarely knew when they were born, as
“it is the wish of most masters . . . to keep their slaves thus
ignorant.” Knowing one’s birth date, in a sense, gives one a mainly human
identity. Slaveholders denied even this basic knowledge to keep slaves from
rebelling on them and keep them as slaves. Throughout the narrative, Douglass
describes the many ways in which slaveholders withheld information from slaves
in order to keep them from having a basic understanding of themselves.
            Frederick Douglass was born a
slave, he was able to notice and detail the master’s cruelty into which he was
subjected. Frederick Douglass was whipped and humiliated daily, “a very
severe whipping… for being awkward”, yet he was able to do his own work
and save some money, “I was able to command the highest wages given to the
most experienced” , he is able to give the reader a more true picture of
slavery. His emotional speeches raised the rage of many Northerners, yet many
still felt the slaves earned their position in life. Douglass illustrates in
his narrative that slave owners continuously denied the humanity of their
slaves in order to validate their ownership of human beings. To prove
themselves that their slaves are not human, they treated them inhumanely. Douglass
discussed how his master used religion to prop up his barbarism. Frederick’s owner
was usually most brutal towards Henny, the lame young woman who worked in the
kitchen. He often whipped her mercilessly because she was the weakest she had
been burned and could barely use her hands which gave the master more of a
reason to treat her wrongfully.

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            Mrs. Auld was the person who helped Douglass. Mrs. Auld was less cruel
than many of the other southerners mentioned in the autobiography. She taught
him his ABCs but the husband did want her to teach him, he warned Mrs. Auld that
the young slave will become uncontrollable and unfit to be a slave if he became
literate. Douglass instantly became determine to learn to read. He achieves
this by make friends with the young white Baltimore street boys and stealing
lessons from them in his free time. To learn how to write, he studied the
letters at the shipyard and worked in his master’s son’s copybooks when the
family was not around. Literacy gave Douglass exactly what Master Auld had
feared. Frederick Douglas wanted to be Independent, and the yearning to be
free. When Douglass was literate he was no longer happy to be a slave. He
became restless and disconcerted. However, literacy also gave him the ability
to create relationships with his colleague slaves. At Freeland’s farm he gave
lessons to nearly forty slaves, enlightening their lives vastly. Literacy was
Douglass’s first step to someday become a free slave.

            Douglass first hears the term “abolition” when
he is living in Baltimore. Interested, the young slave tries to learn the
meaning. He ultimately he succeeds when he gets some of the city newspapers and
reads about the current political events to end the slavery in Washington, DC. In
his autobiography he says that the words “abolition” and
“abolitionist” were eye-catching to him. He read of emancipation
in The Columbian Orator. It was not until he relocated himself to
New Bedford after he escaped slavery, however, that he was really able to
embrace the abolitionist ideology and cause. He started to read William Lloyd
Garrison’s “The Liberator,” writing “the paper became my meat
and drink. My soul was set all on fire. Its sympathy for my brethren in
bonds…sent a thrill of joy through my soul…” At the end of the text
Douglass explains that he was going to an anti-slavery convention in Nantucket
when he was asked to speak. He anxiously took the stage and began talking. Douglass
wrote, that that’s where he began his long career in “pleading the cause
of my brethren”

            Douglass traveled along with Garrison and other people,
speaking nearly every day on the discrimination and brutality of slavery.
Douglass met so many unfriendly oppositions and, most of the time they charged
him that he was lying. Many Americans did not believe that a fluent and
intelligent Negro had been a slave.

            Douglass used real names in his narrative so he had to leave the United States, because
his Maryland “owner” was legally allowed to track him down in Massachusetts and
reclaim him.  Douglass did not want to reveal how he escaped in order to
prevent harm from coming to those who helped him, or make it more difficult for
those blacks who might escape the same ways. He went back to the United States
only after two English friends bought his freedom. Douglass continued to
write and talk about being against slavery and also showed interest in the
women’s rights movement. Douglass made the aim of the war to abolish slavery
and then to allow black men to fight for the Union. He was successful on both
fronts, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and Congress authorized
the enlistment of black men.


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