Discussing The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass In the preface of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by himself, William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionist and member of the Anti-Slavery Society, said of Frederick Douglass, after hearing him speak, “Patrick Henry, of revolutionary fame, never made a speech more eloquent in the cause of liberty than the one I had just listened to from the lips of that hunted fugitive.” Garrison and other abolitionist convinced Fredrick Douglass to continue to tell his story of slavery, but Douglass was not a free man and warily told, “only fragments of his life story, guarding always the details of names, places and means of escape which might have identified him to his master and exposed friends and accomplices who had helped him in his way.” The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was Douglass’ first autobiography. In it he revealed all the details of his childhood that he could remember, which he had never spoken to anyone prior to writing the narrative because a slave with any knowledge of anything besides obeying his master was often punished by death. From listening intently to conversations of both his negro family and his white masters, he knew he was born in Tuckahoe, near Easton, in Talbot country, Maryland. Years later, when he thought he was about seventeen years old, he heard his master say it was 1835, so he at that time, set a near estimate of his own birth to be around 1818. Frederick was raised until the age of seven by his grandmother, Harriet Bailey, in a cabin with many of his other cousins, who were taken from their parents. It was the white master’s intent to separate slave families so the slaves would remain ignorant of who they were. Frederick knew his mother, Betsey B... ... middle of paper ... ... Frederick change his last name from “Bailey” to “Douglass” to protect him from being identified. Frederick said in his narrative, “From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace, and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angles to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.” Frederick Douglass became a vital aspect of the anti-slavery movement from 1841 until his death in 1895. Freedom for Frederick was bittersweet in that his freedom was precious to him, yet illusive in the bondage that he carried in his heart and mind for the daily terrors that continued to be suffered by his fellow slaves.
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