The Hypocrisy Of American Slavery, Through The Eyes Of Frederick Douglass

1674 words - 7 pages

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself is a powerful book in many respects. Douglass invites you to vicariously witness the monstrous atrocities he experienced during the antebellum period; a time when said atrocities were not only encouraged, but looked highly upon. Throughout his narrative, Douglass expresses his exponentially growing anger and fortitude. When the reader arrives at The Appendix, it soon becomes that much more apparent that the vice of slavery that is most troublesome to him, is the curtain of pseudo-Christianity surrounding it. Why did Douglass, against the advice of his publisher, decide to include this radical piece? Douglass was adamant about including The Appendix so he could display the ignorance under the veil of American Christianity and the resulting level of power that ensued from adhering to its beliefs. American Christianity during Douglass’ time was completely different from what is thought of as Christianity today.
During the Antebellum period in America, the country’s thoughts were changing drastically. Escape from religious persecution was a key player in many minds when choosing to come to America and so it became a melting pot simmering with multiple thoughts and ideals. The European Protestants, Roman Catholics, and African American religions were forced to intermingle and the unique qualities of each were particularly useful in the establishment of personal validity (Fox 201, 202). After the American Revolution, most Republicans argued that churches, “brandished superstitious dogmas and mysteries that kept people in the dark about the rational capacities of their own minds” (Fox 159). On the flip side of this, “a few Republicans such as Thomas Jefferson and especially James Madison contended, state churches interfered in the sacred, one-on-one encounter between the believer and God (Fox 159). From this it is apparent that the separation of church and state is vital. It was a widely accepted view to hold Jesus as divine; to view him as human was extreme and looked down upon. One can see this by the fall of Thomas Paine, a believer in Jesus as being human, after writing The Age of Reason. Paine and Douglass are not a far cry from one another: though their publications were around sixty years apart, both desired to detoxify religion in America. So how did an ideal such as Christianity in America become so convoluted, so manipulated, that the human conscience would allow something as horrific as slavery to endure? Acts in the name of Jesus are not new thought processes and their longevity is unparalleled. The manipulation of these acts, however, has been one of the most heavily relied upon validations of human barbarism in history.
American Christianity reigned over slavery as the British once did over the colonies. “For the first time Christ was assuming the mantle of social advocate in addition to that of ethical teacher or holy redeemer”...

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