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Lessons from Fredrick Douglass’s Life Essay

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Updated: Dec 8th, 2019


Fredrick Douglass born some times between 1815 and 1820 in Tuckahoe in Talbot county, Maryland, suffered many years of slavery from his childhood into adulthood in Maryland in South America before his escape to the North in 1938.

He was separated from his mother while still one year old and never knew exactly who his father was. As he grew up, he came to believe that the increase in number of incoming slaves into the south would one day create an end to slavery in the content. The power of the people would one day overwhelm that of the masters.

Lessons learnt from Douglass’s narrative

Douglass believed that the greatness of the master could not be transferred to the slaves (Douglass 3). Being a slave was already bad enough and a human rights violation and therefore unity among the people would be the only possible way of redeeming themselves from slavery.

People should find the need to come together due to the mutual hardships that they often undergo as a result of their condition as slaves. Black or white, people should work together without considering the race just like it used to be initially at Mr. Gardner’ ship building firm (Douglass 10).

Fredrick Douglass witnessed many horrible events and crimes against humanity while still a slave in Maryland. People were whipped till blood poured from their bodies and farm overseers as well as other white men and women committed some of the most horrid murder yet such crimes were considered as normal in the community.

The justice system should protect everyone whether slave or master or whether black or white. The justice system should treat people selectively and should protect people from crimes against humanity.

Treating people selectively increases the level of crime against humanity especially by those who have an upper hand in the justice system. Watson Esquire could not order an arrest warrant on the white carpenters who beat Douglass up almost destroying his eyeballs since he had to find white witnesses to the case (Douglass 10).

Douglass narrative teaches about self-determination and courage. Despite the suffering he underwent under different slave-masters including in Covey’s hand, he did not lose hope. He was determined to escape whether it meant losing his life. It is this determination that would help slaves overcome the unending slavery.

People should be ready to lose their lives in order to end slavery. People should be ready to meet the worst in efforts to achieve respect from slave masters. Freedom is not easily attained; people have to struggle for it.

It takes the courage and boldness of both men and women to confront the slave masters whenever they feel oppressed. According to Douglass (10) his boldness to fight with Mr. Convey saved him from frequent whippings. He believed that he would rather be killed than to remain a slave in hands of the slave masters.

Douglass came to learn that education or being able to read and write is the key to overcoming slavery. Education could help enlighten the people and expand their understanding of contemporary issues such as their human rights.

According to Douglass (6) the only way to challenge the power of slave-masters over their subjects is through education. Douglass says that Mr. Auld, a slave master, believed that an educated slave was unmanageable (Douglass 6).

This therefore means that slaves or those under the oppression of rulers and dictatorship leadership have to struggle to attain education no matter the cost. Douglass (10) says that slaves who attended his Sabbath school were likely to be given thirty-nine lashes afterwards.

Education would empower the people to fight for their rights and overcome any form of slavery (Douglass 7). According to Douglass (7) slaveholders and dictators uses the subjects lack of education to shut them up in mental darkness and therefore always keep them loyal to their masters.

Education would enable slaves to gain the power of truth surrounding slavery over the conscience of slave-masters. Through education, slaves would be bold enough to denounce slavery and fight for their human rights. Education would help them share their views with like-minded anti-slave campaigners like the abolitionists group and help fight slavery both in the North and South of America.

It would be easier to communicate and collaborate in fighting for their human rights. According to Douglass’s narrative any slave who has acquired some education should share it with other people to enlighten more people in the society.

Douglass also believes that the Christmas holidays afforded to slaves were insincere and a crime against humanity. Slaveholders would always trick them into getting drunk the whole festive season so that by the end of the period they have not done anything for their lives. They make sure that the drink keeps the slaves from thinking of the abuses that they receive during their slave life.


It is important to enlighten slaves both from the north and south to help them achieve their freedom. Slaves both black and white and whether from the north or south should work together to redeem themselves from slavery.

Works Cited

Douglass, Fredrick. Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, an American slave. Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE 14 May, 1997. 11 May, 2011

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