Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick DouglassThank you Mr. Douglass…this was a life changer for me. You are a true American hero and the fact that there are not more monuments, government buildings, holidays or other commemorations of your life seems to me an oversight of epic proportions.
How often is it that you can honestly say that you’ll never be the same after reading a book? Well, this life story of a singular individual has changed me....irrevocably. I will never be able to sufficiently express my gratitude to Mr. Douglass for that extraordinary gift of insight. I’m just not sure how to properly express how deeply this story impacted me both with its content and its delivery. Impressive seems such a shallow word. I guess I will call it a unique and special experience and simply state that this autobiography has been added to my list of All Time Favorites .
Being a fan of history, in general, and American history, in particular, I was somewhat familiar with Frederick Douglass and his reputation for being a great orator and a tireless opponent of slavery. However, this is the first time I’ve actually read any of his writings and I was blown away, utterly, by the intellect, character and strength of this American hero. And make no mistake, this man was a HERO in every sense of the word. I can imagine few people in a generation with the combination of intelligence, strength of character, sense of morality, charity and indomitable will as Frederick Douglass.
Here is a man who, as a slave with little or no free time to himself, spent every spare moment he had teaching himself to read and write. Think about that. In a very telling passage, Douglass says that he knew how important it was to educate himself because of how vehemently his master was opposed to it. I’m paraphrasing, but his message was, ‘What my master saw as the greatest evil, I knew to be a perfect good.’ Such determination and clarity of thought boggles the mind. Rarely have a come across a person whose moral fiber I admire more (John Adams being the other historical figure that jumps to mind).
On the issue of slavery itself, I am resolved that there could be no better description of the horrendous evil of slavery than this book. I previously read Uncle Toms Cabin and, while an important novel, that story had nowhere near the effect on me that this one did. Again, thank you Mr. Douglass.
While there are many aspects of the narrative that are worthy of note (the quality of prose, the excellent balance between details and pace and the fascinating events described), the most memorably impressive thing to me was the tone used by Frederick Douglass to describe his life and the people he came in contact with during his time both as a slave and after securing his freedom. Despite having seen and personally endured staggering brutality at the hands of white slave owners, Douglass never, NEVER comes across as bitter or hate-filled towards all white people. Had I been in his position, I am not sure I could have been so charitable with my outlook.
He speaks frankly and in stark terms about the evil and brutality suffered by himself and his fellow slaves. He sees great wrong and he confronts it boldly with his writing. However, he never generalizes people beyond his indictment of slavery and slave holders. He doesn’t stereotype or extend his anger beyond those whom he rightfully condemns. That is a person of great strength and even greater charity. The dignity of the man is humbling to behold.
After finishing this inspirational, never-be-the-same autobiography, Frederick Douglass has joined my pantheon of American heroes right along side George Washington and John Adams. I plan to read further works by Douglass and can not more strenuously urge others to do the same.
6.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
T he slave trade and its legacy has become an important sub-theme in this series. If there is one African American who can make the strongest claim to be the godfather of the literature derived from the black American experience, it must be Frederick Douglass Throughout his long career, Douglass cut an imposing figure, renowned as an impassioned abolitionist, a fiery writer and newspaper editor. He was a great public speaker, who became a one-man crusade for black liberation, part of it conducted in collaboration with Abraham Lincoln , the president who would secure the end of slavery. As a spokesman for his people, Douglass distilled his fortunes into a sequence of vivid personal narratives — this memoir would be followed by two further autobiographies — which, at a time when very few slaves could read or write, captured the imagination of the American reading public. According to many accounts, the determination from his earliest years to escape bondage set Douglass apart. He was born into slavery in the Chesapeake shore, Maryland.
White abolitionists urged slave writers to follow well-defined conventions and formulas to produce what they saw as one of the most potent propaganda weapons in their arsenal. Yet for the writers themselves, the opportunity to tell their stories constituted something more personal: a means to write an identity within a country that legally denied their right to exist as human beings. Working cautiously within the genre expectations developed by and for their white audiences, highly articulate African American writers such as Douglass and Jacobs found ways to individualize their narratives and to speak in their own voices in a quest for selfhood that had to be balanced against the aims and values of their audiences. Harriet Jacobs A comparison of the narratives of Douglass and Jacobs demonstrates the full range of demands and situations that slaves could experience. Some of the similarities in the two accounts are a result of the prescribed formats that governed the publication of their narratives. Slave narrators also needed to present their credentials as good Christians while testifying to the hypocrisy of their supposedly pious owners.
In September , Abraham Lincoln gave notice that he intended to free the slaves held in states still in rebellion against the Union, a promise fulfilled by the Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, Lincoln himself remains the subject of scrutiny and celebration as the nation marks the th anniversary of that major step toward the abolition of American slavery. The book found a wide transatlantic audience and went through many printings, but like most accounts of slave life it fell from favor as memory of the Civil War receded into myth and popular historical narratives tended toward reconciliation.
how do you say beloved
LETTER FROM WENDELL PHILLIPS, ESQ.
Technically, Frederick Douglass's book is an autobiography. After all, it's the story of his life from the time of his birth to the time he wrote the book, in But it also has a lot of important omissions. For example, there's Douglass's announcement that he's gotten married, which comes totally out of the blue. Where, when, and how did he meet this woman? That tells us that this isn't just an autobiography.