Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Dover Publications Inc., New York: 1995.
Frederick Douglass was born sometime in 1817. His exact date of birth is not known because Douglass was born into slavery. He was also of mixed race and believed his father was his first master Captain Anthony. Douglass' autobiography is his account of slavery and the ideas he produced from his experiences written to express his views and opinions. Douglass' personal experience with the brutality and oppression of slavery is vividly told with great detail. Not only does he describe the horrors and evils of slavery, he tells how he believes the institution was able to survive for so long.
The greatest fear of any slave owner was that of a slave rebellion. Douglass states the many ways he encountered, of making slaves submissive despite their advantage in number. In several instances he uses the imagery of a slave beating to support his stance on abolition. Slave owners used the physical abuse as a way to "break slaves and make them do what they were told or punish them for disobeying. However slaves were not only mistreated physically but mentally as well. Douglass attributes the survival of slavery, in many ways, to their mental oppression.
One important point he makes is that slave owners prevented slaves from developing a sense of self. As in Douglass' case this began on the very day a slave was born by keeping their date of birth from them. The slave owners thought no more of the slaves than they did any other animal on their farm and it was important that the slaves made no distinction between the two either. Another way in which slave owners ruled over slaves was that they kept families from forming. By keeping a family separated or diluting the importance of family the owner made certain that no fe