Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglas

Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglas

by Frederick Douglas


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Douglass' Narrative begins with the few facts he knows about his birth and parentage; his father is a slave owner and his mother is a slave named Harriet Bailey. Here and throughout the autobiography, Douglass highlights the common practice of white slave owners raping slave women, both to satisfy their sexual hungers and to expand their slave populations. In the first chapter, Douglass also makes mention of the hypocrisy of Christian slave owners who used religious teachings to justify their abhorrent treatment of slaves; the religious practice of slave owners is a recurrent theme in the text.
Throughout the next several chapters, Douglass describes the conditions in which he and other slaves live. As a slave of Captain Anthony and Colonel Lloyd, Douglass survives on meager rations and is often cold. He witnesses brutal beatings and the murder of a slave, which goes unnoticed by the law or the community at large. Douglass argues against the notion that slaves who sing are content; instead, he likens singing to crying - a way to relieve sorrow. Douglass also draws attention to the false system of values created by slavery, in which allegiance to the slave master is far stronger than an allegiance to other slaves.
When he is seven or eight years old, Douglass is sent to Baltimore to live with the Auld family and care for their son, Thomas. Mrs. Auld gives Douglass reading lessons until her husband intervenes; Douglass continues his lessons by trading bread for lessons with poor neighborhood white boys and by using Thomas' books. Soon, Douglass discovers abolitionist movements in the North, including those by Irish Catholics.
Several years later, as a result of his original owner's death, Douglass finds himself being lent to a poor farmer with a reputation for "breaking" slaves. Douglass spends a year with Covey, who cruelly and brutally whips the slave until Douglass finally fights him. From that day on, Covey leaves Douglass alone.
Douglass lives for a time with William Freeland, a kind master, and Douglass finds a family among the other slaves there. Douglass becomes a Sunday school teacher to other slaves, a position he enjoys. Although this situation is better than any he has experienced, it is still a far cry from freedom, so Douglass attempts to escape by canoeing up the Chesapeake Bay. He is caught and eventually finds himself working again for Hugh Auld in Baltimore. First, he runs errands for shipyard workers, but he after some of the workers heckle and strike Douglass, he fights back and is nearly beaten to death. Working at a different shipyard after the fight, Douglass becomes proficient at ship caulking, but he is forced to turn his wages over to Auld. Douglass soon makes an arrangement with Auld to hire himself out and give Auld a set amount of wages each week. Douglass is allowed to pocket the rest, thus saving enough for his escape to New York.
After his escape, Douglass is advised to move to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and he settles there with his new wife, Anna Murray. Douglass makes a living doing odd jobs; he is unable to find work as a caulker, however, because the white caulkers refuse to work with blacks, fearing the former slaves will take over their jobs. Although he still fears being caught and returned to the South, Douglass attends an anti-slavery convention, where he is encouraged to speak. This forms the beginning of his life in the public eye, speaking and writing in favor of the abolition of slavery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781505432206
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 12/09/2014
Pages: 162
Sales rank: 761,883
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey about 1818 and died February 20, 1895 in Washington DC, is an American politician and writer. Born a slave, he was one of the most famous American abolitionists of the nineteenth century. His book The Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself is a classic testimony of slaves who experienced a significant impact when it was published
Nicknamed "The sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia", he was a candidate (despite himself) to the vice-presidency of the United States along with Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for the position of president United States, for the equality Party of Rights (equal Rights Party). He claimed throughout his life his firm belief in the equality of all, blacks, women, natives and recent immigrants. His favorite adage said: "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."
A childhood in plantations.
Born a slave in Talbot County (Maryland), on a date that he does not even know exactly but he estimated at 1818, he is separated from his mother Harriet Bailey while he was still an infant. He was seven when she dies: he did so for four or five times in his life. The identity of his father remains obscure: Douglass suspected that his father was a white man, perhaps the master of his mother; but he later claimed to know nothing of the identity of his father. He has two sisters and a brother but by his own admission, "the premature death of [her] mother was almost removed from [their] mind the reality of [their] relationship."
He spent his early years with his grandmother on the outskirts of the main plantation. At age six, he moved to the Wye House plantation, near the home of its owner, Colonel Edward Lloyd, one of the richest men in the state, which has an estimated Douglass nearly a thousand slaves. He discovers this opportunity of living in a very wealthy plantation in the southern United States and in particular the violence of the relationship between whites and slaves. It is particularly marked by the first session of corporal punishment he witnesses: her aunt is long whipped, suspended by the arms, the main controller, Captain Anthony, for being seen with a man he had forbidden her attendance .

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