Frederick Douglass Essay

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The institution of American slavery was fraught with many heart wrenching tails of inhuman treatment endured by those of African descent. In his autobiography Frederick Douglass details the daily horrors slaves faced. In Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave he depicts the plight of slavery with such eloquence that only one having suffered through it could do. Douglass writes on many key topics in slave life such as separation of families, punishment, and the truth that would lead him to freedom, and how these things work to keep slavery intact.
In the words of Frederick Douglass, “My mother and I were separated when I was only but an infant…It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to
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The thought of separation from loved ones was horrible. Many who had the means to escape their bondage probably remained for fear of separation from family and friends. The slaveholders had an effective tool in keeping their captives in chains. Punishment, and the fear it implanted in the minds of the slaves also served the slave holders well.
Slaves were often whipped for the smallest infractions. As per Frederick Douglass, “It would astonish one, unaccustomed to a slaveholding life, to see with what wonderful ease a slaveholder can find things, of which to make occasion to whip a slave.” (87) He goes on to list some reasons a slave might be whipped for, “A mere look, word, or motion,--mistakes, accident, or want of power…Does he forget to pull off his hat at the approach of a white person? Then he is wanting in reverence, and should be whipped for it.” (89) In one illustration of said treatment Douglass tells of how cruel his first master was.
Frederick Douglass’s first master, Captain Anthony, “would at times seem to take great pleasure in whipping a slave.” (24) Douglass wrote, “No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose.” He
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