Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Essay examples

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Illiteracy was an instrumental tool used to deprive slaves in an attempt to keep them ignorant and manageable during the 1800’s. If slaves were to learn how to read, they could in turn be educated. The oppressing class during this time period realized that if slaves were able to become educated they could no longer be useful, for it would be increasingly difficult to exploit their services. The ability to read was the white man’s power over slaves. Douglass, realizing the situation of his enslavement, took advantage of his privileges and began to secretly learn how to read and write. As he become more proficient in English, Douglass began to gain a following of slaves who were willing
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While Douglass lived with Mr. Freeland he gained a very close knit of friends with the slaves on the farm. They were a community which acted as one, each member responsible for the other. Before his escape, Douglass was able to ignite the will to learn into those on the farm and the farms surrounding. He devoted his Sundays and three evenings a week to educating his community and “several of those who came to Sabbath school learned how to read; and that one, at least, is now free”(88). He gave those who were trapped the same utensils that were given to him when he was younger. Douglass provided a way for other slaves to learn about religion, shedding light on their mental darkness and even “had at one time over forty scholars”(88). As his ideology of education became more accepted throughout the farm, Douglass was able to gather an escape team. Amidst all the planning, Douglass wrote a protection for each of the men stating they were allowed to travel to Baltimore for the holiday. This is the advantage Douglass, a literate slave, has over other slaves and also other whites. No other slave would be able to legibly write a letter of protection and no other white person would expect a slave to know how to write. By Douglass knowing how to write, it makes the authenticity of the protections seem more probable. Douglass, however, never got to execute his escape. Another slave betrayed him and his plans were