One of the illusions that Douglass sought to destroy was the natural mental inferiority of his race. This component of the pro-slavery argument was brought up numerous times, for example in George McDuffie’s “The Natural Slavery of the Negro.” In this work, McDuffie argued that slavery was not only merited, but necessary, as people of African heritage were “utterly unqualified” for “rational freedom” because of their “intellectual inferiority” and their need for a “condition of servile dependence” (The Natural Slavery of the Negro, McDuffie, P2). Douglass combated this argument with anecdotes of how he “finally succeeded in learning to read” without a formal education (67). His anecdotes...
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...aveholders used the existence of slavery in the Bible as a defense for their actions, instead of adhering to Christian values and renouncing the warped morals of slavery.
Slaveholders used corrupt morals and inherently false logic to defend slavery, but Douglass, by sharing the story of his life and of others’, dispelled the illusions of slavery. Douglass’ life provided the evidence necessary to counter the slaveholders’ arguments: racial inferiority, both physical and mental, slave happiness, and Biblical justification for slavery. By publishing this autobiography, Douglass furthered the opposition of slavery, as whites that had never experienced slavery could finally sympathize with members of the anti-slavery movement. In this book Douglass revealed the flaws in the pro-slavery argument, and cemented himself as one of the most important abolitionists of his era.
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