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Frederick Douglass And His Contribution To The Abolitionist Movement

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Around the early 1800s, slavery was at the forefront, and tensions were rising within the United States on the topic of free and slaves states. This is, in part, due to the First Industrial Revolution of the United States since new inventions such as the Cotton Gin, which was created by Eli Whitney, entered existence. This helped introduce the ability to participate in the mass production of goods. This invention allowed an individual slave the ability to produce more goods in a certain amount of time than before. Slave owners took this ability and began buying and using more slaves, which was something that citizens against slavery were against. It would be these people who would lead the Abolitionist Movement.

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The Abolitionist Movement was a movement to abolish slavery. In the 1830s is when this movement took off with various people showcasing their support in a multitude of ways. Some people began Anti-Slavery newspapers and others participated in the Underground Railroad with Harriet Tubman to help and learn about how slaves escape to freedom. African Americans like Harriet Tubman were risking being caught when participating in the aiding of slaves to escape into freedom. The range of punishment varied from being abused to being traded to a very strict plantation with harsh slave owners. There was also a lot of risks when slaves tried to escape into freedom. The punishment for this form of retaliation varied from lynchings to mutilation, however, these restrictions did not stop many considering Harriet Tubman and many others such as Frederick Douglas helped many slaves escape to freedom. Frederick Douglass was a very well-known African American and contributor to the Abolitionist Movement. When Frederick Douglass was a child, he was a slave. He lived with his grandmother to be taken care of with other children. His mother, Harriet Bailey, named Mr. Douglass, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, and the “Douglass” was added later on in life. She gave birth to Frederick in 1817 and had to, like most slaves who gave birth to children, go back to work a week later. He was left in the care of his grandparent. This is because older slaves who couldn’t really work on farms, would instead work as caretakers of the children who were born and unable to work yet. Norma Jean Lutz even described this experience stating, ”Under the care of his devoted grandmama, Frederick knew nothing about the difficulties of slave life. ” and that “He was safe and loved. ” Frederick’s grandmother was very respected and took care of him as long as she could, but soon that came to an end. “One hot day In August 1824, Grandmama Betsey took Frederick by the hand and told him to come along. . . After 12 long miles, they arrived at the Great House at Wye Place, ” Norma Jean Lutz described.

This was Frederick’s transition into slavery and separation from his grandparent and his world without slavery. He met his three siblings here. This was also the place where he came into contact with his owners of the time, Captain Anthony. He was kept with a certain age group of children with a woman slave woman named Aunt Katy. She provided the food and amount of food to the children. In her book, Norma Jean Lutz stated, “This power was used against Frederick”. She would feed him less and one time not at all. Norma Jean Lutz described the occurrence stating, “Frederick’s mother happened to come to Wye House to visit him. . . she had brought some food wrapped in a handkerchief…. Harriet scolded Katy for mistreating her son. . . Frederick knew now that his mother loved him and cared about him”.

Fredericks family loved him and he was aware and because of them, he continued to live on and Aunt Katy’s mistreatment did as well. From this moment on, Frederick continued to be a slave, meeting good and bad people in his journey, many of whom he was influenced from such as Sophia Auld, who taught Frederick how to read. Frederick Douglass was a determined man. He continued his life as a slave just until he got the opportunity to escape and in 1838, that opportunity arose. He had fallen in love with Anna Murray and was wanting to become “free” so he could be with Anna. He had tried to escape prior to this date but was outed by a fellow slave, and this plan was never fully executed. He, however, tried again this time and his escape was successful. He boarded a train and got to Maryland. He then rode another train through Delaware, even though it elongated his travel, because it was easier to travel through. He reached Philadelphia, Pennslyvania and continued all the way, by steamboat, to New York City where David Ruggles, an abolitionist, was and later that year, ended up marrying Anna. During this journey, Anna helped financially by paying for transportation and other necessities such as a sailor’s uniform to disguise himself. According to one of Christopher Klein’s articles, he describes Douglass’s disguise by stating, “Douglass disguised himself as a free black sailor. . . had borrowed a document from a free African-American seaman, but bore little resemblance to the physical description detailed on the piece of paper”.

Through all this hiding and disguising Frederick finally gained freedom. Then he began participating significantly in the Abolitionist Movement. Mr. Douglass first began by attending a black Methodist church with Harriet Tubman and many other influential abolitionists. He later became a preacher in 1839. He then began giving speeches and according to World History Project, “In 1941, Douglass spoke about his slave experiences at a convention of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society held on Nantucket Island”.

He participated in many abolitionist-related social engagements. He continues giving very effective speeches and in “1845. . . Douglass Publishes a Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” and in “1847 Douglass Establishes Abolitionist Paper-The Northern Star, ” according to World History Project. Frederick Douglass not only spoke and verbally spread his views on slavery, but he also published literature and established an outlet for this specific type of literature when he established his own paper. World History Project also states in “1848. . . Douglass Begins Sheltering Escaped Slaves Fleeing North on the ‘Underground Railroad’”. These series of events display how Frederick used his strength to fight for what he believed in.

Due to the facts provided, I would like to conclude that Frederick Douglas played a significant role in the Abolitionist movement. He was recognized for his literature. He was also respected because of it. He created his own newspaper that focused on the abolition of slavery. He brought attention and respect towards himself and his cause through his literature. He according to Frederick Douglass: America’s Prophet Mr. Douglass went on “an antislavery tour in Ireland, Scotland, and England. ” He worked his entire life to assure his message was heard on to many it spoke volumes, even after the Civil War he continued to speak about his past as a slave. He wrote books, went on tours, and tried to contribute the best of his ability to the Abolitionist Movement and to end slavery. Because of his contribution and the volume his intent and literature spoke, he helped contribute to the “awareness” of the negative aspects of slavery which eventually contributed to the end of slavery in the United States.

15 April 2020

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