Frederick Douglass is Considered

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Updated: Nov 17, 2019
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Frederick Douglass is Considered essay

Frederick Douglass is considered one of the most brilliant, celebrated writers in African American literary tradition. Often being called the father of the civil rights movement, he rose through the cruelty of slavery with determination, brilliance and strength. Douglass became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which had a vision of putting the practice of slavery to an end. Douglass became a well-known social reformer of his time after giving himself an education and escaping slavery against all odds.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery around 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland. The exact date of his birth is unknown, although later on in his life he chose to celebrate it on February 14. Douglass had no knowledge of his age throughout his life, because it was common for slaves to not know their own age. Masters often kept it this way to keep them their slaves in ignorance to avoid uprising and escaping. His mother was Harriet Bailey, a field slave whom Douglass was separated from at a young age and his father was a white man, who was often rumored to be his master. After his mother was taken and sold to another plantation, Douglass was placed in the care of an older woman, his grandmother. They did this often because it’s meant to destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child.
His first master, Captain Anthony, was not a humane slaveholder.

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He took great pleasure from whipping his slaves and often did it in the middle of the night for fun. It was rumored that Captain Anthony slept with his female slaves and was Douglass’ father. When he got older he was exposed to the horrific, bloody scenes that would often occur on the plantation. Frederick hid in a closet and witnessed his master whip Aunt Hester nearly to death, hearing heart wrenching shrieks and seeing the red blood pour out.

After Douglass encountered the beatings he was broken in body, soul, and spirit, but refused to submit to them a second time. Douglass’ second master, Hugh Auld, owned a plantation in Maryland and caught his wife trying to teach frederick how to read. As soon as he caught them he banned any further lessons and frederick taught himself how to read and write in secret. In 1838 Douglass posed as a sailor and grabbed a train from Baltimore to Philadelphia and soon arrived in New York in less than 24 hours, where he was a free man. He began life as an abolitionist crusader and changed his last name to Bailey to protect his identity from slave catchers. Soon his supporters raised enough money and bought his freedom in the eyes of the law. After spending the rest of his free life writing autobiographies and speaking on abolition, he tragically died on February 20, 1895. After returning home from a National Council of Women meeting in Washington and receiving a standing ovation he suffered from a heart attack at the age of 77.

At the time when the book was published in 1845 Texas was annexed to the United States and became the 28th state in the nation. However due to the issue of slavery in the United States, Congress took little interest in allowing Texas into the union. In the same year the Potato Famine started, often called the Great Famine or the Great Hunger causing widespread starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland. What started in 1845 didn’t end until 1849 and impacted the west and south of Ireland greatly. On November 11, 1845 Douglass delivered an address in Ireland on slavery during the potato famine. He stated that slavery is a question in which every human being ought to feel a deep interest for. Douglass had an great impact on Ireland that overlapped with the beginning of the Potato Famine.

Also at this time, James K Polk was inaugurated as the 11th president of the United States and was a active slaveholder and land speculator. He also frequently searched for profitably opportunities to sale and purchase enslaved African Americans and often called the black enslaved childrens as an it.

A little less than 7 years after he escaped from slavery, Douglass published Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Published in 1845 and was an instant success, he ended up writing multiple revised versions of the book. My Bondage and My Freedom was the second version published in 1855 and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass published in 1881 and an expanded version of Life and Times was published in 1892. His work is the retelling of his story starting from birth, expanding each one from the last and the correlation is evident between key events in history and Douglass’ life.

While reading the book, it’s often found to be quite repulsive, that one human can do such horrible acts to another human. Douglass’ work is definitely effective moving the reader deeply with his strong, emotional story. The preface and the letter from Garrison to Douglass set the mood for the book and prepares you for a new set of emotions to come. The most frequent contentious issue addressed is inequality through race. The effects slavery had on the slaveholder and slave was also controversial, often mentioning how slavery breaks your soul, mind and body. Slave owners often used biblical passages to justify slavery and using their slaves for their own moral health and labor.

Frederick wrote the book to share his story and tell everyone about the cruelty of slavery. Although writing several autobiographies, in his first one Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave he explains his experiences as a slave. At the time when Douglass wrote his autobiographies it was considered a strong political message because slavery was still illegal in most of the united states and it became influential in promoting abolition. Frederick used his writing and oratory skills to fight for the freedom and rights of African

Americans. Douglass’ big message was that slavery was morally wrong and it should be abolished.
Gender, race, and class had a big effect on this piece. Women played a major role in guiding Douglass throughout his life, like helping him escape slavery and confirm his role as an abolitionist.

Most of the time the female slaves were used for master’s personal work in the house and they would often impregnate their female slaves and have children they chose not to recognize as their own. Slavery revolved around race and class, although neither is an element of human biology. Slavery did not just develop because of the need for economic development, the underlying reason had to do with superiority. The white race saw vulnerable people and decided to benefit from them. Not only did the color of their skin decide slavery, it was also the status of the rich dominating the poor. Even though slavery has ended, racism is still evident in today’s society.

This piece relates to what we’ve been talking about in class, the time before the Civil War and the time of enslaved African Americans with the frequent mentioning of the famous Frederick Douglass. By the 1800’s African American slavery was a thriving institution, especially in the South and didn’t come to a end until 1863. The union took measures with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Confiscation Acts, and finally slavery was formally put to an end in 1865 with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment and the end to the Civil War.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is an excellent piece and widely known throughout the world. It was quickly translated into German and French, after selling thousands of copies. The brilliant testimony of a renown american figure and the excellent true story told of an American slave who escaped the cruel reality of what deprived people of their ordinary rights is a significant reason for choosing the book. This Autobiography is important in our history because he showed the people what slavery was really like in the eyes of a slave and the people finally understood why it needs to be abolished.

Thank you Frederick Douglass for providing us with such a monumental piece in american history. It truly affects the people who read it and it changed history as we know it with slavery officially ending in just 20 years after it was written. What a powerful piece of writing this autobiography is, it shows how slavery was a disgusting part of American history and what frederick had to endure daily as an enslaved African American. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is an excellent book and is a must read for everyone.
Douglass became a renown abolitionist and social reformer in the 1800’s against all odds, after giving himself an education and escaping slavery. Douglass’ narrative is one of the best, most famous autobiographies written among us.

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Frederick Douglass Is Considered. (2019, Nov 17). Retrieved from