Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass has been told his whole life who he was, what he was, and
where he belonged. He was separated from his mother at a very young age. The
family that he knew where his fellow slaves, and most of them were not his real
family. He was led to believe that his father was his master, the man who would
whip him and treat him as property and not as a son. Now a freeman he must
become his own person. Frederick Douglass does not know if he likes chicken or
beef, in a sense. His whole life he was never been given the choice of anything.

He was told that he would eat chicken, and he probably never tasted beef. Now it
was time for him to become a freeman not only in the sense of the words but in
his heart and soul. When he tried to escape the first time, and then was found
out, he feared being left in the prison forever by himself. He feared being
killed, for trying to obtain his freedom. Frederick writes: Immediately after
the holidays were over, contrary to all our expectations, Mr. Hamilton and Mr.

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Freeland came up to Easton, and took Charles, the two Henrys, and John, out
of jail, and carried them home, leaving me alone. I regarded this separation as
a final one. It caused me more pain than any thing else in the whole
transaction. I was ready for anything rather than separation. (304) There we
see that he feared being alone. Which tells us something about his character. He
was ready for anything, except being left in jail and separated from his
surrogate family. That is what these men were to him. They lived together as a
family, and living with another person or four other people you became
aquatinted on a personal basis. They ate, slept, and breathed each other for a
portion of their lives. When they decided to try to escape they were going to do
it together. They trusted each other because each of their lives was in each
persons hands. They had to be very careful of the mannerism in which they
acted. The slightest wrong move or expression would send suspicion upon them,
and cause a whipping or the fear that they might be killed. When he left
Baltimore to make his freedom path to New York City, he was really alone. He did
not even know himself. When he arrived in New York, and was a freeman he wrote
home to a friend and tried to explain how he felt he said, I felt like one
who had escaped a den of hungry lions. (314) Later on he says, he was feeling
diminished and again he was lonely and insecure with his surroundings. He was
afraid to be seized by the masters again. So his wife and himself set off to
find work and a home. How would they know when it was there home or when they
would feel secure and at home? After arriving in New York, Mr. Ruggles told him
that he needed to decide where he wanted to live. How did he expect a slave who
has only been where he has been told to go, and Im sure did not know where he
was half the time to make a decision on where he wanted to make home. However,
he makes a wise decision, he tells Mr. Ruggles that he wants to go where he can
make use of his trade, a chalkier. With a new wife, and only five dollars they
head out to start a life as free people. Even now as a freeman someone else is
deciding upon where they should go. He thought that he should go to Canada, but
was urged against. Even though Mr. Ruggles is helping them, maybe they should
have gone to Canada. It was Fredericks suggestion, and it seems as though he
was intrigued by that idea. Then he was urged otherwise and decided upon a safe
place. The morning after Frederick and Anna arrived in New Bedford, he was told
he would have to pick a name, for the reason that there were so many Johnson
s in Bedford. So what, there must be a hundred Smiths and they dont have
to change their names. Your name is a part of your identity, yet he is being
told that he must do something. He has not been asked whether or not he wants to
change his name, he is being told. Even though we can probably understand the
necessity for this evil, it is another commodity that has probably caused
confusion for him. He talked about the people in Bedford comparing them to the
people in the south. He said that he was disappointed with the appearance of
things. He acquaints them at the same level with the non-slave holding
population of the south. Namely, poor whites. He expected them to be barbaric
because they do not own slave and they do their work for themselves. In a way he
is saying he expected the white people of the north to be unaccustomed and
awkward at the outset of work. If that is all that he has known his whole life
then he cannot be expected to know of any other ways. It is like giving a baby a
set of utensils and expecting him or her to know exactly what to do with them.

He has been place in this setting that is as unfamiliar to him as he is to
himself. When he escaped and arrived in New York City, he had no idea what to
expect. Ultimately, he was scared that as soon as he would arrive in the city,
he would be capture and returned to his life of imprisonment. The year 1838 was
a turning point in his life. He makes his way down a path that holds his future
or his death, he marries a woman whom is his intended wife who he hardly
knows, and he heads out to Bedford to find a place where he can find out who he
really is. Now, as discussed previously, the condition of the people and
surroundings astonishes him, because he never saw whites carry on in this
manner. Or even allow they to live in such a manner. He also said I found the
colored people much more spirited than I had supposed they would be,(319), so
far everything that has been witnessed by Frederick Douglass has been not what
he has expected. He talked of the gentleman who threatened a colored man to let
his master know of his where about, However that notion was shortly thrown out,
upon the threat upon the informants life. Here Frederick Douglass did not have
to live in fear that he would be kidnapped and returned, and he could live
contently and happily. Even though this may take some getting used to, it was
there right in front of him just waiting for him to grab it, and he did, when he
took his life into his own hands just to be a freeman. Something that millions
of people take for granted every day in this society. After three days of being
in Bedford, Frederick Douglass found work in oil, but it did not matter. Now,
all the money he made was his. From the start of his life in the work force, up
until now, he worked so people, who do not know what hard work is, could live.

Every Saturday he would march himself to his masters door, and the little bit of
money that he made, his six or eight dollars, was turned over to a man who did
not lift a finger to earn it. From this moment on every penny that was handed to
him went into his pocket. There were no more Saturdays of giving to someone
else; he could now give to himself and his family. He became a man, in every
sense of the word. Frederick Douglass was not going to receive any more
whippings because his earnings for the week were not enough to satisfy some fat
cat. Now that his money was his own and he did not have to answer to anyone as
to where he wanted to go, it is now time for him to find out who he really is.

When it comes to dinner would he rather have that chicken or beef? Maybe, in a
way by writing this narrative he is expressing himself. He is letting the people
who read this see that even though people can make excuses for slavery it is a
form of imprisonment. These masters take the lives of other human beings
and make them what they want them to be. They work them to the bone, do not feed
them, poorly clothe them, allow them to live in conditions that most people
would not let there dog be exposed to, and yet they think that this was ok. If
after reading the life of a slave, how could u even condone these actions? How
could you sleep at night knowing that there were people out there who were being
beaten if they, in the slightest manner, made a wrong move? Yes, they did have
the abolitionists, but they only did so much. The Underground Railroad
allowed for some safe passage to the north, but they needed the courage to leave
everything behind. The slaves that were left behind were made an example out of
so they could scare the others into not running away for a better life.

Frederick Douglass was not scared anymore; he made it perfectly clear that we
needed to read about the truth. America, which was supposed to be a free
country, was only free to those who were not property. If you were a black man
you had a collar with identification tags like the dogs or you were branded with
the initials of your master and that was who you were. You were not Frederick
Douglass; you were the property of Captain Aaron Anthony or Mr. Hugh. In 1845
this narrative was published, and he first visited Europe, England, why there,
why not right here where the problem was. He had to go across an ocean to get to
people who were willing to listen to his message of freedom. It is ironic that
he went to England, the land that America fought for freedom from. Our
forefathers wanted a better life for us, they wanted us to have life, liberty,
and happiness, and here we are depriving thousands of people that because of the
color of there skin. The logic here is missing a beat. Everything that every
American was striving for, we deprived these people of, something is just not
right there.


English Essays

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass the most successful abolitionist who changed America’s views of slavery through his writings and actions. Frederick Douglass had many achievements throughout his life. His Life as a slave had a great impact on his writings. His great oratory skills left the largest impact on Civil War time period literature. All in all he was the best black speaker and writer ever. Douglass was born a slave in 1817, in Maryland.

He educated himself and became determined to escape the horror of slavery. He attempted to escape slavery once, but failed. He later made a successful escape in 1838. Frederick’s life as a slave had the greatest impact on his writings. Through slavery, he was able to develop the necessary emotion and experiences for him to become a successful abolitionist writer. He grew up as a slave, experiencing all of the hardships that are included, such as whippings, scarce meals, and other harsh treatment.

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His thirst for freedom , and his burning hatred of slavery caused him to write Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, and other similar biographies. In his Narrative, he wrote the complete story of his miserable life as a slave and his strife to obtain freedom. The main motivational force behind his character (himself) was to make it through another day so that someday he might see freedom. The well written books that he produced were all based on his life. They all started with Douglass coping with slavery.

He had a reason to write these works. As a die-hard abolitionist, He wanted to show the world how bad slavery really was. He did this really well, because he made people understand the unknown, and made abolitionists out of many people. This man had a cause, as well as a story to tell (Schomp, 25). Douglass, as a former slave, single-handedly redefined American Civil War literature, simply by redefining how antislavery writings were viewed.

Frederick Douglass is well known for many of his literary achievements. He is best known, now, as a writer. As a writer, Frederick Douglass shined. As a speaker, he was the best. There was no abolitionist, black or white, that was more for his speaking skills. (McFeely, 206) So impressive were Frederick Douglass’s oratorical and intellectual abilities that opponents refused to believe that he had been a slave and alleged that he was a impostor brought up on the public by the abolitionists.

In reply, Douglass wrote Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1845), which he revised in later years: in final form, it appeared in 1882 under the title Life and Times Of Frederick Douglass. (Graves, 52 ) Frederick’s oratory skills left the largest impact on Civil War time period literature. Douglass’s most significant autobiographical works include: Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: My Bondage And My Freedom: and Life And Times Of Frederick Douglass. These three books are about the same person, and share a similar message, but are written by Frederick at different times of his life, looking at the past in different ways. In Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, Douglass used a simple, yet educated way to show how he felt as a slave growing up in Maryland. He describes in the Narrative I have often been so pinched with hunger as to dispute with old Nep, the dog, for the crumbs which fell from the kitchen table. (Douglass, 34) Douglass’s Narrative was known as being a brief, descriptive (like his statement in the above lines), and easy to read piece of literature. It showed the hardships of slavery as seen by a real slave.

I remember thinking that God was angry with the white people because of their slave holding wickedness, and therefore his judgments were abroad in the land (Douglass, 89) Douglass became educated through his own means. Knowledge was truly a blessing for Frederick. Without knowledge, he never would have achieved freedom. With knowledge, he realized the importance of freedom. This gave him desire and a goal, but most of all, hope. Without knowledge, he would never have been the man he was when he was free. He could express the problems and the solutions of slavery in a convincing, educated manner.

This made him more than a cheap source of labor in the North. Learning to read and write was a challenge simply because the resources were not there. He used wit and good natured cunning to trick local school boys into teaching him the alphabet. If he had never sought knowledge, he would never been able to write any of his autobiographies which live on even today as important accounts of slavery. Also, without knowledge, he would not have become an American legend like he is today.

After writing his Narrative he wrote another biography in 1855, My Bondage And My Freedom. This autobiography had quite a bit more content than the Narrative. It is a look at slavery from Douglass, both more mature as a person, and as a writer. Also, he reflects on his life as a slave in more detail. My Bondage And My Freedom also gives readers an update to Narrative that includes Douglass’s life as a free man.

In 1881, Life And Times Of Frederick Douglass was published. This was Douglass’s final autobiography with the expectation of a larger edition that was issued in 1892. It is the life and times, as the title suggests, of Douglass’s entire life. Many people found it to be the same material as the other two, and less enjoyable to read. Its time had passed-or so thought the public, which did not buy it (McFeely, 311).

This book included Frederick’s life as a slave, as well as a free man, well known speaker, and respected diplomat. The book’s real message—which few people received—was that the story of slavery should not be purged from the nation’s memory. White America wanted to hear no more of the subject; emancipation had been taken care of. Many black Americans, reacting to this weariness, had become almost apologetic about their slave past. (Herschler 105) Frederick also had another abolitionist publication, North Star. Rather than a book, North Star was an abolitionist newspaper. He edited the antislavery newspaper for sixteen years. After the abolition of slavery, the paper became less important and eventually stopped being published.

Frederick Douglass played a major role in the redefinition of American literature in the Civil War time period. Abolitionism was a very important thing in many people’s lives, and not only ex-slaves. But, with Douglass having been a slave, he had a very good reason to fight for the abolitionist movement. In the South, abolitionists were as common as snow, and did not affect the literature or lifestyles of those people very much. In the north, however it was more of a standard of practice.

(Schomp, 78) after all, the north was where slaves dreamed to escape to. The antislavery campaign was a popular subject for successful writers of this time period. Frederick was the best black speaker and writer ever. His success came from his fight against slavery. Being a former slave, he had a very good reason to participate in the antislavery movement.

He wrote three significant autobiographies that helped define the way literature developed during the Civil War time period. These three autobiographies: Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; My Bondage And My Freedom; and Life And Times Of Frederick Douglass, are the works that are seen to express a nation’s disappointment for the treatment of slaves in the south. The works document the rise of a slave to a free man, to a respected speaker, to a famous writer and politician. These works do not stand alone, though. Frederick also was famous for his abolitionist speeches.

He successfully published an abolitionist newsletter, the North Star. All of Douglass’s achievements combines with his great literature to redefine the writings of the time. After reading any of his works, one might realize just how important Frederick Douglass was to the abolitionist movement. He changed many people’s lives, and helped to earn the respect of African American’s, as well as whites today. He most definitely has my respect and will live on in my mind as the most successful abolitionist ever.

Bibliography REFERENCES Douglass, Frederick. Escape From Slavery, Alfred A. Knopf, 1994 Douglass, Frederick. Life And Times Of Frederick Douglass, Rowell-Collier Company, 1892 Graves, Charles P. Frederick Douglass, Longmans Canada Limited, 1970 Herschler, Mildred. Frederick Douglass, Follett Publishing Company, 1969 McFeely, William S.

Frederick Douglass, W.W. Norton And Company, 1991 Biographies.

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