Douglass’s Intended Audience

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Updated: Nov 21, 2019
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Douglass’s Intended Audience essay

Because of Douglass’s intended audience was the uneducated Northerners, I feel like his narrative shaped every aspect of his writing. He had to be very in depth and descriptive. Douglass needed to be able to prove to the Northerners that slavery was in fact a horrible thing. His narrative was his own accounts, his real feelings and his real hardships that he endured while being enslaved. He draws a perfect picture of what it was like to be living in the south during slavery. Before his account of what happened, they were only provided of things written by the slaveholders and masters-which could be perceived as biased.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Audience

In the south during slavery, there were many aspects in which account for who held slaves, who was a nicer master and who was down right cruel. Slavery was all economics. The slaveholder with the most slaves was the wealthiest. The wealthiest person could have control over other slaveholders. Because of this chain of command’ many slaveholders would beat their slaves if they were not listening to them. Douglass got a first hand look at just how cruel these beatings can be.

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During his quest for freedom, Douglass came across a few hardships. In the beginning, having to watch his first overseer beat his Aunt Hester can do a lot of damage to a young boys mental stability. It was all new to me. I had never seen any thing like it before. [5] Aunt Hester was not the only one he watched get beaten, and bloody. Besides having to watch so many beatings, he had to overcome moving from one master to another. The master who he endured the most was with Mr. Covey. I had been at my new home but one week before Mr. Covey gave me a severe whipping, cutting my back, and causing the blood to run. [35]

The next attribute to Frederick’s hardships was the lack of clothes, and food. I suffered much from hunger but much more from cold. In the hottest summer and coldest winter I was kept almost naked. [16] Slaves were given an allowance once a year, of clothes, which only provided them with one of each item (one pair of shoes, trousers, socks, jacket, and a linen shirt), though children were not regularly allowanced. The food choice for children was corn meal, this was called mush. [16] Slave children were treated as if they were farm animals. It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs. [16]

Because of Frederick Douglass’s perseverance, he was soon awarded with being able to move to Baltimore. Frederick was overjoyed with the news! Upon his arrival to the Ault’s house, he was struck with a white face beaming the most kindly emotions. [18] This would be the turning point for Douglass. On page 18, he states that, going to Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity. [18]

During the time Douglass was with the Auld’s, Mrs. Auld taught Frederick the alphabet and how to spell words of three or four letters. It wasn’t soon after the lessons that Mr. Auld found out and banished Mrs. Auld from teaching anything further. If you teach that nigger how to read there would be no keeping him. [20] Teaching slaves to read and write was dangerous, as they could then understand things they couldn’t before, it could also help them in becoming free. This would not put a stop to Douglass’s reading journey. Though it proved difficult, he continued to teach himself.

Frederick would round up all of the white boys and make friends with them. In making friends, he then used them as teachers. He also would take his book with him to everything he had to do, in hopes of finishing early enough to study before having to return. He had high hopes in learning to write, in hopes of writing his own pass for freedom one day. With tedious study habits, and never giving up, Douglass also learned how to write.

While he was teaching himself to learn, Frederick Douglass learned about the songs that were sung on the plantations. It wasn’t until after he was free that he learned of the real meaning of those songs. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. [9] This particular quote says that the songs bring back horrible thoughts and memories. He believes that these songs hold a deeper message than what is being sung about. These songs that they sing seem to be that they are happy, which Douglass makes clear in the reading that slavery is far from happiness.

The following punishment creates manhood for this endearing slave. The battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave. [43] When Douglass stood up for himself against cruel Mr. Covey; it proved that he had matured from a boy into a man. He had started to erupt into what he is foreseen as in the future as an abolitionist against slavery. Douglass put his foot down and would not let Mr. Covey torment him any longer.

I have said that this mode of treatment is a part of the whole system of fraud and inhumanity of slavery. [45] Holidays for slaves weren’t holidays at all. They were not required to perform any labor, yet were made to be fools by requiring the slaves to get drunk on Christmas. There were even bets for who could drink the most whiskey. After the holidays, and after what the slaveholders wanted to deceive as freedom, it was back to work as usual for the slaves.

Once again, Douglass had switched masters; this time it was Mr. Freeland. He had two other slaves as well as Frederick. Only being there a little while, Frederick had lit a flame amongst the other slaves. They too wanted to learn to read. With the help of Frederick and another free slave (whom was not mentioned) Douglass held a Sabbath School. I had at one time over forty scholars. [48] The days in which he was teaching were pronounced, great days to my soul. [48] These days would ensure that Douglass had people to confine in and discuss future plans of freedom.

Continuous plans dealing with Frederick and his fellow slaves freedom had been planned. He sought after the water route, as it was less liable to be suspected for runaways. The week before our intended start, I wrote several protections, one for each of us. [51] These protections were to be written by slaveholders to ensure that they could in fact, leave the area to go to Baltimore for the Easter holidays. They were written simply to protect them while on the bay. Upon them trying to escape, the slaves were caught and thrown in Easton Jail.
Finally, on September 3rd, 1838; Frederick Douglass left his chains and made his way to New York! I have been frequently asked how I felt when I found myself in a free state. [63] His reaction was one that would not shock anyone. I felt like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions. [63]

Though his freedom was not all butterflies and cotton candy. There were hard times. Frederick was lonely; he had no friends, no home, and nowhere to go. There was a kind hearted fellow named, Mr. Ruggles who took Frederick into his home. Mr. Ruggles told Frederick that, it was unsafe for me to remain in New York. [65] He took this into consideration and wrote to his future wife, Anna. She joined him shortly after his arrival and they were to be married by Rev. J.W.C. Pennington. Frederick and Anna were wed on September 15, 1838. The newly wedded couple packed up their belongings and set out for New Bedford. Though, New Bedford was not what they had hoped. They had no wealth and uncultivated populations. He then went on to speak to the people of New Bedford about anti-slavery and became known as a liberator.

When thinking about Douglass’s Narrative as a source for American slavery, I believe it can withstand the test of time. Although many narratives can be exaggerated, and many could be re-written countless times and everything could be mixed around or changed, we have to remember that these are first hand accounts of what was happening during that time.

Because Douglass gives such thorough information and backs up every piece of evidence, I believe it is one of the more rare pieces found on slavery. Douglass uses real names; real places, real dates and that cannot be subjected for alteration. Douglass states, With what success, and with what devotion, I leave those acquainted with my labors to decide. [69] He wanted to persuade us into his beliefs, he wanted to entertain us with his stories, and he ultimately wanted to inform us about slavery and how awful it was.

To conclude, if I were a white northerner in 1845, there are several things that would make me want to work for the abolition of slavery. In the text it states that children didn’t get fed properly, nor were they clothed properly for harsh winters and summers. I am very surprised at the fact that any of these slaves made it out alive.

Another thing that would move me to abolish slavery is the beating of women by men. I could see in slavery a women beating a women, but a man is much more powerful than a women. These actions make me sick to my stomach just thinking about them. There were several accounts of cruel and unusual punishment throughout the novel. There are parts in which make you want to go back into time and take care of these unlawful slaveholders yourself. Frederick Douglass lived to be one of the most influential and empowering people to this day, without his eye-witness reports and documentation, we might not have ever been able to add his accounts to what we think was slavery.

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Douglass's Intended Audience. (2019, Nov 21). Retrieved from