Fredrick Douglass was a former slave, talented writer and outspoken abolitionist. Douglass was a slave from Tuckahoe, Maryland who fled to New York and than later on to Massachusetts.
He was born into slavery and was officially sent to a plantation to work at the age of seven. Prior to working in the fields he, as well as other slave children, was raised by an older woman. This was commonplace for the slave families, according to Douglass, “it’s a common custom to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached it’s twelfth month, it’s mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor” (Douglass, 2). A man named Captain Anthony, who was aid to have been Douglass’s father, owned Douglass’s mother. Due to a series of deaths within his family, which would later include the Captain himself, there were a number of property disputes.
Douglass was constantly shifted back and forth from Baltimore to the south. After a failed attempt at escaping he was sent back to Baltimore. The life of a slave was an unfair and unjust degrading way to live. “I was often awakened at the dawn of the day by the most heart-rending shrieks, the louder that they screamed the harder they got whipped. Where the blood ran the fastest, there he whipped the longest” (Douglass, 3). Slaves were classified as property; they were inferior creatures that were not considered human. They were given the bare minimum to survive and no more.
They were given two shirts, a pair of pants, a pair of stockings and a pair of shoes to last them the year. The slaves were not even given the simple luxury of beds or pillows and blankets. Douglass addresses how the institution of slavery narrows slaves’ opportunities for self-knowledge. Slave owners hid information from the slaves about their birth dates to keep them from developing any form of a personality. “It is the wish of most owners to my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant” (Douglass, 1). Douglass felt strongly against the fact that owners withheld such vital information from the slaves.
He said, “most slaves do not know how old they are more than horses do” (Douglass, 1). This goes to show that slaves, although expensive, really were worthless and were looked upon as animals are. Slave owners, according to Douglass, did not recognize any family lineage or bonds; they just did not matter to them at all. The theory behind that was the fact that if a family was recognized it might form a sense of self-being and might even join with other families, and the owners could not have that bonding going on. The owners feared that there was a possibility that an alliance could be formed among families and that there could be a revolt.
wrenching. All of those unfortunate Men, Women, and Children who had to suffer such atrocities make you wonder how such a thing could 5take place? The life of a slave is a psychologically wounding contradiction. Douglass’s idea of freedom and his escape plan all came to him one day as he was dong an errand for his master. Douglass encountered two Irish immigrant dockworkers that were the inspiration behind his escape from slavery. They suggested to him tht he travel north because slavery was abloished in the North, and many people there were friendly and willing to help. Douglass had a growing mind with enormous potential.
His love to educate himself led him to life that he so successfully go to live. After numerous accounts with cruel slave owners Douglass’s desire to escape deepened. Slowly, he saved up money from his weekly earnings.
Finally, he escapes from the horrible life that he has always known. Douglass does not disclose information regarding his escape, so that other slaves will ond day have the opportunity to do it on their own. Douglass could just about taste his freedom as he was approaching his escape. “The wretchedness of slavery, and the blessedness of freedom, were perpetually befor me”(Douglass,63).
Prior to his escape Douglass believed that Northerners were poor because they didn’t own slaves. He was taken much by surprise when he arrived in New Bedford only to see the array of opportunities. Once Douglass became a subscriber to The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper, he became an activist for the millions of slaves that were still out there seeking help.Frederick Douglass was a pioneer in the abolition movement.
His courage aided, and determination aided other slaves to overcome their sense of fear. He became one of the mose powerful and ourspoken abolitionist leaders. His skill to talk to the people amazed listeners.
Douglass published this piece in hope to change the views that many Americans had on slavery. This piece opened the reader’s eyes to the horrors of slave life, and he explains how slavery corrupts the humanity of both the slave and master.