Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick DouglassThank you Mr. Douglass…this was a life changer for me. You are a true American hero and the fact that there are not more monuments, government buildings, holidays or other commemorations of your life seems to me an oversight of epic proportions.
How often is it that you can honestly say that you’ll never be the same after reading a book? Well, this life story of a singular individual has changed me....irrevocably. I will never be able to sufficiently express my gratitude to Mr. Douglass for that extraordinary gift of insight. I’m just not sure how to properly express how deeply this story impacted me both with its content and its delivery. Impressive seems such a shallow word. I guess I will call it a unique and special experience and simply state that this autobiography has been added to my list of All Time Favorites .
Being a fan of history, in general, and American history, in particular, I was somewhat familiar with Frederick Douglass and his reputation for being a great orator and a tireless opponent of slavery. However, this is the first time I’ve actually read any of his writings and I was blown away, utterly, by the intellect, character and strength of this American hero. And make no mistake, this man was a HERO in every sense of the word. I can imagine few people in a generation with the combination of intelligence, strength of character, sense of morality, charity and indomitable will as Frederick Douglass.
Here is a man who, as a slave with little or no free time to himself, spent every spare moment he had teaching himself to read and write. Think about that. In a very telling passage, Douglass says that he knew how important it was to educate himself because of how vehemently his master was opposed to it. I’m paraphrasing, but his message was, ‘What my master saw as the greatest evil, I knew to be a perfect good.’ Such determination and clarity of thought boggles the mind. Rarely have a come across a person whose moral fiber I admire more (John Adams being the other historical figure that jumps to mind).
On the issue of slavery itself, I am resolved that there could be no better description of the horrendous evil of slavery than this book. I previously read Uncle Toms Cabin and, while an important novel, that story had nowhere near the effect on me that this one did. Again, thank you Mr. Douglass.
While there are many aspects of the narrative that are worthy of note (the quality of prose, the excellent balance between details and pace and the fascinating events described), the most memorably impressive thing to me was the tone used by Frederick Douglass to describe his life and the people he came in contact with during his time both as a slave and after securing his freedom. Despite having seen and personally endured staggering brutality at the hands of white slave owners, Douglass never, NEVER comes across as bitter or hate-filled towards all white people. Had I been in his position, I am not sure I could have been so charitable with my outlook.
He speaks frankly and in stark terms about the evil and brutality suffered by himself and his fellow slaves. He sees great wrong and he confronts it boldly with his writing. However, he never generalizes people beyond his indictment of slavery and slave holders. He doesn’t stereotype or extend his anger beyond those whom he rightfully condemns. That is a person of great strength and even greater charity. The dignity of the man is humbling to behold.
After finishing this inspirational, never-be-the-same autobiography, Frederick Douglass has joined my pantheon of American heroes right along side George Washington and John Adams. I plan to read further works by Douglass and can not more strenuously urge others to do the same.
6.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
He was suffering terrible moments during his 20 years as a slave in the twentieth century. In addition, he describes in his own words the strategies he used to escape from the slave holders and to be free. One of the most well-known slavery narratives was lived and written by Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was a civil rights activist who was born into slavery on a plantation in eastern Maryland in February In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass portrays the importance of education because of its influence in leveling the playing field between the races in the s.
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Broadview's ebooks run on the industry-standard Adobe Digital Editions platform. Learn more about ebooks here. A revolutionary reformer who traveled in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales as well as the US, Douglass published many foreign-language editions of his Narrative. While there have been many Douglasses over the decades and even centuries, the Frederick Douglass we need now is no iconic, mythic, or legendary self-made man but a fallible, mortal, and human individual: a husband, father, brother, and son. Its relevance bears equally and urgently on our own fraught lives and time. Celeste-Marie Bernier has given us a view into the life of the Narrative and its author that is so full and intimate as to make this edition definitive by any standard. No ex-slave or abolitionist ever damned slavery so surely self-possessed.
In September , Abraham Lincoln gave notice that he intended to free the slaves held in states still in rebellion against the Union, a promise fulfilled by the Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, Lincoln himself remains the subject of scrutiny and celebration as the nation marks the th anniversary of that major step toward the abolition of American slavery. The book found a wide transatlantic audience and went through many printings, but like most accounts of slave life it fell from favor as memory of the Civil War receded into myth and popular historical narratives tended toward reconciliation. The book eventually went out of print. In Harvard University Press published the first modern edition of the Narrative , edited and with an Introduction by Benjamin Quarles, a prolific and pioneering African American historian. The publication in of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was a passport to prominence for a twenty-seven-year-old Negro.
He was compelled to 'tell the story of the slave'. The book was an instant bestseller, but it put Douglass at risk as in it he had 'named and shamed' his white slave owners. Fearing for his safety, he fled to Britain and began an abolitionist tour of the country. The first Dublin edition of his book shown here was published in September The frontispiece carried part of a verse written by John Greenleaf Whittier about the Revolutionary War:.