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Fredrick Douglass

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“ Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” ( Huggins,180). These are the words of Fredrick Douglass that could represent the way he lived his life. Not willing to accept his life as a slave, he rose to become a great and honorable man that held a voice of influence over the reform movement’s throughout the 19th century. He is one of the American leaders who provided a powerful voice for human rights and racial injustice during this period of American history.

Throughout his life he was first and foremost an abolitionist, fighting against slavery until its elimination. He was a man dedicated to a cause, determined to try everything in his power to fight for what he believed fair, which was racial equality. As a young man Fredrick had fire; a burning incentive to change the world. Towards the end of his life he began to lose that sense of hope and idealism he had once shown.

Despite not achieving what he wanted, he will always be credited for his hard effort as a great black man. He lived in a dominant white society but was able to speak out, participate in government affairs, and share his ideals and set of principals with the nation. Though he may have not accomplished the goals he had hoped for, he can be seen as a man who would mark the beginning of the long arduous struggle over the continuous fight for racial equality. Fredrick Douglass based his ideas of reform on two different and interconnected principles. These were the issues of religion and morality and also upon the Declaration of Independence, which represent the set of ideals upon which the nation had established itself.

The importance of Christian morality was especially important throughout the 19th century due to the second great awakening, which caused many people to be influenced by what they perceived to be morally right. Fredrick based his argument that slavery was a sin before God. He wanted the American people to see it was their Christian duty to help the slaves. “ Heaven help the poor slaves….” ( Huggins, 70). He was dedicated and saw his cause as “righteous in the eyes of god” (Huggins, 32). putting his life constantly at risk.

He delivered many speeches throughout his lifetime and spoke of the horrible atrocities and evil that was perpetrated against black people under slavery. He wanted to “arouse the callous hearts of the American people” (Huggins, 70). He felt he could not stand by b...

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..., at the annual meeting of the Equal Rights Association, Douglas addressed the urgency of the vote of black men. With the establishment of the fifteenth amendment extending the vote to black men and not women friction was created between the two causes and greatly split them. “Douglass claimed that it was the “negro hour” and their rights had to be secured first.” ( Huggins, 121).

Fredrick Douglass did not reach his ultimate goal of “ racial equality.” This is because society was not ready to accept and think of blacks as equals. Racism was deeply rooted within American society. America had always been a nation where white American men believed they were superior; they were pragmatic and highly invested in the ideology of “manifest destiny.” They wanted to limit any possibility of their power to be taken away. If blacks were granted full equality then white men’s social and economic status could be threatened. Also, there was the simple fact that even white people, who had thought that slavery was a sin and fought for its abolition, didn’t think of blacks as their full equals. They refused to associate and interact with blacks. This represented the “separate but equal” doctrine.
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