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Frederick Douglass

            Frederick Douglass and His Coping with Slavery.
             In 1619, the first African slave ship to come to America landed at Jamestown, Virginia. Brought by Dutch ships, slaves were imported in small groups at first, and grew in numbers as plantations became common in America. African slaves became an increasingly important element in the English colonies, particularly in the South, where they were fundamental to the economy and society. Although they were considered to be essential, the treatment of those enslaved was appalling. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is the story of one of the many persons bound by the institution of slavery. Unlike most slaves, however, Frederick Douglass not only learned to survive within the slave system, but he also managed to escape to freedom "an extraordinary act that, to this day, testifies to the power of the human spirit. Douglass used multiple strategies to cope with the injustices and violence of slavery both while a captive and as a free man. These strategies included the employment of his education, his physical and mental confidence, his faith in a higher power, and the ability to communicate as an abolitionist. .
             As a young boy, Douglass was ignorant of his enslavement. He did not know his date of birth or the identity of his father, nor was he aware of his position in life. He later explained the role that this ignorance played in the slave system: "To make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right- (Douglass 315). Like many of his fellow slaves, Douglass thought that his condition was "natural,"" and felt no need to challenge the injustices of slavery.
             Not until sometime later did Douglass begin to truly understand his condition, the gateway to this knowledge being his self-acquired education.

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