Understanding Equality in the 1800s - Analyzing equality through "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass".

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It was once written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These words are very simplistic and nonspecific, which is a reason why they are interpreted differently by various people. The part of this document that I wish to focus on for this paper is equality. Many have disagreed over the message being sent. For example, who is included in the phrase, all men are created equal? What does this equality entail? Are both genders meant to be treated equally? There are so many ideas that we can introduce on this subject. After reading the works by Stowe and Douglass, I had a much better understanding to what equality meant to some people during the 1800s. Slaves wanted an equality where they would be viewed the same as any other person, regardless of color. They wanted the right to vote, participate in government, live life freely without being under a Masters eye, basic principles that white men called their inalienable rights.

Harriet Beecher Stowe presented her views through the story Uncle Toms Cabin. A tale that begins among the relatively happy lives of Kentucky slaves andfinishes in the midst of death and freedom, Stowe vividly gives explanations of the thoughts and actions of various personalities in the 1800s. We heard stories fromthose who did not believe African Americans deserved the same rights as what white people received. We also heard counterpoints from those who believed blacks did deserve equality. There was much discussion as to the naturally inferior qualities that supposedly represented the black race. In 1854, George Fitzhugh wrote that the African race was inferior to the white race. If they were given their freedom and equality it would bring about the extermination of their race because they would not be able to compete against whites. Africans were not given equal treatment because they were simply looked at as the lesser race. They were thought of as not being on the same level as their white masters, and were treated as such. In a conversation with Augustine St Clair, we hear Alfred talk about how all men are not born free, nor equal. This type of mind set is a reason why African Americans were not given rights in the 1800s and were held as slaves to those who were thought of as the naturally superior race. Stowe shows this situation again when she speaks of slaves having no acknowledged rights or position. They are observed by law as not being worthy of any equality. This is a heart wrenching fate for slaves. Because they are not seen as equals, they have no say as to what happens in their lives, they are looked at as being lower then human. Because of this, they do not even receive the opportunity to reallydemonstrate their worth and equality. Stowe showed the pain slaves felt when family members were sold and families torn apart; when they were not even treated as people, but rather as the private property of an owner. By showing such scenes, Stowe proved that slaves were like any other human being, and just like their white counterparts, slaves were capable of experiencing strong emotional reactions. This was a counter to the view of natural inferiority. Stowes argument raised the question that regardless of any physical attribute, how can a person be seen as inferior if they are capable of the same thoughts and feelings as the next person?Frederick Douglass showed his views on equality through the writing of hisnarrative. Like Stowe, Douglass presented similar arguments. He tells the story of a slave who remarked to a passerby, that he was not treated well by his master. Because of this he was chained and taken away from his family, all for giving his opinion and telling the truth. In this time, slaves could not even speak their mind without fear of some sort of...
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