Despite the many ways to prevent little or no education, for slaves in the south, education was a major role in the abolition of slavery and someone like Frederick Douglass used the education that he taught himself, to teach others and come out from a slave to a free man. In chapter one of the narrative, Douglass explains that his master separated him from his mother soon after his birth. This separation ensured that Douglass did not develop familial feelings towards his mother. Douglass devotes large parts of his narrative to demonstrating how a slave is “made” beginning at birth. He gave details how slaveholders first remove a child from his immediate family, and how that destroys a child’s support network and sense of personal history.
It created an awakening for slaves since he was one of the first slaves that wrote a biography of his life even though slaves were expected to be uneducated. It showed cased slavery as evil and immoral and more people began to support the abolitionist movement. Thus caused conflict between the south and the north because many whites had different opinions and beliefs about slavery. Since they claimed slavery was a good thing because slaves were given a place to live and a place
Therefore, by him establishing his own identity on his own terms he catapulted his career as an abolitionist and his own claim to freedom. Douglass took an enormous risk but it was necessary for him to assert his right to define himself and to authenticate his Narrative as a first-hand account of the reality of slavery so that he could firmly impress it's evils on the American people. He knew that the political world had to change because slaves could not become free on their own due to the many factors working against them. His own self reliance led him to freedom but he was one of the blessed few and he credited his good fortune to a Higher Power because he knew he succeeded against great odds.
In addition, Douglass's life story furthered the abolitionist cause. His rationale on what slavery does to white people is one example that advanced the abolitionist causes. Most slaves were treated inhumanely and grew up with no education. In fact, it was inapt to teach a slave how to read. Consequently, when Frederick Douglass's biography was published many wondered if it was valid due to Douglass's unexpected literacy.
By viewing the title page and reading the words “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, written by himself” the reader sees the advancement Douglass made from a dependent slave to an independent author (Stone 134). As a slave, he was forbidden a voice with which he might speak out against slavery. Furthermore, the traditional roles of slavery would have had him uneducated—unable to read and incapable of writing. However, by examining the full meaning of the title page, the reader is introduced to Douglass’s refusal to adhere to the slave role of uneducated and voiceless. Thus, even before reading the work, the reader knows that Douglass will show “how a slave was made a man” through “speaking out—the symbolic act of self-definition” (Stone 135).
Slave owners knew this. The slaves who were able to read and write always rebelled more against their masters. Frederick Douglass, author of "A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," and Harriet Jacobs, author of "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," were prime examples. Both slaves had been taught how read and write at a young age, and both gained their freedom by escaping to the northern states. What they had learned also helped them stay free while in the northern states after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which left no slave truly free.
Third, he used that knowledge, that he had gained over years and years of self-taught, underground learning, and used it to run away from the brutal life of a slave. Finally, he used the knowledge he had gained to publicly speak against the institution of slavery and make it a point to earn the right of universal suffrage for all men. He presented many ideas, which we today, can see were very strong and moral convictions from his views as an abolitionist. Fredrick Douglass discovered that knowledge was power from a very early age. One of the first inklings that Douglass gives that he knows knowledge is power can be found on page 30 of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, when he recounts a chance encounter of a slave of one of the out farms of Colonel Lloyd and Colonel Lloyd himself.
From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.” (49) Douglass was not content to remain a slave for life and resolved there after to change his predicament. Frederick Douglass’s autobiography illustrates the atrocities faced by American slaves at the hand of slaveholders. The brilliance with which he writes speaks to the potential that laid dormant in the slave population. His is a story of resilience and want for a better life. In this all who read his life story are compelled to identify with it.
Slavery Essay: Douglas Argument In the Autobiography, “Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglas: An American Slave,” Fredrick Douglas writes to show what the life of a slave is like, because from personal experience, he knows. Fredrick Douglas not only shows how his life has been as a slave but shows what it is like to be on the bottom and be mistreated. Douglas shows that freedom isn’t free, and he took the initiative to become a free man. Not many African-Americans had the opportunity to make themselves free and were forced to live a life of disparity and torture. Through his experience Douglas shows us the psychological effects of slavery.
It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” It was this statement that Fredrick Douglass heard from his master which changed the course of his life. “From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.” Fredrick Douglass’s strive for education would eventually result in knowledge of how slavery affected the south and play a key role in liberating the slaves. Because of his education, Fredrick Douglass says he “…better understood the moral, religious, and political character of the nation,-than nine tenths of the slaveholders in Talbot county, Maryland.” One of the reasons why Fredrick Douglass thought slavery hurt the south was all the suffering it caused to the slave population. “My mother and I were separated when I was an infant-before I knew her as my mother.” Just like the case of Fredrick Douglass, most of the enslaved families were separated. Many slave owners took advantage of the female slaves sexually.