• Tag Archives: Frederick Douglas

Frederick Douglass and the Fight for Freedom

fdFrederick Douglass was born enslaved. He knew nothing else, least of all freedom. Douglass admitted that he was not even aware of his situation until he was about ten years old. Some slaves were kidnapped into slavery, making their situation equally as terrible, having already known what freedom was and having it taken away from them. Douglass, like many other slaves, never knew freedom. Douglass’ fight for his freedom was nothing short of remarkable, and once he obtained his freedom, he did not stop there. Douglass could have enjoyed freedom and kept to himself. However, Douglass cared too much about what was right, as well as the freedom of others. Douglass played a huge role in the Abolition movement. Douglass said, “I am bound to speak, and whenever there is an opportunity to do so, I will speak against slavery.” (Cummings, 254) Douglass was extremely influential in his anti-slavery movements. Douglass made countless speeches against slavery, showing his eloquence and intelligence to all. He was an amazing orator and writer, intriguing all who listened and read. Douglass spent his entire free life speaking out against slavery and fighting for the freedom of all African Americans, all the while risking his life for what he believed in.

 

Frederick Douglass risked everything for what he believed in. Have you ever stood up for what you believe in? What were the results?

William Lloyd Garrison

The Liberator

The North Star

 

In the Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Society, by William Lloyd Garrison was a very interesting piece to read almost 200 years after it was written. The beliefs and the affirmations Garrison and the American Anti-Slavery Society stood for were very impressive for that time period. It was interesting to read on page 219 where Garrison said, “We also maintain that there are, at the present time, the highest obligations resting upon the people of the free States to remove slavery by moral and political action. They are now living under a pledge of their tremendous physical force, to fasten the galling fetters of tyranny upon the limbs of millions in the Southern States…”. This seems to me like Garrison is putting the blame and responsibility on the people living in the free States, not so much on the actual slave-owners. This was interesting because it felt that Garrison may have given on action from Congress doing something about slavery by saying, “But we maintain that Congress has a right, and is solemnly bound, to suppress the domestic slave trade between the several States, and to abolish slavery in those portions of our territory which the Constitution has placed under its exclusive jurisdiction”. It felt to me that Garrison knew the claims he and the Society were making were too much for Congress to handle at once and knew that putting the responsibility on the people of the free States was the best way to get his word out.

If there were more activists like Garrison, would the abolishment of slavery and the events leading up have gone any different, or was the action going to take it course like it did no matter what?

Fredrick Douglas & Slavery

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Fredrick Douglas, from an early age, showed that he was a person who was not afraid to pursue what he wanted.  As a young boy he taught himself to read although slaves were forbidden to have an education (Cummings 252).  He was so “spirited” that his master sent him to a “slave breaker” yet this didn’t deter Douglas who finally escaped to the North to join the abolitionist movement ( Cummings 253).

Douglas was very outspoken, not only criticizing the Southern slaveholder but also Northern citizens and the American political system for their implicit support of slavery.  In his Speech at the Anti-Slavery Association, Douglas states,”I want every man north of Mason and Dixon’s line, whenever they attend an antislavery meeting, to remember that it is Northern arm that does this; that you are not only guilty of withholding your influence, but that you are the positive holders of the slave, and that in your right arm rests the physical power that keeps him under the yoke” (Cummings 254). Douglas was harsh with those in the North that stood by and let laws stand that supported Southern slave-owners and their way of life.  He held them just as responsible for the evils of slavery as that were actually doing the buying and selling.

Many Americans at this time claimed that “the law is on our side” or “it is legal”.  However, Douglas had a different view about this attitude, “Friends, I wish to stab no man, but if you stand on the side of the slaveholder, and cry out “the Union as it is”, “the Constitution as it is,” “the Church as it is,” you may expect that the heart that throbs beneath this bosom, will give utterance against you.  I am bound to speak, and whenever there is opportunity to do so, I will speak against slavery…(Cummings 254).  Douglas considered his conscience more important than the status quo, regardless of the laws that supported the current situation.  He was not afraid to stand for what he believed was right and thought all people should do the same.

Douglas devoted his life to ending slavery, believing that all people deserved to be treated equally.  He was very honest and direct when he spoke about what he thought was right.  I have been in situations where I have believed that a cause or situation was so important that I had to speak up and do something about.  Sometime I have lost friends and the worst case, my parents and siblings no longer speak to me.  But some issues are that important, I think.  What is your opinion?  Is there an issue that you have advocated for that caused problems for you?


 

Cummings, Michael S. “Speech at Anti-Slavery Association (1848)”.  American Political Thought. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Sage, 2015. 253-255. Print.

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