Frederick AugustusWashington Bailey was born into slavery sometime around 1818, in Talbot County,Maryland and died February 20, 1895. The exact year and date of his birth is unknown,but he chose to celebrate it on February 14. Although slaves were banned fromlearning how to read and write, a slaveholder’s wife taught Frederick thealphabet and how to read. He continued his learning from other white childrenand reading the newspaper.
Through reading, Frederick’s opposition to slaverytook place. Frederick became one of the most famous African Americanabolitionist, reformer, write, and orator. Asa youngster, Frederick scarcely knew his mom and never knew his dad.
His momwas a slave when Frederick was conceived so he turned into a slave as well.When he was first conceived his name was Frederick Bailey. His mom died when hewas 10 years of age. Frederick moved to the Wye House ranch around this time. Acouple of years after the fact he was sent to live with the Auld family inBaltimore. At roughly 12 years of age, Frederick started to figure out how toread. Mr. Auld’s wife taught him the alphabet.
In those days it was unlawful toeducate a slave. Mr. Auld discovered and requested and demanded his wife quithelping him.However,Frederick was an intelligent, driven, and determined young man and had a wantfor information so he kept on discovering approaches to figure out how to read.After some time, he secretly showed himself to better read and write. WhenDouglass had figured out how to read, he read daily papers and differentarticles about slavery. He started to shape his own suppositions on humanrights and how individuals ought to be dealt with.
He additionally instructed andtaught different slaves how to read, however this eventually got him intotrouble. He was moved to another ranch where he should have been”tamed” and was beaten by the slave owner to break his soul andspirit. Nevertheless, this alone strengthened Douglass’ want to pick up hisopportunity and get his freedom.In1838, Douglass arranged his escape. He camouflaged himself as a sailor andcarried papers that indicated he was a free black sailor. He at that pointboarded a ferry and a ship heading to the north. After extended periods of timeof travel, Douglass touched base in New York a liberated black man. He then metand married a lady named Murray, and took the last name Douglass.
Douglass andMurray settled down in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They were married for a longtime before she died. They had five kids together. Whilein Massachusetts, Douglass met with individuals who were against slavery too.These individuals were called abolitionists since they wanted to”abolish” slavery. He started to peruse an abolitionist daily papercalled The Liberator.
In 1841, he met the publisher and author of TheLiberator, William Lloyd Garrison. He hired Douglass to work with him as aspeaker that traveled and spoke with him. While traveling, Douglass recountedthe story of his life and hardships to the daily papers.Thispoint in Frederick Douglass’s life sparked a new beginning to his career.
Eventhough he became famous, this also put him in risk of being captured by his previousslave owners. Although his story brought some to tears, many believed they werelies. Frederick started to talk at gatherings about his encounters as a slave.He was a magnificent speaker and moved individuals with his story. Because ofhis eloquent speaking abilities, it was hard for people to believe he grew upon a plantation. Frederick Douglass did not care what people had to say abouthim. Douglass turned into an abolitionist writer and speaker.
At 23 years ofage, Douglass turned into a speaker and joined a few developments including theAmerican Anti-Slavery Society. His public appearances and speeches paved a wayfor his first autobiography Narrative ofthe Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. By1845, the Narrative of the Life ofFrederick Douglass, An American Slave had gone through nine editions inEngland alone. The book was very successful, and it was also translated intothree languages. This autobiography by Frederick Douglass sparked a flame inmany promoting the abolishment of slavery. Although the Narrative received many positive reviews, there were just as manythat opposed it. It was hard to believe that in just seven years of his escape,he was able to write such a powerful account of his time in bondage and how heovercame adversity and hardships. Douglass put in two years in Europeaddressing the horrors of slavery.
He turned out to be extremely famous inGreat Britain, where his speeches and gatherings were “standing roomonly.” The general population of Great Britain, inspired by Douglass’speeches, raised money on his behalf to pay his former slave owner Hugh Auld,for his official freedom. Auld was paid 700 pounds by the supportiveindividuals of Great Britain and Douglass was authoritatively a freed man inAmerica. In 1848, he also reinforced the woman’s activist movement andparticipated and took part in the Seneca Falls Convention. Uponhis landing back to America, Douglass published The North Star and four otherabolitionist daily papers under the maxim “Right is of no Sex — Truth is of noColor — God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren (Nussbaum).
” Helikewise pushed for equal education for black children. As his reputation and popularitydeveloped, Douglass turned into a counsel to Abraham Lincoln and AndrewJohnson. “Douglass led a growing movement that caused a split in theAbolitionist movement; Douglass and others believed the US Constitution was ananti-slavery document, while William Lloyd Garrison believed it was apro-slavery document (Nussbaum).” “In addition, Garrison believed that TheNorth Star was competing for readers with his own newspaper, the NationalAnti-Slavery Standard (Nussbaum).” “Frederick Douglass andWilliam Lloyd Garrison held very different political theologies, even whilethey seemed to work productively together from 1841 to 1847 (Morris).”Bythe time of the start of the Civil War, Douglass was one of the nation’s mostprominent black men. The North Star eventually merged with other newspapers andwas called the Frederick Douglass Paper.
Douglass had hope that the primarycause of the Civil War was to liberate the slaves. “During the Civil War, heinitially criticized the administration for not directly moving against slaveryand accepting black troops, but he was also an active supporter of the Unioncause, an advisor to Lincoln, and when the time came, a recruiter of blacktroops (Finkelman).” “After the CivilWar, he became a Republican activist, held numerous appointed offices, and wasa constant advocate of black rights (Finkelman).
” “In 1872, he became the firstblack ever chosen as a presidential elector and was given the honor ofpersonally delivering New York’s electoral votes to Congress (Finkelman).”Douglassproceeded in the battle for the privileges and rights of the liberated slaves.After the death of President Lincoln, Douglass gave an unscripted andunrehearsed speech at his commemoration. While Douglass’ speech said Lincoln’sinsufficiencies in the fight against bondage, he gave Lincoln much credit forthe opportunity of the slaves “Can any colored man, or any white man friendlyto the freedom of all men, ever forget the night which followed the first dayof January 1863, when the world was to see if Abraham Lincoln would prove to beas good as his word? (Douglass).” A rousing standing ovation followed thespeech. It is said that his wife, Mary Lincoln, was so moved by his speech thatshe gave Douglass Lincoln’s favorite walking stick.In1855, he published his second autobiography was called My Bondage and My Freedom.
This book explored in greater detail histransition from bondage to freedom. This second autobiography is an extensionof his first autobiography. My Bondageand My Freedom explores his story of a traveling lecturer. His last autobiographywas named Life and Times of FrederickDouglass. This one gave detail about his life as a slave, his escape, andhis connections to the anti-slavery movement, as well as many other significantmilestones in his life. Histhree autobiographies are viewed as critical works of the slave story customand in addition works of art of American history. “The Narrative of the Life ofFrederick Douglass An American Slave Written by Himself (1845); My Bondage andMy Freedom (1855); and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881; 1892), haveprovided literary critics and historians with a vast literature that exploresslavery, African-American community, nineteenth century society, and theabolitionist movement (Jabour & Luckett).
“Thereare several powerful themes that Frederick Douglass explored in his writings.The voice that Douglass gives his writing is one of power. He demands to beheard and made that clear throughout his lectures and speeches. He wrote threeinfluential autobiographies that hit home for many people.
His motivation towrite about the difficulties he endured as a slave was to both inform people ofthe evil, graphic nature of slavery, and to give those African Americans thatnever had a voice, one that can be heard. Slaveryis a big theme for Frederick Douglass. Everything he said about slavery wastrue and he wanted people to understand the cruelty of it. He painted a picturefor many readers to help them understand what he and his family went through.
He devoted his time and attention to writing and lecturing about the importantof abolishing slavery. He showed how slaveholders tried to keep slaves ignorantand illiterate by refusing the learning or reading and writing. FrederickDouglass believed if everyone is equal, everyone should know how to read andwrite. During this time people believed slavery was a way of life. Theybelieved blacks were animals and were not capable of being a part of society. Douglass explores the difference between the fact thatslaves are actual human beings and the slave owners treat them like worthlessproperty.
Douglass writes on how slaves are frequently sold to owners,regardless of where their mother, father, or siblings are. Slave owners value slaves just to the degree of how much workwould they be able to produce; they treated slaves like creatures for reasonsunknown.Slaveholders forced slaves to do work by beating or whipping them. “Groups ofslaves, under the command of an overseer, were forced; typically, with whips,clubs, and threats; to perform a single repetitive task from the break of dawnuntil night (Puchner).
” Slaves felt as if whites had some type of authority andthey had to obey or the punishment would be severe, sometimes even death. Hisautobiographies explain the silent power whites had over their slaves anddidn’t even realize. FrederickDouglass also wrote about freedom. He had a desire to pursue it and be a partof it. By learning how to read, he realized slavery is not right and it shouldbe stopped. Douglass escaped himself and gained his own freedom.
He did notescape without thinking it through. That’s where his knowledge came into play.Upon gaining this freedom, it would not have been possible without educationand knowledge. It is from Mrs. Auld that he learns that knowledge is the way tofreedom. Knowledgewas very important to Douglass. He saw Mr. Auld’s reaction to his wife teachinghim how to read.
At a young age, he was able to see how whites keep a hold andinvisible leash around blacks. By taking away their freedom and ability tolearn how to read and write, they feel whites have the power. Basically, theestablishment of slavery depended on the ability to keep slaves as uneducatedand unenlightened as possible. By engaging in knowledge, Douglass was able toescape and become a free man before he was legally free. Douglass showed hislife as a long process of self-transformation; from a slave that is basicallytreated like an animal, to a free human with a name and a voice. Douglassimproved his own self-education. He also improved the education of otherslaves.
Slaveholders did not think slaves should be allowed to have aneducation. They believed if slaves had an education, they could read and jointhe abolishment movements. Again, Frederick Douglass believed all people werecreated equally, and this included the ability to get an education. That’s whywhen he learned to read and write, he did what he could to teach others, whichconsequently got him in trouble.
To him, one of the worst things about slaveryis the prevention of education to African Americans. The information Douglassgained through self-education broadened his understanding of the establishmentof slavery and how-to slaveholders tried to keep them ignorant. His ownself-education strengthened his desire to free himself. Fredericknot only wanted to be free, he wanted his truth to be heard. He hoped showingthe truth will eventually bring justice and the abolishment of slavery. He knewpeople never believed slaves or former slaves, so he made sure to make it knownthat these were the truth. It was very rare that people argued in favor ofslavery or a former slave.
Douglass also speaks on the inability to speaktruthfully as a slave. Slaves were often punished for speaking aloud or speakinghonest about how they felt in situations. Douglass’s freedom not only allowedhim to escape horrible treatment, but it also gave him an opportunity to speaktruthfully and honestly. Douglassknew the struggles he faced fighting for his freedom. He believed, “If there isno struggle, there is no progress; those who profess to favor freedom, and yetdepreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; theywant rain without thunder and lighting, they want the ocean without the awfulroar of its many waters, this struggle may be a moral one; or it may be aphysical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle; powerconcedes nothing without a demand; it never did, and it never will (Douglass).”Douglass did an inspiring job clearly displaying thesethemes in his autobiographies. The themes ofhis stories not only touch people, but show that there were such things aseducated and self-determined slaves. His stories show the truth about how theestablishment of slavery was during this time.
Douglass used his voice for theslaves that couldn’t. He wrote for the slaves that could not write and read forthe ones that could not read. “He protested the discriminatory practices ofsegregated employment, education, worship, and public transportation(Douglass).” He motivated and taught many other slaves during his time. Thethemes in his writing match hand in hand to kind of man Frederick Douglass was. Although Douglass wasa slave, his mind was not enslaved.
He believed all people were createdequally, and were not subjected to being treated like animals. “Bya principle essential to Christianity, a PERSON is eternally differenced from aTHING; so that the idea of a HUMAN BEING, necessarily excludes the idea of PROPERTYIN THAT BEING. —Coleridge (Douglass).” He believedthe only way man can be slaved is by remaining ignorant and uneducated. At ayoung age, Douglass realized the key to his freedom was knowing how to read. Hebecame a great writer and speaker and moved people with his words. Borninto slavery, Frederick Douglass could have easily remained illiterate and diedthat way. He had extreme perseverance and self-discipline.
After a long anddifficult life, Frederick Douglass is now known as one of the most powerfulleaders of the anti-slavery movement. He wrote his autobiographies to show thehorrid life slaves had to endure. He was self-educated, driven, and died a freeman. He fought for the abolishment of slavery till the day he died. The themesin his writings were not meant just to tell his story; they were what he livedby. He believes in truth, self-education, he believed it was important to haveknowledge and speak up about slavery. Because of him, many people becameanti-slavery as well. To this day, he has influenced and inspired many peopleto want to have an education.