Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass - Peter Bohlen History 127 The...

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Peter Bohlen History 127 The Influences on Frederick Douglass “The first step had been taken. Mistress in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.”(Douglass, 66) Teaching Frederick Douglass to read was in fact unwise for his slaveholder, as it became a crucial tool for Frederick Douglass to put together his thoughts on the emancipation of slaves. Once Douglass learned to read, there was little that could stop him from going on to reading works that denounced slavery, laying the tracks for his escape from slavery and his eventual work as an abolitionist. There were four main sources of documents and readings that influenced his eventual criticism of the institution of slavery. One of the first works that Douglass was introduced to as a young reader was “The Columbian Orator”. This book contained pieces that influenced Douglass such as “Dialogue between a Master and Slave”. At a later time in his life, after becoming a free man, he was greatly affected by readings within the “Liberator”. The Bible greatly inspired Douglass wihth its eloquent scripture. And lastly, another article that Douglass used to draw many of his arguments against slavery came from “The Declaration of Independence”. Each of these works contributed to Douglass’s criticism of the institution of slavery. The earliest influence on Frederick Douglass’s anti-slavery arguments came from “The Columbian Orator”. This collection of works was one of the first pieces of work that Frederick came across when he first started reading. Possibly the most influential pieces within “The Columbian Orator” was a dialogue between a master and his slave. Within this dialogue, we see that a slave is able to use well thought-out reason and logic in order to obtain his freedom. In Douglass’s words, “The moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of even a slaveholder.” We see that
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this reasoning is used much in the later times of his slavery. It is evident when Douglass tries to appeal to his slave masters feelings when he is in need of anything, including protection. An example of this is when Douglass runs away from Mr. Covey to his former slave master, after receiving a severe beating. Douglass approaches Master Thomas hoping that his physical state, covered in blood and wounds, and the story of the
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This note was uploaded on 11/03/2009 for the course BIOL 90726 taught by Professor Weakley during the Spring '09 term at UNC.

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Frederick Douglass - Peter Bohlen History 127 The...

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