Essay: Frederick Douglas

In the book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave, Frederick Douglas was born a slave on his first master’s, Captain Anthony, plantation in Tuckahoe, Maryland. He was taken from his mother when he was an infant and did not know who his father was. Douglas suspected that his father was his master, a white man. Until her death, his mother would come and visit him at night. Frederick Douglas had several masters and overseers during his life as a slave, and he saw and experienced many things. I believe that the many experiences that Douglas endured gave him the wisdom to know that he did not want to be a slave forever, the strength and determination to escape the bonds of slavery, and the knowledge to become an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement. There are too many experiences to tell them all so I am going to talk about a few.
First of all, Frederick Douglas experienced the cruelty of the masters and a hard life on the plantations. At an early age, his saw Captain Anthony whip his Aunt Hester until she bled. He also saw many other slaves get whipped, and he was also whipped until he bled. The slaves were not given enough food to eat or clothes to wear. The children who were not old enough to work in the fields only had a coarse linen shirt to wear in the winter. On Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, Douglas suffered from the hunger and the cold. There was not enough mush to eat, and during the coldest winters, he only had a bag, that he had stolen, to sleep in. Douglas was also lonely on the plantation because he had no family relationships there. His mother was dead, his grandmother lived far off, and even though he lived in the same house with his two sisters and brother, they did not know each other.
Next, the most important of his experiences was learning to read and write. At about the age of 7 or 8, Douglas was given permission by Captain Anthony to go to Baltimore to live on the plantation of Mr. Hugh Auld. The mistress of the house was kind and taught Douglas his ABCs and 3 and 4 letter words. When her husband found out, he told her that a nigger should know nothing and not learn how to read. He forbid her to teach Douglas. Douglas was determined to learn how to read without a teacher so he made friends with all the little white boys that he met in the streets. In exchange for bread, the boys taught him how to read. Douglas also learned how to write by learning the letters on the sides of the ships at the shipyard and by using the school copybooks of Master Thomas, the son of Master Auld. After reading the book The Columbian Orator, which was a conversation between a master and his slave, Douglas obtained a powerful indication of human rights and detested his enslavers even more. Douglas began to think about freedom all the time and began to hear the word abolitionist. Douglas got its meaning from a city paper, and he knew that he did not want to be a slave for the rest of his life.
Finally, his experience of escaping to freedom was an important one. After Douglas’ first plan of escape failed in 1835, he was sent to jail. His master Captain Thomas Auld came and sent him back to Baltimore to live with Master Hugh Auld again. While there this time, Douglas learned the trade of calking. Douglas could command the highest wages for his work but had to give all of the money to his master. His master would only give him a few cents. Even though his living conditions were better, Douglas wanted freedom even more because he did not see any reason why he should have to give his master all of the money that he had worked for. So, Douglas made a plan that September 3rd 1838 would be the day that he escaped. Douglas succeeded in making it to New York. Douglas could not give all the details of his escape because it would make it difficult for others by giving the masters knowledge of his plan. After becoming a free man, Frederick Douglas got married, obtained employment, and became a reader of the Liberator. From the Liberator, Douglas got the principles and spirit of the anti-slavery reform. From that day on, Douglas became engaged in pleading the cause of his fellow slaves and working for their freedom.
In conclusion, Frederick Douglas experienced many things as a slave. These experiences made Douglas realize that he did not want to be a slave forever. Douglas dreamed of obtaining his freedom and never gave up that dream. By using the knowledge of the cruel life of slavery, the wisdom to learn to read and write, and the determination to escape slavery, Frederick Douglas became a free man. After becoming free, Douglas worked as an abolitionist and was an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement.

Source: Essay UK -

Not what you're looking for?

Search our thousands of essays:


About this resource

This History essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

  • Order a custom essay
  • Print this page
  • Search again

Word count:

This page has approximately words.



If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay UK, Essay: Frederick Douglas. Available from: <> [24-03-18].

More information:

If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Essay and dissertation help

Latest essays in this category:

Our free essays: