Frederick Douglass: An Exceptional Escape Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1102 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

Douglass' stress upon this issue, the effects of slavery upon the life of whites, also brings up another important aspect of the contradictions inherent in Douglass' life and profession as an abolitionist and narrator of his life -- he was always an ex-slave and a Black man speaking to a largely white audience. He had to tailor his experience, the specifically Black enslavement experience, for an audience unfamiliar with the South and the South's peculiar institution. Most of his audience, in other words, were white, usually Northern, progressive whites -- and, when he later lectured abroad, whites who were unfamiliar even with the American experience and system of Northern or Southern values. Thus, many members of his audience from both a literary and an auditory perspective would have had little experience with individuals whom were nonwhite, much less individuals whom had suffered the trials and tribulations of slavery.

Douglass had to make these listeners and readers care about the issue of abolition in a political and moral fashion. Thus, Douglass' life highlights yet another odd aspect of American racial relations of the 19th century -- those who enslaved African-Americans often knew African-Americans better, at least superficially, on a personal basis, while the Northerners whom formed the primary core audience for the abolitionist movement, were regionally and personally removed from African-Americans on a daily basis.

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Douglass was able to humanize and to render the experience of enslavement meaningful to his white audience. One way he was able to accomplish this was stressing his early love of letters. Unlike many slaves, Douglass had experienced an early, if difficult and rudimentary education from his first kind, white mistress and his associations with white schoolchildren. Although this hardly could be said to constitute an education as such, nor does it detract from the hard work and magnitude of achievements of his later attempts to inculcate himself in the world of English letters and literacy, it did provide him early exposure to language as a written medium. It whetted his appetite to learn more. It made it clear to him that he knew what he was being denied, what was missing from his life as a slave denied literacy.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Frederick Douglass: An Exceptional Escape Assignment

Thus, Frederick Douglass was born a slave, and became an American citizen -- but his life as a slave and his life as a literary author and lecturer was anything but typical, for his day, or even for today. His ability to draw strength from the horrors and also the good he experienced in his life was extraordinary, and his ability to render it emotionally as well as thematically comprehensible to those removed from these experiences was also extraordinary. Through the greatness of his efforts a reader of today is able to more fully appreciate the contradictions inherent to American racial relations of the 19th century, even though the age of Douglass stands removed from our own by more than a century.

Works Cited

Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass. HarperCollins: New York,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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