Frederick Douglass, a firm believer in equality, was one of the most influential leaders of the abolitionist movement in America. An ex-slave, Douglass pushed for abolition and brought attention to the subject through his commanding speeches and his powerful writings. Among his writings Douglass published his autobiography "Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" , which is indeed one of his more famous pieces of work. Although seen as a simple autobiography of his life, the narrative includes a strong abolitionist message that would aim to change the northern audience's view on southern slaveholders. Douglass knew changing the north's view on the subject would create an anti=slavery majority, and with that bring abolition even closer. Douglass used his life story as a disguised propaganda device to promote and drive the abolition movement among northerners.
Before Douglass begins his life story , the preface written by Wm. Lloyd Garrison, prepares the reader for the abolitionist message that is really behind Douglass's Narrative. The preface focuses on Garrison's admiration for Douglass and his cause. He describes hearing Douglass speak for the first time and states "I think I never hated so intensely as at that moment..."(2065). Garrison also demonstrates how persuading and devoted to abolition Douglass is by writing "..if Mr. Douglass could be persuaded to consecrate his time and talents to the promotion of the anti-slavery enterprise, a powerful impetus would be given to it, and a stunning blow..inflicted on northern prejudice against a colored complexion."(2066). To further establish the abolition message within the text, Garrison asks ...
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..., being separated from his mother, how the slaves were treated like animals, and the brutal punishments and killings without justice. Douglass also expected to place a black mark on southern slave holders by telling us how they had affairs with the slaves and used religion as support for their actions.
Using his narrative as a mask for his propaganda message, Frederick Douglass worked to make his northern audience feel distanced, and feel great anger towards the southern slave owners. The themes he used as propaganda: family, foul treatment, cruel punishment, and the false use of religion, were all subjects that northerners held to their heart. Douglass understood this and realized if he demonstrated how the slave owners were contradicting those beloved values, he could make a great impact and recruit a large support for the abolition movement.
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