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Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave

1598 words - 6 pages

From before the country’s conception to the war that divided it and the fallout that abolished it, slavery has been heavily engrained in the American society. From poor white yeoman farmers, to Northern abolitionist, to Southern gentry, and apathetic northerners slavery transformed the way people viewed both their life and liberty. To truly understand the impact that slavery has had on American society one has to look no further than those who have experienced them firsthand. Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and advocate for the abolitionist, is on such person. Douglass was a living contradiction to American society during his time. He was an African-American man, self-taught, knowledgeable, well-spoken, and a robust writer. Douglass displayed a level of skill that few of his people at the time could acquire. With his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Written by Himself, Douglass captivated the people of his time with his firsthand accounts into the horror and brutality that is the institution of slavery.
A staunch abolitionist, Douglass would take the country by storm through the power of his words and writings. His narrative was unique in regards to how it was written and the content it holds. Unlike most biographies of freed slaves, Douglass would write his own story and with his own words. His narrative would attempt to understand the effects slavery was having on not just the slaves, but the slaveholders as well. The success of his biography, however, did not rest on the amount of horror in it but from the unmistakable authenticity it provided. His narrative would compel his readers to take action with graphic accounts of the lashes slaves would receive as punishment, “the louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped the hardest.” The narrative would anger the abolitionist with its depiction of the suffering of children who were barely clothed and fed like animals, “The children unable to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets, nor trousers, given to them; their clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year.” His biopic served as a reminder that the struggles during his time were very real and in need of much support from both men and women living in both Free and Slave states.
Douglass was born in Tolbot County, Maryland in 1818. He was the son Harriet Baily a slave of Colonel Lloyd. Because of laws established in Maryland, “…the children of slave women shall in all cases follow the condition of their mothers” , Douglass was thus born a slave. Immediately upon his birth Douglass was already affected by slavery; even more so when as an infant he was separated from his mother. Douglass’ speculation is that the separation is to blunt the affection between the mother and child. He himself gives an example on how he took his mother’s death, “…I received the tidings of her death with much of the same emotions I should have...

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