Frederick Douglas Narrative of the Life of Term Paper

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Frederick Douglas

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave recounts the horrible conditions that led to Douglass's contempt for slavery. Douglass suffered poverty, brutality, separation from family, and civil injustice all for what he believed to be for the financial benefit of white slave owners. Fear and educational and religious controls were instruments used to keep slaves in their place. But, with his strength and determination, Douglas would rebel against and overcome these controls. And, in the end, Douglass would find the accumulation of material wealth used to justify the atrocities of slavery was an illusion.

As a child, Douglas was underfed and forced to eat cornmeal must from a trough as though he was a pig. The only clothing the slave children had were two linen shirts per year which hung to their knees. When these failed them, the children were forced to go naked. In winter, the children had to huddle in the kitchen to keep warm because they had no beds or blankets. Slave master Thomas Auld starved his slaves, and they had to steal food from neighboring farms to survive. In sharp contrast, slave owner Colonel Lloyd kept ten to fifteen house servants and a thousand slaves on a plantation resembling a country village with magnificent gardens and spending riding equipage

To describe the wealth of Colonel Lloyd would be almost equal to describing the riches of Job. He kept from ten to fifteen house-servants. He was said to own a thousand slaves,

Douglass was subjected to witnessing brutal beatings, one of which was the lashing to the bare back of his own aunt. One slave overseer aptly named Mr. Severe would bloody women woman in front of their crying children who were begging for their mother's release. Douglass thought that Severe took pleasure in his fiendish behavior. Frederick would himself receive many beatings. The harshest was from a master named Edward Covey who continually whipped Frederick until he began to feel that he was broken. After collapsing in the field, Covey continued to kick and beat Frederick. Growing tired of Covey's months of abuse, Frederick defied the master and fought back even though legally a slave could be murdered for resisting his master.

Isolation from family was one of the many injustices of slavery that Douglass experienced. Frederick's mother was unable to visit her children on a frequent basis because of the distance between the farm where she worked and the slave plantation where the children lived. Frederick did not even learn of his own mother's death until much time had passed. Property division would often separate slave families and after Frederick's grandmother was deemed too old to work, she was evicted from her cabin and sent into the woods to die. Yet another property division would separate Frederick from a black…

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