Frederick Douglass - Avoiding the Whip for an Afternoon

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In Chapter II of his 'Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave', Frederick Douglass tells us of his time at Colonel Lloyd's home plantation, where he kept three to four hundred slaves. In addition, he owned neighboring farms and a large number more slaves on those farms. The home plantation was a sort of base of operations, "the great business place" or the "seat of government for the whole twenty farms." It was there that disputes were settled and slaves were severely disciplined for wrongdoing before being shipped off to Baltimore. Slaves called this home plantation the 'Great House Farm'. It was where they went for their annual allowance, and where all mechanical operations for all of the farms took place, from shoemaking and blacksmithing to weaving and grain-grinding. When a slave from one of the other farms was asked to do an errand to the Great House Farm, it was looked upon in very high regard. Not only did it mean the slave was considered trustworthy and loyal, but it gave him a respite, however briefly, from the lashing whip of the overseer. Running an errand such as this may not seem special to the free man, but for these slaves it was a coveted responsibility. Douglass makes an interesting comparison between selection for this errand and election to government office. "A representative could not be prouder of his election to a seat in the American Congress, than a slave on one of the out-farms would be of his election to do errands at the Great House Farm." What an honor and a privilege, to be sure you will not be whipped or beaten for an entire afternoon! What does this comparison say about our Congress? Rich, white men who covet a position in the government cannot begin to know the horrors they themselves have inflicted on an entire race of humans. Perhaps Douglass felt the oppressors were slaves to the country in their own way. However, while you can compare the honor of this errand with election, can you ever...
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