Slavery was one of the most barbaric and inhumane practices in our world’s history. Although today we cannot imagine making someone work against their will and causing them much grief and suffering, slavery was rampant in the United States in the 19th century. Two men wrote about slavery during this time and one of them provides a firsthand account. In “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas,” a slave, Frederick Douglass, writes about how he moved from different masters and different cities, the people that he encountered, his methods and determination of learning to read and write, and how he eventually became a free man after surviving the horrors of slavery. He later learns about the history and true injustice of slavery as he educates himself using various strategies. By contrast, George Fitzhugh writes in “Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters” that slavery is not oppressive, but rather a means to protect African Americans. Being a supporter of slavery, he attempts to justify his opinion by discussing the economic implications of slavery. Fitzhugh was not a slave, and believes that slavery shielded slaves from the harshness of the capitalist economy of the United States. He was under the impression that the free market is a brutal place and that there was a “white slave trade” as opposed to the African American slave trade. In essence, Fitzhugh makes slavery seem not as bad as it is. Although Fitzhugh argues that the slaves did not have to face the oppressiveness of capitalism, Douglass believes that slavery was unjust and atrocious.
Fitzhugh believes that the slaves got off easy by being dependent on their masters, as any non-slave was forced to take care of themselves. Fitzhugh’s intende...
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...earns of the true nature of slavery. Douglass uses courage, determination, and perspicacity to learn how to read and write. Therefore, it was uncommon for someone to read writings from a slave’s point of view. On an intellectual perspective, Douglass became just as educated as his masters, if not more. He would tirelessly copy his master’s school books and use deception to achieve his goal. As he gains more knowledge, Douglass makes it his goal to escape to the North and become a free man. To ask Fitzhugh, why would someone who was “loved” by his masters want to escape and become depressed after learning the truth about slavery? People that downplayed slavery played a significant role in keeping slavery alive in the South. While laborers had to face some adversity, it is preposterous to suggest that the slaves were better off due to the brutal conditions of slavery.
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