surprisingly similar to that made by political activists in the U.S. today, who demand that marginalized people--people of color, women, racial minorities, gays and lesbians--be represented. Phillips refers to the anti-slavery movement in Britain which ended slavery in British colonies in the aribbean (West Indies). The "experiment" apparently had no horrendous or negative effect on British society or on its economy. Furthermore, Phillips urges abolitionists to look beyond simple moral arguments. For example, he cites abolitionists whose only argument is that it is not right for Southerners to justify slavery on conomic grounds. (Some pro-slavery advocates warned that eliminating slavery in the aribbean would lead to an increase in the price of sugar.) There are many other arguments one can make against slavery, Phillips says, presenting slavery as an issue that is absolutely antithetical to the very foundations of a free America. Plymouth Rock once offered refuge to the oppressed; it should do so again. Phillips' comments about fugitive slaves being hunted refers to the existence of slave hunters, whose sole livelihood was capturing fugitives in the North for a bounty. Slave hunters were later legitimized under the Fugitive Slave Act. As part of the Great ompromise of 1850, ongress passed a bill forbidding new slave states but allowing fugitive slaves to be captured and returned to their owners. The measure preserved the Union for a few more years. Phillips understands that there is racism in the North, that the black person there enjoys only partial rights ("a twilight of rights"), but this situation, he feels, is better than the "noon of night" (midnight), under which slaves labor in the South. __________________ • a halter about their neck a rope around their neck, or in danger of death. • desolate a deserted place. • MS the abbreviation for manuscript. CHAPTER I Douglass begins his Narrativ by explaining that he is like many other slaves who don't know when they were born and, sometimes, even who their parents are. From hearsay, he estimates that he was born around 1817 and that his father was probably his first white master, aptain Anthony. His mother, Harriet Bailey, was a field hand who wasn't allowed to see him very often; she died when Douglass was seven years old. hildren of mixed-race parentage are always classified as slaves, Douglass says, and this class of mulattos is increasing rapidly. Douglass implies that these mulatto slaves are, for the most part, the result of white masters raping black slaves. He tells about the brutality of his master's overseer, Mr. Plummer, as well as the story of Aunt Hester, who was brutally whipped by aptain Anthony because she fancied another slave. aptain Anthony apparently wanted her for himself exclusively. Commentary From the very beginning of his Narrativ, Douglass shocks and horrifies his readers. Not only does he vividly detail the physical cruelties inflicted on slaves, but he also presents a frank discussion about sex between white male owners and female slaves.
liffs Notes on Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass © 1996 10
- Spring '14
- The Bible, Candide, Frederick Douglass, Emancipation Proclamation, Test, Nature, The American, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Self-Reliance, Slavery in the United States, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rights of Man, The Declaration of Independence, Fugitive Slave Act of 1850