Fredrick Douglas

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HISR 1103- Survey of American History

February 14, 2013

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass takes place in the year 1845 in Massachusetts. Frederick Douglass, a young slave knows no life outside of the many masters that will own him over the years of his life but dreams of one day escaping the restraints of slavery. Through educating himself and an enduring heart Douglass breaks away to freedom and leaves this narrative outlining the horrors that even the best slavery conditions brought.

The two men who wrote the preface to the narrative of Frederick Douglass are William Garrison, founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society and Wendell Phillips, president of the American Anti-Slavery Society. I think that the publisher though it was so important to include these letters because of the perspective they gave the readers. Hearing the way others at this time speak of Douglass’s story and his views on slavery really allowed readers like myself to gain perspective on the level of respect members of the American Anti-Slavery Society give Douglass.

One key assertion made by both Garrison and Phillips was the point made about Douglass’s ability to be strong. This is honed in on when Garrison said the relationship between Douglass’s head and heart remain firm and credible after being broken down so many times. These letters of Douglass’s work are written so highly of and relates back to why I believe the publisher included these letters in the narrative. The way that these men write about Douglass provides a more open mind for readers to absorb all that the novel offers. Additionally, Garrison and Phillips also write about the state of Maryland which Douglass is enslaved in and how the particular region is less brutal than states such as Georgia, Alabama, or Louisiana. The slavery he experience was brought new perspective to readers who could imagine how it could get any worst for slaves during this time. Phillips says let us gaze on its bright side, if it has one.” This so vividly expresses how even the best of slave conditions were unbearable.

Frederick Douglass spent his childhood as a slave in Maryland. He was subject to harsh conditions such as cold winters without clothing nor a sufficient amount of food. Frederick Douglass’s first master was known as Captain Anthony, and Colonel Lloyd. Anthony was explained as not a relatively wealthy man but owned about thirty slaves and worked for Lloyd. As a boy Douglass watched as Anthony whipped his Aunt repeatedly. This forever scared him knowing that he could do nothing but watch as the horror of slavery went on in front of him. Luckily as a slave child he was not yet strong enough to work in the field so he spent time running errands and aiding Daniel Lloyd in his hunting. At age seven he was transferred to Baltimore. He knew little of what it meant to be in a home or family since most were strangers to him. The only knowledge of his white father were the whispers that he may be his master. The one brother and two sisters of his had no real bond due to the absents of their mother. She died when he was seven and only knew her as the women who sometimes traveled twelve miles on foot at nightfall to visit her children.

Frederick’s next masters were introduced upon his arrival to Baltimore, their name was the Aulds. His transfer to the city opened his eyes to differing conditions there were from the country life. When Douglass spent his youngest years on the country side in Maryland physical conditions were much more painful than those of the city. The city is a place where even slaves were groomed to look more presentable and usually fed well. Mrs. Auld was the first person that brought this realization to light. She was said to be the kindest white woman Douglass ever met. He gushed about her kind heart until as he puts it, “slavery turned it to stone”. His writings of her prior to...
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