Frederick Douglass’s Life In The City And Country

963 words - 4 pages

Slavery was abundant in the cities of the South, as well as the countryside. The roles of urban slaves varied greatly from plantation slaves. Frederick Douglass’ move to the city was the turning point in his life and without his move to the city, Fredrick Douglass would not have been the famous abolitionist and writer we know of today. Urban slaves typically partook in household, artisan or factory positions, while slaves from the plantation generally were out in the fields or doing some other agricultural work. Because Baltimore was a port city, during his time living there, Douglass had the opportunity of learning and working the trade of ship caulking, which is a type of artisan work. Urban slavery provided, most of the time, an easier life for a slave. Generally, a slave from the city would be better clothed, fed, and would avoid most of the physical abuse suffered by the rural slave. When Douglass lived as a slave in Baltimore, he was always well fed and clothed. Urban slavery also offered more opportunities to escape.due to the white abolitionists and free blacks that were there to help slaves escape to freedom. Douglass was able to successfully with the help of kind whites escape the shackles of freedom and go to the North. Frederick's life in the city shaped him into the powerful speaker and writer we know today.
Most slaves in the country, as people well know, worked as field hands and jobs involving the crops and livestock, with the exception of the house slaves. In the city however, slaves worked different types of jobs. “City slaves were typically artisans and craftsmen, stevedors and draymen, barbers and common laborers, and house and hotel servants.” (Starobin 9). Frederick Douglass worked as a house servant and as a ship caulker. He excelled at ship caulking and was able to make a large sum of money for his owner. Frederick Douglass was not so talented at field hand work in the country. “I was now, for the first time in my life, a field hand. In my new employment, I found myself even more awkward than a country boy appeared to be in a new city”(Douglas 90). Douglass was not accustomed to plantation life after so many years spent in the city, which caused him to be whipped and beat for his lack of skill. The difference in work made Douglass suffer, and helped him come to the conclusion that he had to escape slavery.
Slaves in the city were generally treated better than slaves on plantations. Because their were many abolitionists in the city, slave owners usually made sure slavery did not look as bad. “The quality and amount of food were better, and housing was perhaps more comfortable” (Starobin 9). This was true for Douglass, for his owners in the...

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