My Thoughts on Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was a book that really opened my eyes. Frederick Douglass was born a slave. He was what they called a mixed slave because his father was most likely their master, Captain Anthony. Mixed slaves tended to get treated more cruelly than other slaves. It was really common for masters to impregnate and fornicate with their slaves. Douglass started his slavery in the household, since he was just a kid. He was then later traded to Hugh Auld, who lived in the city. It is said that city-slave owners were not as cruel as plantation slave owners.
There was one plantation slave owner that Frederick said was the cruelest of them all and his name was Mr. Severe. Frederick said that slavery corrupts slave owners and this statement is true because Douglass’ owner Sophia Auld, wife to Hugh Auld, was really kind to him in the beginning, so kind that Douglass was shocked. He figured that this kindness would soon fade to the fatal poison of slavery, this it did. Sophia Auld taught him the alphabet and how to put words together. Her kindness soon went away when Hugh Auld put her in place and stated, If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell.
A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the worldif you teach that nigger how to read, there would be no keeping him.(20) However, this did not stop Frederick from learning. Sophia made him want to pursue his education. Frederick’s own strive made him learn how to read and write. Eventually, he became conscious of the true meaning of slavery and that meaning being that it is pure evil. Frederick eventually escaped to the North, but was in a constant turmoil of owner to owner. One owner, Covey, made Frederick lose his desire to learn because he was being constantly beaten and whipped. It got to the point where Frederick had enough and fought back.
This fight lasted 2 hours and Covey never touched Frederick again. Frederick then began to educate himself and others when his slave owner was Freeland, this was Frederick’s nicest and favorite slave owner. Douglass eventually escaped, once again, but this time it was for good. He escaped to New York on September 3, 1838. He was afraid that he would get caught so he changed his name from Bailey to Douglass. Soon after, he married Anna Murray and moved to Massachusetts where he became engaged with the abolitionist movement, did his first speech, Nantucket, about slavery, and much more.
What we all can learn from this narrative is that perseverance is key. Despite everything that Douglass went through, he kept fighting. The phrase, It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up, was strongly prevalent in this narrative. Douglass had a lot of hardships and suffered tremendously, but through it all he continued his education. And against all odds he taught others kids how to read and write and later, finally freed himself from his evil (slavery).
Frederick Douglass is a significant figure in United States history. Frederick Douglass is frequently called, the father of the civil rights movement. Douglass dedicated his life to achieving justice for African-Americans, women, and minorities. Douglass had many ways of actively working towards his cause, an example of this being his newspaper, The Northern Star which served as a voice for the African-American opinion. Not only this, but he also played a very significant role in the civil war. He served as a consultant to President Lincoln and persuaded him to include slaves in the union forces.
Even though President Lincoln and other political leaders were hesitant about including African-American soldiers in the civil war, Douglass worked endlessly to achieve this goal. For two years, he persistently wrote in his other publication, The Douglass Monthly, spoke publicly to many audiences, and wrote letters to influential people to accomplish the incorporation of African-Americans in the union Army.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, African-Americans were allowed to enlist in the Union Forces. However, Douglass did not stop there. Additionally, he convinced President Lincoln that the ultimate goal of the Civil War was to abolish slavery. Even though Douglass devoted his life to abolishing slavery, his work did not stop after the 13th amendment. Douglass’ fought for the rights of minorities until the day he died, as he died from a major heart attack after coming home from a women’s rights meeting. Without Douglass’ influence on the people of the United States, history could have ended very differently. It is because of Douglass’ perseverance that many people today have the rights that they have.
If Frederick Douglass was still alive today, I believe that the message that he would have for us is that we oversee our own destiny. His life serves testimony to this statement. Against all odds, Douglass was able to educate himself and become one of the most influential writers, orators and journalists that history has seen. Douglass believed that individual transformations beginning with one’s self, would have a lasting positive effect on society as a whole.
I believe that he would be very proud of how far we have come, even coming to see the first African-American president Barack Obama. However, I believe that Frederick Douglass would also say that we must keep going, we must continue to educate ourselves, especially today. Frederick Douglass would not be proud of the current political climate. I am sure that he would encourage us to fight for what we believe is moral, even if you receive backlash for it. As Frederick Douglass wrote in his narrative, I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I suppressed the opinion.(19)