Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (later known as Frederick Douglass) was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland around the year 1818. He was an African American reformer, writer, and orator. Douglass was one of the few noteworthy heroes who arose from the evils of slavery and impacted the United States and the world in significant ways. After escaping from slavery, he became known for his astounding oratory skills and remarkable antislavery writing. He became an important leader of the abolitionist movement. Northerners found it hard to believe that such an incredible orator had once been a slave. To verify this, Douglass described the events of his life as a slave and his ambition to be a free man in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
In his memoir, Douglass describes the reasons why slavery was protected and needed in the south. The defenders of slavery argued that an end to slavery would have had an enormous and negative impact on the South’s economy, which relied on slave labor. They argued that the cotton, rice, and tobacco industries would entirely collapse. Defenders of slavery claimed that if all slaves were freed, they would become educated and replace white men’s jobs, which would lead to widespread unemployment, chaos, and anarchy. For example, when Douglass was under the control of Hugh and Sophia Auld in Baltimore, Sophia Auld treated him kindly and began to teach him how to read. However, Hugh Auld insisted that she end the teaching to maintain Douglass’s ignorance, therefore preventing him from becoming rebellious in the future. Sophia Auld eventually obeyed her husband, and became even crueler than him. This portrays how slavery, over time, warped the master from good to evil. This banishment of Douglass’s teachings only encouraged him to learn even more. Slaveholders believed that literacy would lead slaves to question the right of whites to own slaves. If slaves cannot write, their viewpoint on slavery would never be told to...
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