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Pre-Reading Questions. Respond to the following statements with Yes or No AND GIVE REASONS FOR YOUR ANSWER. All people are created equal. Everyone feels some kind of prejudice. Education occurs only inside the classroom.

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Pre reading questions
Pre-Reading Questions

  • Respond to the following statements with Yes or No ANDGIVE REASONS FOR YOUR ANSWER.

    • All people are created equal.

    • Everyone feels some kind of prejudice.

    • Education occurs only inside the classroom.

    • A person can only overcome adversity through self-determination and motivation.

    • Fear and ignorance keep prejudice alive.

Frederick douglass

Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Douglass s early life
Douglass’s Early Life

  • Born into slavery in 1818 – Talbot County, Maryland

    • Didn’t actually know birthday, chose February 14

  • Raised by grandmother, barely knew mother

  • Father likely slave master/plantation owner

  • Went to Baltimore to work for Hugh Auld

  • Sophia Auld taught him the alphabet until her husband forbade it

    • It was against the law to teach slaves to read

  • Tricked children in neighborhood to teach him letters and give him homework and books

The covey plantation escape
The Covey Plantation & Escape

  • Sent to work for Edward Covey in 1833

  • Covey was a known “slave breaker”

  • Covey almost broke Frederick with repeated beatings and abuse

  • After Frederick fought back and won, he was never beat by Covey again

  • Attempted slavery twice before being successful

  • In September 1838, escaped with the help of Anna Murray, who would later be his wife

  • He and Anna took the name Douglass and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Douglass on reading
Douglass on Reading

  • Douglass saw reading as his pathway to freedom

  • He credited The Columbian Orator (the first book he bought and read) with defining his views on human rights.

  • Douglass taught slaves at the plantation how to read the Bible during Sunday services until a group from town broke it up permanently with stones and clubs.

  • After marriage, Douglass subscribed to William Lloyd Garrison’s weekly journal The Liberator.

  • It was through Garrison that Douglass entered the lecturing circuit

Douglass the orator
Douglass the Orator

  • Douglass spoke at several abolitionist meetings on the speaking circuit

  • Whites doubted he was an actual slave because he was so well-spoken

  • Douglass fled to Ireland for two years until he could buy his freedom

  • When he returns in 1847 (a free man), he produced abolitionist papers

  • His paper, The North Star, had the motto “Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.

  • Douglass fought for women’s rights as well as abolition

Firsts for douglass
Firsts for Douglass

  • Douglass was the first African American on a presidential ballot in 1872

    • Vice Presidential running mate of the Equal Rights Party

  • Douglass was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention in 1848

    • Douglass said that he couldn’t take the right to vote as a black man if women did not have the same rights (although he did with the passage of the 15th Amendment)

The slave narrative as literature
The Slave Narrative as Literature

  • Slave Narratives are essential literature of the Romantic Period

  • From 1760-1947, more than 200 book-length slave narratives were published in the US and England

  • The 19th-cenruy “ante-bellum” (the period before a war) slave narrative:

    • Arouse sympathy and humanitarian impulses of readers

    • Emphasize traditional Christian religious ideas

    • Show acceptance of ideals of dominant white society

    • Emphasize cruelty of individual slave owners

Rags to riches story
“Rags to Riches” Story

  • Compared to “Rags to Riches” stories and autobiographies (like Benjamin Franklin’s)

    • Tells of confrontations with different cultures and customs

    • Emphasizes narrator’s rise to greater understanding, self-reliance, and awareness of self-worth

    • Gives detailed descriptions of cruelty of slavery and harm done to whites and blacks

    • Contrasts kindness of some individual whites to cruelties of other individual whites and the system of slavery as a whole

    • Contrasts brutality reality of slavery to the benign ideals of the nominally Christian society in which it exists

Slave narrative popularity
Slave Narrative Popularity

  • Lurid scenes of horror and violence appeal to popular appetite for sensationalism

  • Religious emphasis useful as didactic story & moral lesson

  • Interesting descriptions of Southern life and institution of slavery

  • Useful as abolitionist propaganda

  • Douglass’s narrative called a “landmark in the literary crusade against slavery” and “one of the most influential pieces of reform propaganda in American literature”

    • Story-telling tone

    • Readability and simple, direct prose

    • Believability

    • Power to evoke sympathy and arouse emotion

Like franklin rowlandson
Like Franklin & Rowlandson

  • “Traditional American Autobiography” like Franklin:

    • Doesn’t only describe the life of an individual

    • Stands as a guide to life for others

    • Report of the discovery of the self

  • Like Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative

    • Frederick was taken from safety (grandmother) to confrontation of evil (slavery)

    • Suffers from forced existence in alien society

    • Unable to submit or effectively resist

    • Balances the yearning for freedom against perils of escape

    • Sees his condition as symbol of suffering of all oppressed

    • Grows in moral and spiritual strength as result of suffering and torment

Brief biography video
Brief Biography Video

Complete 46 minute video can be seen at