Slavery refers to the practice in which individuals are bought and sold as property to others, and these owners essentially control their lives, determining where they live and at what they work. It became the major institution of the South—a contributor to their wealth and growing economy—from the seventeenth century up until the mid-nineteenth century, when it became abolished by President Lincoln 's Emancipation Proclamation (in the South) and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (everywhere in the United States). One concern of slavery was the immoral, cruel treatment towards the slaves. In his account, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Frederick Douglass recalls his dreadful and tortuous experience as a slave during his adolescence and says that he never understood the injustices of slavery until he learned how to read, which then inspires him to leave his bonds and find freedom in the North. Therefore, education is vital to the climb towards liberation. Not only does it clear ignorance and make one aware of the cruel realities of slavery, it also encourages autonomy and joins together a community of slaves who aim for one goal: freedom.
Education was necessary to increase self-sufficiency within the slave and encourage autonomy. During the 1800s, slavery was a major contributor to a successful agricultural economy in the South, which required a source of free labor to aid in the production of cotton. So any threat to dismantle the slave system would be detrimental to the South; without slaves, revenues would drastically fall and the economy would collapse. To prevent such event from occurring, the slaveholders needed to keep th...
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...ed passes that would protected them from being recaptured. Although their attempts failed, Douglass was still successful in instilling the notion of freedom through education. In this sense, education would not only make one literate slave aware of slavery, but would also spread to a whole community of slaves and unite them with the desire to beat the system.
Frederick Douglass emphasizes in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave that education is very important to slaves, calling it the pathway to freedom. His own transformation from a slave into a man began with him learning how to read. From reading abolitionist works, such as the The Columbian Orator, he was able to realize the wrongs of slavery and spread the revelation to others, inspiring them to recognize themselves as men, not slaves, and fight for their freedom. Knowledge is power.
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