Frederick Douglass was a well spoken, highly descriptive author. His fluency with the English language was superb and, without a doubt, collegiate level. After reading his book, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, one would believe Douglass to be a highly educated man. The reality is, at the time Narrative was written, Douglass was a 27 year old escaped slave. Douglass was self educated, having no formal educational training. I was personally astounded by his spirit to learn, second only to his desire to be free.
In 1841, Douglass attended an anti-slavery convention in Nantucket. He had attended several before this one in particular but, "seldom had much to say. . . what I wanted to say was said so much better by others." (p.151). After being encouraged to speak, Douglass began reluctantly, but soon felt at ease speaking to the gathering. From that time forward, he became a leading speaker at anti-slavery meetings and wrote Narrative, his biography, in 1845 for use as an abolitionist tool. Douglass" stated his driving force for this work as: "Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing the light on the American slave system, and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds- (p. 159). .
However, Narrative may have been viewed by some white people, especially those in the South, as merely a work of fiction. It would have been common, amongst the majority of white people in that time period, to disbelieve anything a black person said. Unfortunately, Douglass" (a black man) first hand account of slavery did not cause as much of a controversy as Harriet Beecher-Stowe's (a white woman) non-fiction book, Uncle Tom's Cabin which was published later, in 1852. Personally having read both, I would have believed Narrative over Uncle, although I can understand why the vast majority of people enjoyed, and therefore believed, Uncle.