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Fredrick Douglas Characters. Impact of Slavery Essay

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Updated: Jan 4th, 2022

Fredrick Douglas was born as a slave on the Shore of Eastern Maryland. His initial names were Fredrick Bailey and he only changed his names to Fredrick Douglas after escaping by train from Baltimore to Philadelphia. He changed his names so that he can escape from the slave catchers. After having been sent to live in Baltimore, Fredrick leant how to read and write secretly without the knowledge of anyone.

The impacts of slavery on the human conditions was that slavery denied people their fundamentals of like the capacity for bold action, a sense of community, personal identities, education and even fundamentals of owning a family. Slavery comprised of many inhuman treatments like beatings and lack of access to quality education. The white masters also committed a lot of sexual abuses on the slaves.

The institution of slavery drove and shaped the enslaved people to respond and behave in different ways in that Fredrick Bailey was forced to flee away from slavery and later changed his name to Fredrick Douglas so that to escape the slave catchers. On his escape, Fredrick Douglas became very committed in informing other people about the plight of slavery and the worse conditions of the fellow slaves he had left behind. On the other side, slavery drove Gabriel into organizing a rebellion against his masters which ended tragically for him. Gabriel was very annoyed at how the white masters treated the slaves and therefore, he saw the best way out that was not to flee like Fredrick Douglas did but to organize a revolt against his white masters (Douglas 171).

Gabriel was a literate slave who had planned to lead a rebellion against the white masters in 1800. Gabriel had initially planned the rebellion in the summer and spring of 1800 but torrential rains led to the postponement of the revolt. The white masters had all along been very suspicious of the rebellion. Information about the planned revolt was however leaked to the white masters before it was executed and therefore. One of the slaves gave out information regarding the rebellion with a promise of a reward which was not fully paid. As a result, Gabriel and Gabriel Prosser and some of the other members of who planned the rebellion were hanged. The death of Gabriel and his accomplices therefore led to the end of slavery and furthered the equality of the human race which has significantly prevailed in the light of the world history. Gabriel’s rebellion was a lesson which was intended to serve as an important example of the slaves who took action so that they sought their freedom.

Nat Turner was born on the October, 2nd of 18000, just a week before Gabriel was hanged by the white masters. Nat Turner was an American slave who on 21st of August 1831 led a slave rebellion that led to the death of 56 people and which included a very large number of the white people to have occurred in a single uprising. Turner organized the uprising through the gathering of his Supporters in Virginia at a place called Southampton County. His legacy is very controversial owing to the killing of the white people. Consequently, Turner was convicted and sentenced to death through execution. 56 Blacks who were accused of being part of Turner’s slave rebellion were also executed. The white militias, who reacted with violence, beat and killed two hundred blacks. In addition, legislators came up with discriminatory laws to deny slaves education (Douglas 199).

Some slaves opted to use or enact violent rebellions because they were denied the rights to assembly by their masters and as such, there was no official communication. The were no channels of communication that the black slaves could have used to address their grievances to the white masters and therefore, the other slaves so that the only way they could make their voices heard was through the use of violent rebellions.

Some slaves like Fredrick Douglas opted to take a different path, that instead of organizing violent revolts, he opted to escape to another country. Fredrick Douglas opted that escaping was the only way out of slavery because unlike the other slaves, he was did not know his father or mother and therefore he was not bound by any blood relative that could have made him to stay at the white masters farm as a slave. The turning point in Fredrick Douglas’s life that led him to take the path he took was that it gave him a chance to become well educated and later got the opportunity against the effects and inhuman conditions faced by slavery. He fought for the rights of the blacks and slaves and therefore became a strong crusader who championed for the end of Slavery in the West.

The choice which was taken by Fredrick Douglas, though risk was the best since it enabled him to expose the inhuman acts which were being committed to the slaves back at the place he came from to the outside world. Unlike, Gabriel and Nat Turner, Fredrick Douglas was lucky to make a daring escape from the white masters and later on lived to tell the story. On the other hand, the choices taken by Nat Turner and Gabriel though in the first place had good intentions of speaking against the intolerant acts of the white masters later on emend tragically because it only led to their deaths and the prosecution of their followers. On the other hand, Gabriel and Nat Turner’s revolts made the white masters to be very aware that indeed, the blacks were dissatisfied by the conditions they had exposed them to. Turner’s rebellion led to the support of a policy which was very repressive against the black slaves, that of being slaves but free.

Turner’s choice of using violence was meant as a way to awaken the attitudes of the white masters to the reality of the imminent brutality they were unleashing to the black slaves. Turner later claimed that his intention was to actually cause terror and alarm among the white masters. Therefore unlike Gabriel and Turner’s choices which involved deaths, Fredrick Douglas’s choice included no bloodshed and therefore can be termed as being a safe option (Douglas195).

Slavery and slaveholding impacted negatively on the behavior and Psyche of both the Northerners and Southerners because they knew that the black people were a minority group which was best suited for slavery. Indeed, the backs were not referred to be human beings but rather meant to be slaves and be used for slave holding in their entire livelihoods. The white Americans looked down upon the blacks and therefore based on their race, the black slaves were constantly harassed and intimidated by their white masters. The white Americans therefore knew that the relationships between them and the blacks was that of the Master and the slave. The white Americans therefore positively responded to the slave trade and therefore saw it as a good channel to enrich themselves at the expense of the black slaves (Foner 287).

There was different types and transformations among the slaveholders based on their understanding of people based on their race. Some white Americans who thought that slavery as very inhuman and that the black slaves were normal beings just like them were less violent in their treatment of the slaves. The other white Americans on the other hand, who saw that slavery was indeed descend and that there was no equality between the Whites and the blacks resorted to the use of violence and horrific brutality in their treatment of the blacks. (Douglas 215).

The idea of slavery induced some of the white non-slaveholders into positions of compassion and moral outrage since they saw that the rights of the black slaves were being trampled on by their white masters and therefore sough an end of this indecent human acts. The non-slave holders saw it as morally wrong for their slave holders to trample on the rights of the slaves.

The white non-slaves in the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas who were the non-slave holders included people such as Mr. and Mrs. Auld, the little white boys, Rev. Daniel Weeden, Rev. Rigby Hopkins and Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Johnson on New Bedford were the ones who were against the idea of slavery and therefore openly ran into moral outrage to condemn their slave-holding counterparts. On the other hand, Mr. Plummer, Mr. William C. Coffin, Mr. Severe and Mr. William Freeland and Mr. Edward Covey were the white non-slaves who were the slaveholders and therefore constantly harassed and denied the black slaves their rights.

The institution of slavery and the society produced drove the slave holding whites into their brutal behavior because before the start of the slave trade, the society was very calm and very little cases of harassment and intimidation were reported. It was only after the introduction of slave trade that brutality was very rampant among the white slave holders. Therefore, it was slavery that drove these white slave holders into practicing brutality. Brutality would have been uncommon if in the first place slavery was not their. Therefore the brutal behavior of the white slave holders was not within them but it was only activated after introduction of the institution of slavery.

The slave holding whites are indeed the ones who created the society of the slaves and the products of this society were indeed the slaves themselves. The slave holding whites created the slave society because they continually upheld this illegal trade in people and totally refused to hear the advice of their white non slaves. In this case therefore they were the creators while the slaves were the products of the slave community or society (Douglas 225).

Brutality was based on racism during the society of slavery since no whites were subjected to the hard labor and discrimination which was being practiced by the white Americans. People were segregated according to their race and skin color and this remained the major factor to determine who became the slave and who became the master. In almost all cases, the blacks became the slaves while the whites became the masters.

The varying behaviors of the slaves and slave-holders tell us that human beings are the same before God and therefore should be treated fairly and justly regardless of their color, sex and race in generally. Their varying behaviors indicate that all people are equal before the eyes of God. Fredrick Douglas knew that the black people are always born Christians and suggested that it was his wish that the government and the law respected the religion of other people not according to color and sex but according to equality.

Works Cited

Douglas, Fredrick. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”. New York: Dover, 1995.

Foner, Eric. “Gabriel’s Rebellion”. New York: Norton, 2009.

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