This excellent biography fluently tells the life story of Douglass; one of the 19th centuries's most famous writers and speakers on abolitionist and human rights causes. It traces his life from his birth as a slave in Maryland, through his self-education, escape to freedom, and subsequent lionization as a renowned orator in England and the United States. Fascinating, too, are accounts of the era's politics, such as the racist views held by some abolitionist leaders and the ways in which many policies made in post-Civil War times have worked to the detriment of today's civil rights movement. The chapter on Frederick Douglass and John Brown is, in itself, interesting enough to commend this powerful biography. The seldom-seen photographs, the careful chapter notes, documentation, and acknowledgements will encourage anybody to keep on learning about Frederick Douglass.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an 1845 autobiography by the eponymous author, is rife with conflict and contradiction. The wealth and cruelty of slave owners is contrasted with the poverty and helplessness of slaves; the ideal of freedom is set against the looming dread of its consequences; but some of the most polarizing and intense conflicts are internal and paradoxical in nature. Among these is the idea of hope, to which the slaves cling and the masters try to crush. Hope almost always carries a positive connotation, but Frederick Douglass’ narrative exposes its paradox in relation to slavery and freedom, how it was used as a tool to both help and harm.
Douglass believed American slavery could not be debated any further. On the Fourth of July this man had created a powerful speech, but...
In Fredrick Douglass’s speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Douglass proves the necessity of resistance by relating
From before the country’s conception to the war that divided it and the fallout that abolished it, slavery has been heavily engrained in the American society. From poor white yeoman farmers, to Northern abolitionist, to Southern gentry, and apathetic northerners slavery transformed the way people viewed both their life and liberty. To truly understand the impact that slavery has had on American society one has to look no further than those who have experienced them firsthand. Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and advocate for the abolitionist, is on such person. Douglass was a living contradiction to American society during his time. He was an African-American man, self-taught, knowledgeable, well-spoken, and a robust writer. Douglass displayed a level of skill that few of his people at the time could acquire. With his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Written by Himself, Douglass captivated the people of his time with his firsthand accounts into the horror and brutality that is the institution of slavery.
His main argument in the speech is that it 's unjust and hypocritical for a country to celebrate its freedom while it still has slaves. Now that in itself is a morally viable argument, and it has never been more relevant than today in our racially hate fueled world where every situation is turned into a hate crime. However, back in those days majority of slaves were sold into slavery by their own people. Most slaves were sold by rival tribes as prisoners of war, or trouble makers of the tribe, thus giving us the “bottom of the barrel” of the groups. Another counter to Douglass was that even though slaves were people, they were still considered property. A hard working farmer could have used his last penny in order to purchase that slave because he was unable to tend his farm and provide for his family. One common misconception was that all slaves were beaten and treated lower than swine, while to the contrary some were treated well being given a bed and meals every day in exchange for their hard work. While Douglass may have had a bad time under the ownership of Auld, most northern states did not treat their slaves in this manner. This is one of the main reasons Douglass learned how to read, yet no credit is given to his former owner. Most slaves developed a relationship with their owners, in which their owners taught them useful skills such as reading, writing, simple math and farming skills. Another argument brought into Douglass’ speech was that most churches were segregated, and in turn perpetuated the racism that helped keep slavery alive in well. He proposed that a God that wouldn’t allow such evil and disservice in this world would contradict everything the bible proposes and teaches. He praises the writers of the constitution, considering them his equal and thanking the signers of the Declaration of Independence, calling
On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass, an African-American ex-slave and abolitionist, delivered a speech in Rochester, New York at the city’s annual Fourth of July Celebration, to the citizens of Rochester. Allowing the people of Rochester only a day to immerse in the “patriotic” festivities of the Fourth of July, Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” challenges American ideals such as liberty, equality and justice, by providing arguments that examine the religious, moral and constitutional principles that the American people claim to abide by and glorify. Through rhetorical strategies such as repetition, pathos and logos, Douglass exposes the paradoxical nature of the Fourth of July.
Frederick Douglass made the most of his years after escaping from slavery in 1852. Douglass spread his words against slavery through being a well-known writer. Douglass was one of the most prominent reform leaders of his era (Foner, 481). A popular document written by Frederick Douglass on July 5th, 1852, spread some powerful words among the nation. Douglass’s speech was titled “What to the slave is the Fourth of July”. When his speech was published, his intended audience was his “fellow citizens” and those unaware that the Fourth of July was a day of mourning for slaves; unlike white Americans celebrating the day of freedom. The reason Douglass’s speech was published was to bring attention to the separation on the Fourth of July between white and black Americans. Even though Frederick Douglass was free he could not celebrate but mourn the day for horror of the past and presence of slave cruelty.
Support for Douglass’ truth exists in the preface of the book as fact and truth become more connected. William Lloyd Garrison writes, “Such will try to discredit the shocking tales of of slaveholding cruelty which are recorded in this truthful Narrative; but they will labor in vain”
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, brings to light many of the social injustices that colored men, women, and children all were forced to endure throughout the nineteenth century under Southern slavery laws. Douglass's life-story is presented in a way that creates a compelling argument against the justification of slavery. His argument is reinforced though a variety of anecdotes, many of which detailed strikingly bloody, horrific scenes and inhumane cruelty on the part of the slaveholders. Yet, while Douglas’s narrative describes in vivid detail his experiences of life as a slave, what Douglass intends for his readers to grasp after reading his narrative is something much more profound. Aside from all the physical burdens of slavery that he faced on a daily basis, it was the psychological effects that caused him the greatest amount of detriment during his twenty-year enslavement. In the same regard, Douglass is able to profess that it was not only the slaves who incurred the damaging effects of slavery, but also the slaveholders. Slavery, in essence, is a destructive force that collectively corrupts the minds of slaveholders and weakens slaves’ intellects.