The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, Through the Eyes of Frederick Douglass

The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, Through the Eyes of Frederick Douglass

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The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself is a powerful book in many respects. Douglass invites you to vicariously witness the monstrous atrocities he experienced during the antebellum period; a time when said atrocities were not only encouraged, but looked highly upon. Throughout his narrative, Douglass expresses his exponentially growing anger and fortitude. When the reader arrives at The Appendix, it soon becomes that much more apparent that the vice of slavery that is most troublesome to him, is the curtain of pseudo-Christianity surrounding it. Why did Douglass, against the advice of his publisher, decide to include this radical piece? Douglass was adamant about including The Appendix so he could display the ignorance under the veil of American Christianity and the resulting level of power that ensued from adhering to its beliefs. American Christianity during Douglass’ time was completely different from what is thought of as Christianity today.
During the Antebellum period in America, the country’s thoughts were changing drastically. Escape from religious persecution was a key player in many minds when choosing to come to America and so it became a melting pot simmering with multiple thoughts and ideals. The European Protestants, Roman Catholics, and African American religions were forced to intermingle and the unique qualities of each were particularly useful in the establishment of personal validity (Fox 201, 202). After the American Revolution, most Republicans argued that churches, “brandished superstitious dogmas and mysteries that kept people in the dark about the rational capacities of their own minds” (Fox 159). On the flip side of this, “a few Republicans such ...

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... wickedness of their situation. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Douglass 77). Douglass’ words are meant for the master, the mistress, the auctioneer, the slaveholding preacher, the government: the hypocrite, but mostly for his brothers and sisters in manacles.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. Eds. Andrews, William L. & McFeely, William S. New York: Norton and Company, 1997. Print.
Douglass, Frederick. “American Slavery.” Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England. 22 May 1846. Report of a Public Meeting. Retrieved from Speech.
Fox, Richard Wightman. Jesus in America A History. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Print.
Moynahan, Brian. The Faith A History of Christianity. New York: Doubleday, 2002. Print.

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