In the annals of American history slavery was a dark time. Although many abhorred the practice of slavery, few had the courage to come forth and proclaim the depravity of it. In Frederick Douglass’s (1845/1995) autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author addressed the horrors of slavery and clearly displayed the condition of his fellow slaves. Frederick Douglass wrote his account of the mistreatment of the slaves in order to expose the fallacy of the economic argument for slavery and condemn the hypocrisy of the Southern Christian slave owners. Douglass’s work revealed how the slaves were treated as though they had neither value nor rights as human beings.
Slaveholders were expected to treat slaves as something less than human, which drove slave owners to enforce cruel and barbaric reprimands toward slaves. Frederick Douglass argues that slavery manipulates a person’s identity, mainly because of social expectations. There were rules and laws to abide to in regard of slaves; among the primary issues, slaves had no purpose in having the ability to read or write, while Douglass was being taught by an oblivious Mrs. Auld. Douglass’ mistress, had never owned a slave before Douglass, because of this, Mrs. Auld was not aware of how she was expected to treat a slave. Frederick Douglass relates how kindly and goodhearted Mrs. Auld was before her husband taught her the “correct” manner of treating a slave.
This meant that these bastard children were slaves despite their paternal heritage because their mother was a slave. The effect of this revelation was to shock and offend the morals of the conservative northern whites. Northern society scorned people in adulterous and interracial relationships. By portraying these Southerners as immoral and adulterous, Douglass wanted to cultivate in his audience a damaging opinion of southern slaveholders (Quarles ix). Continuing with the theme o... ... middle of paper ... ...streated and punished their slaves, and how they used religion as an excuse to legitimize their immoral actions.
In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, Frederick Douglass establishes for us the many factors that lead to the continual enslavement of the black race by connecting his own plight to that of other slaves as a plea for the abolition of slavery. The evil of slavery infected every master to pervert the truth to his own satisfaction and Douglass explains how slavery corrupts the humanity of both slave and master. The legal system was also not an option for slaves to turn to for help because they had no legal rights. The fear of losing friends and never being able to trust anyone again was enough to keep many back in bondage. And the lack of education left their minds dulled to any thoughts beyond what they already knew which was just their own miserable condition.
To be a slave meant to live a doomed life. Negros were not the only ones who were ruined by the institution of slavery, though. Frederick Douglass, an African American social reformer, leader of the abolitionist movement, and former slave, believed that the unnatural means of slavery had harmful effects on everyone within the institution of slavery. Although slaves faced physical, mental, and psychological abuse, slave owners were also degraded and ruined by the institution of slavery, because it distressed slaveholding families, caused warped forms of Christianity with unjust morals to arise, and reduced civil people to fiends through irresponsibility. Through his Narrative and his speeches, Douglass reasoned that if everyone within the institution of slavery was tarnished by it, then it must be unnatural, and therefore a threat to society as a whole that must be removed.
People believed that the black man was unintellectual and was incapable of thought just because the lack of communication there was between a slave and a slave-owner. George Fitzhugh advocates slavery in his “Universal Law of Slavery” trying to sway the govern that African Americans were more freed were slaves for the white man, rather than being back in Africa where some of their practiced rituals seemed more cruel than what any man could do to a slave like “idolatry and cannibalism” (Fitzhugh). Even though the activists against slavery knew that was
Through slave revolts, the whites were forced to see that slaves were never going to be satisfied with life as it was. By word of several rebellions arising in the south, they couldn’t legally free their black servants, but they could treat them better over time. The white owners did not want their families and homes to be part of an insurrection. Though many lives were lost of white men, women and children, the slaves showed power and resistance to being mistreated and disrespected. Though freedom was years away, they were taking necessary steps to prove they were indeed human.
Douglass believed that since Auld obtained slave owning from marriage, it made him more of an unpleasant master because he wasn’t used to being around slavery and having so much power. Fredrick Douglass also was convinced that religious slaveholders were false Christians because they became more self-righteous and thought that God gave them the power to hold slaves. By telling stories to the reader, Douglass hoped to bring awareness to the harsh subject of slavery and show how the slaves kept hope during these miserable times.
It did not seem as if he was really concerned about how slaves were being treated by their slave masters, though he did see slavery as a moral evil. To Cartwright, slavery was a moral evil because he believed that it made whites slave holders lazy. He felt that since slave holders had their slaves doing all of the housework, then they believed having to do so themselves would be like lowering their status. In other words the rich slave holders had lost the value of work to the point that if they had to do so themselves would be like lowing themselves to the same level as slaves.
122). His description of the beating is used to show readers the gross mistreatment he had to forgo due to the color of his skin. The beating wasn 't doled out by his master, but instead by other white men who had no regards to his life. Douglass includes this excerpt to not only bring attention to the abuse of slave owners, but also the abuse slaves had to endure by white men. By bringing attention to the abuse he had to suffer, Douglass highlights to the readers the injustice of slavery, and how it changed the moralities of those not even holding a slave.