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Frederick Douglass

In his early twenty years, Frederick Douglass was a slave in the US. He is renowned for writing three autobiographies which are greatly regarded in the nineteenth century. He utilized these autobiographies to influence the Northern abolitionist movement's view of slavery in his experience as a slave. Douglas lived a hard life as a slave and started to learn how to read and write when he was twelve years old. He wrote the three autobiographies that detailed his life as a slave and after acquiring freedom. He also dedicated his power of speech to talk against slavery and fighting it. The three that Douglas wrote detailed his life as a slave, a politician, and as an abolitionist.

His writings have historical value and are considered as writings of high quality and they as a matter of fact gave Douglass recognition in the standard of great American authors. Of importance is the immense influence that his work had on many well-known abolitionists. With his legendary works, together with his longing to write he was able to expose oppression of slaves in America. His experience as a slave gave him a better position to write about them exposing both the slaves and slave owners point of view. His work won him a place as a great writer and his autobiographies got a lot of approval from abolitionists. Douglass also had an extensive influence on other antislavery writers, politicians and the general public.

Douglass used his slave experiences to manipulate the Northern abolitionist movement's view of slavery.  His life as a slave in the violent era gave him a cutting edge in his writings and the influence of that writings. He was born in 1818 and his early life was spent as a slave on Colonel Lloyd’s agricultural estate in eastern side of Maryland. In the period when the abolitionist activities began to gain pace as famous parties in the North slavery supporters especially white mobs assaulted black people.  During the time when Douglass run away from slavery around 1838 there was a lot of tensions among abolitionists and slave owners. Slaves published the details of their distressing escapes and their life as slaves by use of ghostwriters. Even though abolitionists, reformers who supported abolishing of slavery advocated for ending of slavery in the South, there was a lot of racial segregation in the US. Even freemen among the blacks found the charge of looking for a decent job overpowering. White workers all over the country did not like to work with black people.

The Fugitive Slave Law had been passed in 1850 and this gave the slave owners the right to hunt the north for their runaway slaves. The law was accepted as constitutional and the rights of slaves as residents became worthless due to the property clause. Slave hunters frequently kidnapped free black people under the assertion of the law. Nevertheless, the rising abolitionist association gave an opportunity for run away of many slaves. The civil war became the eventual dispute for slavery, but not isolation and discrimination. The war ended in 1865 with the black codes keeping the African Americans from acquiring property, and therefore becoming practical slaves to their white employers. Many black people continued to suffer the discrimination and several aging abolitionists retired from their fights. Only a few blacks got into politics, but were very few to come up with a strong voting alliance in state legislatures. The era of inactive confrontation and civil rights appeals neared. Douglass fought for the liberty and rights of black people though he never saw the desired equality between races. Douglass’s background acted as the basis for his autobiographies and this is what increased his influence. He wrote about his times as a slave and after and his reactions about the era of slavery. Douglass’s past had a lot of tribulations. As a young boy, he was starved, beaten and verbally abused by Aunt Katy and he rarely got to see his mother. Douglas spent his adolescence life in Baltimore really grew to detest slavery. His interests in fighting the evil were captivated when he read the Colombian orator that contained a compilation of speeches against slavery. Douglas found the speeches surprisingly comparable to his reasoning and the same views were later reflected in his autobiographies.

Later in 1831, Douglas discovered a group of white people who regarded themselves as abolitionists. He continued to be rebellious amid interference by his masters, who later admitted that he was indeed unfit to be a slave due to his education (37). After working hard and managing to escape with his family, Douglass embarked into a career as an zealous abolitionist.

He moved farther north and discovered an abolitionist weekly called The Liberator that was edited by William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was one person that encouraged Douglass to continue with his course. His speeches encouraged him to speak out openly against the evil and he was therefore able to demonstrate the effect that slavery had on slaves themselves and on slave owners. Through his help, he concluded a sequence of speeches about Douglas’ past and published the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in 1845. This was an account of Douglas’ life as a slave and it reached out to many people, both slaves and slave traders and owners. The publishing of this book made him entangled in abolitionism, and he and he escaped the United States momentarily following his fugitive status.  

Douglas successfully campaigned in Ireland, England, and Scotland for his white counterparts back in the US. Douglass and Garrison were entirely cynical and fought over religion, rights, and racial supremacy. He initiated and edited various antislavery correspondents and came up with his second autobiography based on a slave rebellion. His other autobiography was published twenty five years later. Douglas participated in politics as a minister to Haiti and as a marshal and recorder of Washington. He married a white woman and this made him able to show that harmony among all races was possible. Through his marriage, he proved that interracial marriages were possible. Douglas’ many antislavery speeches formed a good part of his books. Speaking as an educated former slave gave him a convincing power in his speeches and his books. He had the power of speech and his voice and skills made him a talented orator. His writings style represented the traditional history of the black slaves and touched the imagination of all readers.

The purpose of Douglas’ writings was to inform and enlighten the readers about slavery and he definitely succeeded in that. Douglass succeeded in conveying his information and theme to the readers capturing their thoughts to view the worst impacts of slavery. The quality of the thought in his autobiographies reflected the uniqueness and originality of the subject matter since he was a slave experiencing the same problems. On top of the original subject matter, Douglass was creative with new ideas and remained insightful throughout his writings qualifying him as good writer. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life, has a timeless theme, original subject matter, and affected the people’s thinking at the time of its writing. He displayed his deep talent in conveying his theme regarding the terrible effects of oppression and slavery. The inspired and creative ideas regarding the theme of slavery produced an immense impact to both slaves and slave owners. His autobiographies caused realization to the predicament of exploited slaves, and more significantly affected the consciousness of the society.

Douglass utilized his autobiographies as a method of passing on his ideas to the society. Narrative of the Life provides a feeling of practicality and naturalism and In My Bondage and My Freedom he fully describes the injustices and brings in more sensible passages. In his writing, he retains the rather naturalistic point of view against the dehumanizing impacts of slavery (Bondage 237). His third autobiography, Life and Times reviews his successes in life as a former slave and also include an account of his life as a prompt of his modest roots. Other slaves also published details of their captivity, tyranny, and escapes but through ghost writers. Douglass wrote his own story and therefore did not lose the edge of first hand accounts. The abolitionists and many slave owners did not have any reasons to doubt the validity of the experiences contained in his writings. Moreover, the autobiography came authenticated with a preface written by Garrison and a letter written by Wendell Philips giving it more validity.

Douglass’s details about the psychological impacts of slavery depict careful thought and observation made in a long time. His new theme, the mental consequences of slavery, gives the reader something to contemplate about the true grounds for the unkindness inbuilt in slavery. Douglas utilizes instances from his own life to demonstrate each point about the institution’s corruption of slavery. He put his life in danger and sacrificed his safety to present the true nature and name of the villains and oppressors at the time he was in escape. His three autobiographies criticized slavery as an institution which brought corrupt slave owners. Being a former slave growing up in cruelties, his psychological assessment of slavery made many people to abandon their ways of reasoning and rise against the evil of slavery.

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