An American Slave: Frederick Douglass
He was one of the most influential African-American leaders of the abolitionist movement during the 19th century, and well known for being an incisive antislavery writer and speaker. He fought hard for civil rights for blacks, and was even the first African-American to hold a high U.S. government rank. This man, as you and many others know, is Frederick Douglass. These are Douglass’ most highly noted achievements, but who was this he before he became such a revered and respected individual? He was a slave. A slave who, quite literally, escaped to freedom to eventually fight for those who were still oppressed, bound in chains and shackles. His memoirs, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, exposed the exploitation of humans through slavery, specifically his own accounts as a slave while eventually progressing into the question of human morality and empathy of how man should treat other men though different they may be. These experiences as a slave, typical and atypical, were pivotal in the man Douglass came to be. In most ways, Frederick Douglass was unlike any other slave, from experiences to outcome and even opportunities. As a general rule, Douglass was atypical mainly in regards to his knowledge and the texts he was able to acquire, which then turned into the opportunity to speak on behalf of slaves, even to white audiences, which in itself was very atypical. Frederick Douglass became the educated and opinionated man he was through reading, which had always been threatening to his owners, as this could open doors to aggressive behavior when seeing how unfairly they were treated, and how the rest of the world functioned differently too. In chapter seven, Douglass stated “…the thought of being a slave for life began to bear heavily upon my heart…I got hold of a book entitled The Columbian Orator…The moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of even a...
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