Civil War Causes: Frederick Douglass

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Civil War Causes: Frederick Douglass
Born into slavery and fathered by an unknown white man, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey” was born in Maryland around 1818. He was raised by his grandparents and with an Aunt, having seen his mother only a handful of times before she died. It was during this time that he witnessed firsthand the cruelty of the institution of slavery: lashings, exposure to the elements and hunger. When he was eight years old he left for Baltimore, and it was there that his master’s sympathetic wife taught him to read and write. When he recounted the move later in his life he said, “Going to live at Baltimore, laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity.” Typically slaveholders would prevent slaves from becoming literate. And Douglass’ master would often punish his wife for teaching the slaves the alphabet because he would make them disobedient. Slavery means you are to remain ignorant but freedom means that you were enlightened. He would struggle, but he knew that knowledge was more than power, it was freedom. After he escaped slavery September 3, 1838 and fled to New York, he joined various abolitionist groups and in 1841 he met the white abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison, who went on to become his mentor. Despite many apprehensions that releasing his story would endanger his life as a free man, Douglass published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written By Himself in 1845. After becoming more independent from Garrison, he spoke against his belief that the Constitution was pro-slavery, and argued that it may “be wielded in behalf of emancipation,” where the federal government had exclusive jurisdiction. Douglass d...

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... by the war and fight more viciously. Lincoln was very careful not to underestimate his enemies in the South and sternly advised the American public not to get overconfident, “Let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that just God, in His good time, will us the right result.” The siege of Vicksburg was in many ways the hardest blow to the South, because they lost their control of the river there, and lost communication with their western territories. In many respects, this was the day that I believe most of the southern soldiers believed the war had ended, and with Sherman making his march, the psychological impact was devastating. Without their beliefs, their way of life taken away, they had no reason to fight, and no reason to continue fighting because if Old Dixie could fall, so could anyone else.

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