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The Life and Times of Frederick Douglas

Introduction

The narrative of Frederick Douglas is written by the narrator who is actually Frederick himself. It covers his life especially the period of slavery, the way he escaped from the bondage, the connection he had with the movements of the anti slavery as well as the history since 1818 to 1895. The narrative talks of the labors he was involved in especially in the Great Britain and his country. It also talks about the experience he obtained working for the influential newspaper, the connection he had with the railroad underground and the relations he had with the Ferry Raid in Harpers and John Brown. Frederick Douglas achieved a lot as he recruited the masses (54th and the 55th mass); he had interviews together with Johnson and Lincoln, was appointed by the general and was also given the grant to accompany Commission of Santo Domingo (De Wolfe and Fiske, 1892). Frederick Douglas was appointed by President Hayes as the Marshal in the United States and as the Recorder of Deeds by President Garfield in Washington. There are many other important and interesting events in the life of Frederick Douglas.

This paper will look at the slavery through Frederick Douglass' experiences from his autobiography, his opinions concerning the slave system, slave masters, slavery, his religious faith, his ambitions and dreams first as a slave and then as a fugitive. It will also seek to discuss his introduction to the world of abolitionists, his extensive work as an abolitionist at home and abroad, and his views on the purchase of his freedom. I will also look at his views on the Constitution, and, finally, analyze his views on the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and his work in the Civil War.

Frederick Douglas

The main aim of the narration by Douglass is to show the way slavery institutions work and the reason they work this way. He demystifies slavery as well as reveals the wrongness and brutality of the slave institutions. This is because of the fact that many people believed that slavery was a natural practice. Their economic and religious arguments showed that the black people were inferior to the whites and, therefore, were to be enslaved and given hard labor. Frederick Douglas, therefore, points clearly that slavery is sustained through the contrived and concrete strategies of holding and gaining power against the black people. Douglass has showed the way slaves are made vulnerable by isolating them from their families by the slave owners. The blacks are not regarded as sub humans; they are dehumanized by the cruel slavery practices. In chapter one, Douglass describes the way the slave owners impregnate women. He also depicts the sufferings of these children of the slaves. This is a clear demonstration of how slavery is dehumanizing to the slaves (Douglass, 1845). The slaves were also beaten, and this made Douglass feel a lot of pain because he was not able to stop this. The torture the slaves underwent were not only physical but also psychological as they were made to fear their masters and worry for their safety. These physiological effects are more than lash wounds.

Further, in his narration, the author continues to describe the slave system, which was inhuman, by telling the case of the murder of Mr. Gore, Mr. Hick who killed a female servant as well as Beal Bondly who killed an elderly slave of Colonel Lloyd. These incidents support the claims Douglass makes about the slavery. He also talks about a black man who was killed by a white man and, in all these cases, there is nothing legal in these actions. In chapter four, the writer looks at the way the slaves are punished for no reason. They are over whipped even when they do not deserve it. An example is when Colonel Lloyd meets his own slave on the road who slave tell he is ill and gets punished later by the master. The slaves must, therefore, become paranoid and experience feelings that it is a must for them to be punished whether they are the wrong or not.

The slaves' masters are described as cruel. Mr. Gore is one of them, and Douglass says in an ironical statement that he is a first rate overseer, but, in reality, implies that Mr. Gore is a good overseer only to those people who have no sense of justice. When Douglass goes to live with Aulds, he is taught alphabets by Mrs. Auld. She is later stopped by the husband who claimed that education would ruin the slave system. This enlightens Douglass a lot. He gets to know that the slave owners have power over the slaves because they deprive them of ideas and education. He then realizes that he should first be educated so that he can be free. He also notes that the slave owners are wicked and cruel. His cousin was abused and beaten cruelly in Tuckahoe by his overseer. The overseer, Mr. Plummer was a drunkard and Douglass says that he was never fit to be in the management. A story of a young woman leaves without informing the overseer and walks twelve miles, covered with scars, which are fresh (Lobb, 2013). Her face is soaked with blood, which demonstrated that the young woman had been beaten. Douglass says that his master was not surprised, and he said that the woman deserved the beating. Douglas, therefore, came to realize that such treatment is part of the slavery system. This describes the merciless masters who had no mercy to their servants.

In the aspect of religion, Douglass comes to realize that there is no better friend than God when he was at the age of thirteen years. His mind had awakened to faith while he was very lonely and in destitution (Lobb, 2013). He had longed for a comforter, a protector and a father. A Methodist minister, Hanson through his preaching makes Douglass realize that God is the best friend. He enlightens him that all men whether small or great, are all sinners in the eyes of God. They are rebels in His government and have to repent their sins and reconcile with Him through Jesus Christ. Charles Lawson advises Douglass to pray and place his care upon the Lord; and when he did so, he felt that his burden was light and became relieved. He starts to view the world in a better way and wishes that everybody could get be converted. The desire to learn makes him gather papers of the Bible, wash them and dry so as to read them during the free time. Douglass starts meeting Lawson who also likes reading the Bible, and they share a lot. The master did not know about this though he knew that Douglass had become religious.

He dreams that one day he would be a free man and fugitive. In the year 1836, he makes a resolution that he should be free and plans to escape. He was jailed after the plans had been discovered, but, two years later, his dream is realized when he runs away from the city; and after a long journey on the train, steam boat and then train he reaches New York and settles in a place called New Bedford (Resource Bank, 2012).

In the year 1841, Douglass is introduced to the abolitionists. There was an anti slavery convention at the Nantucket, which was organized by Mr. Garrishon and friends. Douglass decides to attend even though he does not want to take part in any movements.He is later called by Mr. William Coffin amidst the crowd to talk to the convention. He expresses his feelings and tells about the life he had passed through as a slave. He is nervous as he cannot stand upright and trembles being unable to utter words consistently. He gets embarrassed, and the crowd sympathizes with him (Lobb, 2013).

After the meeting, Mr. Collins, a general agent in the society of anti slavery waits for him. He requests Douglas to be an agent of the society. He reluctantly takes the position as he had stayed only for three years outside the slavery. He later agrees, and this opens a new life before him. He travels with George Foster to the anti slavery Liberator to get subscribers. Together they lecture in the eastern counties in Massachusetts.

It was rare to find the Fugitive slaves. The white men were seen as fools at that time confessing a runaway slave. Douglass did a lot in his extensive work as an abolitionist at home and abroad, and his views on the purchase of his freedom have been shared by many people. He lectures his experience of being a slave, provides names of people, dates and places so that people could believe him.

When the Americans become willing and ready to fight in the civil war, the union leaders and President Lincoln are not sure of involving black troops in the war. Douglass, who is known for his brave efforts of fighting slavery, as well as the skills of a public speaking, becomes a consultant of Lincoln and convinces him on making the slaves a part of the Union forces. It is made with an aim to manifest the war as the anti slavery campaign (America's story, 2012). The President accepts the idea and announces that the slaves are free and will also serve in the Union army. At the end of the war, over one hundred and eighty-six thousand men both African Americans had been enlisted. Douglass works in the capacity of a recruiter in many regions and signs up the slaves to serve in the Union army. Douglass also recruits Lewis and Charles who also join the 54th Massachusetts. This army unit consisted of black people who volunteered to fight a serious battle at South Carolina in a place called Fort Wagner in the year 1863.

Conclusion

The narrative of Frederick Douglass is full of stories. It covers his life especially in slavery, the way he escaped from the bondage, the connection he had with the movements of the anti slavery as well as the history since 1818 to 1895. The narrative describes a man who was determined in achieving his dream and never turned back until he had realized them.

This paper has discussed slavery through Frederick Douglass' experiences from his autobiography, Douglass' opinions concerning the slave system, slave masters, slavery and his religious faith, his ambitions and dreams first as a slave and then as a fugitive, his introduction to the world of abolitionists, his extensive work as an abolitionist, and his views on attaining his freedom. The views of Douglass on the Civil War, on Abraham Lincoln, and his work in the Civil War have been analyzed.