Frederick Douglass And Henry David Thoreau

1651 words - 7 pages

Frederick Douglass was an American slave.  Henry David Thoreau was a writer from the 17th  century.  The narrative read about Frederick Douglass was about his life as a slave, and how it changed as time went on, including his eventual release from enslavement.  The article about Henry Thoreau was in regards to the theory of Civil Disobedience, and his role in the creation of that theory.

 

      Frederick Douglass lived from 1817 until 1895.  He was a slave in Maryland, and was under the custody of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Auld.  Mrs. Auld helped Frederick learn to read, which set the foundation for the person he became.  With the ability to read, he began to educate himself, which led to his eventual freedom.  Douglass concluded that slavery had a negative effect on both parties involved, and the political system of this country was unjust.  Many laws, unjust laws, were passed in the late 1700's and the early 1800's to prevent the ability of slaves to seek freedom.  Douglass wrote an autobiography and avoided being captured for it by speaking on tour in Great Britain and Ireland.  Upon returning to the United States, he founded an abolitionist paper publication, for which he was nationally acclaimed, in Rochester, New York.  During the Civil War, Douglass somehow convinced Lincoln to further the war effort by releasing slaves, and in 1863, Lincoln gave his famous Emancipation Proclamation.  With these and other efforts, Frederick Douglass became the first African American to have an influence in the government, and become a national figure.

 

      Henry David Thoreau lived from 1817 until 1962.  He graduated from Harvard in 1837, and began keeping a journal.  He was a writer who was in a group of writers and thinkers referred to as the Transcendentalists.  According to the article, the Transcendentalists believed in something that transcended the limits of sensory experience.  This means something that transcended materialism.  Their philosophical idealism was exhibited in the writings The Walden, and "Civil Disobedience," which was published as "Resistance to Civil Government."  Thoreau set out to undo the laws created for slavery.  He felt it was "...appropriate and imperative to disobey unjust laws," (pg. 142).  He strongly opposed slavery, and because he helped slaves escape to Canada, he was a criminal.  He disobeyed the Fugitive Slave Act, which to him was an unjust law.  One effect Thoreau's writings had on the future was the fact that it supported those men who wanted to dodge the draft, because they were opposed to war.  He did not support anything he felt was unjust, and often times ended up in prison, and all his efforts were recorded in his journal.

 

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