My Bondage and My Freedom

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Frederick Douglas’s My Bondage and My Freedom and the 1800s
American literature has always been greatly influenced by what the author experiences in his life, and it is very evident in lots of American writing. During the 1800s, slavery was a big influence on literature in America, especially for slaves because if they were literate, slavery was most likely the only thing they had to write about. Frederick Douglas’s autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom, is reflective of slavery during the 1800s because of his description of the terrible life of a slave and adapting to life after slavery.

Africans were being brought to America from the sixteenth century until the nineteenth century to be used as slaves for Americans. The 1800s were when slavery really began to be fought hard against, mainly in the north, leading to the Civil War, and, in 1865, the abolishment of slavery (Documenting the American South). Slaves escaped their owners before the Civil War using the Underground Railroad. This was a group of people who would secretly aid the slaves and let them pass through their houses, so they could get north and away from slavery. Life as a slave was incredibly difficult because most of them were not even treated like human beings (Documenting the American South). They were threatened and punished for small mistakes, and their owners did not want them to learn to read or write for fear of them getting the idea to run away. Douglas described his life as a slave through the first twenty chapters of his autobiography. When Douglas was a slave, he was treated very poorly just like almost every other slave in America. He got beaten and witnessed the death of his mother and the whipping of his Aunt Esther. After Douglas gets sent to his second owner he says, “I had been treated as a pig on the plantation; I was treated as a child now” (p 141). He felt as if he wasn’t even treated as a human which was common among many slaves. Slavery also “had made us...
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