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Frederick Douglass' Views on Slavery

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“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe”( Douglass). This famous quote epitomizes the philosophies of Frederick Douglass, in which he wanted everyone to be treated with dignity; if everyone was not treated with equality, no one person or property would be safe harm. His experience as a house slave, field slave and ship builder gave him the knowledge to develop into a persuasive speaker and abolitionist. In his narrative, he makes key arguments to white abolitionist and Christians on why slavery should be abolished. The key arguments that Frederick Douglass tries to vindicate are that slavery denies slaves of their identity, slavery is also detrimental for the slave owner, and slavery is ungodly.

The first element of slavery that Frederick attacks is that slavery puts constraints on a slave’s individuality. In his narrative, he states that slaves were compared to animals by the way the slave owner treated them because slaves were considered as property and not as human beings. When slaves came into the new world, they were sold and given new names and over time were supposed to assimilate to the American culture. Since slave masters did not think slaves could assimilate to the American culture, slave masters kept them as workers; therefore, slaves were not given an education, leaving them illiterate, and thereby leaving them without any knowledge on how the American political system works. Slave owners thought that if slaves would become literate, that slaves would start to question the rights they have. Frederick argues that slaves l...

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... “Prior to [Captain Auld’s] conversion, he relied upon his own depravity to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity; but after his conversion, he found religious sanction and support for the slaveholding cruelty” (Douglass 883). This means that slaveholders use Christianity as a tool to show that they are good at heart and are doing God’s work, but they use it as a divine right to brutally beat slaves. This is what Frederick wants other abolitionists to recognize, especially the abolitionist women.

In conclusion, Frederick used these key points in his narrative to attack the institution of slavery. The speeches he made using these points to white abolitionist astonished them because they did not imagine a slave had the mind capacity to speak this well. By doing so, Frederick Douglass became the outspoken leader for slaves in the abolitionist movement.
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