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Olaudah Equiano, A British Slave, And Frederick Douglass And Harriet Jacobs, American Slaves Essay

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The autobiographies of Olaudah Equiano, a British slave, and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, American slaves, highlight the transition from the institution of British slavery pre-American Revolution to the 18th and 19th century American plantation slavery. The explicit differences between the two systems suggest unique factors that either promoted or hindered each institution. In Britain, slavery was generally driven by economic factors that relied on trained labor. Growth and expansion of slavery in the United States, however, was deeply rooted in consistent oppression and exploitation of slaves through physical and psychological abuses, which in turn gave slave owners unchecked power that ensured the perpetuation of plantation slavery.

The placement of slaves throughout different regions of the world shaped individual experiences, allowing for the growth of varied slave institutions. The life of Olaudah Equiano, a slave sent primarily to Britain and its colonies, in contrast with the lives of American slaves, defines this clear difference. While enslaved, Equiano was taught how to read and write, and was baptized as a Christian. These events marked the bridging of the wide gap between African slaves and their European slave owners, as slaves in Britain participated in aspects of society traditionally associated with Europeans. Equiano’s “apprehensions and alarms...among the Europeans” began to decrease, as he was continually being integrated into society and was
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