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Frederick Douglass / engd. by A.H. Ritchie Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Frederick Douglass / engd. by A.H. Ritchie
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Frederick Douglass (about 1818-1895) was a slave of many masters, and wrote The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, his own autobiography, to expose how cruel slavery really was. The book he wrote was a very revolutionary eye-opener towards slavery, and is a book that I just finished reading myself.

Frederick Douglass was born in Talbot County, Maryland, and later could only guess how old he was. Separated from his parents, he witnessed the true nature of slavery as a young boy. Douglass’ first master’s name was Anthony. The overseer of the property was Mr. Plummer, a harsh and cruel man. Much whipping and torture occurred in those days. Slaves were never given enough food, and did not sleep in beds. It was a difficult time that should of never happened in the first place. Douglass had another overseer, Mr. Severe, who died soon afterworlds. After Mr. Severe, Mr. Gore took over as overseer. Mr. Gore once shot and killed a slave by the name of Demby who refused to take any more suffering. Douglass later recalled that the religious overseers and masters were the worst kind. After his master’s death, his grandmother, who had served her master so well, was cruelly sent to the woods to die.

After being transferred to work in Maryland, he later started learning to read and write from his new master’s wife. However, “that angelic face gave place to that of a demon” soon after Douglass’ master forbid him to read and write. Douglass, however, was not easily deterred, and soon learned these things, opening his eyes to the cruelty of slavery. Southern masters of slaves tried to keep their slaves from reading so as to surround them with hopelessness. They treated slaves as property, with little use. Douglass knew this was wrong, and longed for freedom. Douglass was then transferred to Mr. Covey. Mr. Covey was a very crafty overseer, but Douglas stood up to him and defeated him in a fight, establishing a strong reputation. Mr. Covey never laid a finger on him again. Douglass then tried to escape his master, but his idea was betrayed. However, he was relieved from slavery when he was purchased and then freed by David Ruggles, an abolitionist, and it is there that he ends his book.

Slavery was very wrong and very cruel. It was abolished after the Civil War, but its effects pertaining to racism can still be seen today (take for example the Charleston church shooting). It also seems to contradict the Constitution’s phrase “All men are created equal”.

Note: The book is available on Amazon.com (Kindle) for free, as it is part of the public domain. I highly recommend it.

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