Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave By Frederick Douglass

Summary

Frederick Douglass was born in to slavery sometime between 1817 and 1818. Like most slaves, he had no clue when his birthday was, and until he was free, no clue of how old he was. His mother was Harriet Bailey, who was separated from him at a young age, and his father was most likely his owner, Captain Anthony. At age seven Douglass was brought to Maryland to be owned by Hugh Aiud, who was the son in law of Captain Anthony. Aiud's wife was kind to Douglass and began teaching him to read, before Aiud quickly stopped it. Regardless, through Douglass's brilliance he taught himself to read with help from other white children in Baltimore. Douglass escaped to the North and away from the evils of slavery. But Douglass was found and returned to Aiud, as Captain Anthony had died. Aiud was harsher this time, and decided that Douglass was unmanageable and rented him to Edward Covey, who was known for being incredibly abusive to his slaves. Covey beat Douglass so much that he lost his spirit, and contemplated suicide. Douglass became hard and forgot about reading and freedom, and only focused on fighting back. Douglass fought Covey and nearly killed him. Covey never beat Douglass again. Douglass's yearly rent was over, and he was rented to William Freeland, who was milder and didn't beat Douglass as often, but Douglass still required freedom. He planned to escape with 3 other slaves, but they were caught and sent to jail. Aiud sent Douglass back to Baltimore, to build ships. Douglass saved up money over years and years of labor and abuse, and eventually made his escape to New York, then changed his name from Frederick Bailey to Frederick Douglass to prevent recapture.

Frederick Douglass's Autobiography in my opinion is a must read book, as it shows the brilliance of Douglass, and the struggle slaves must go through to become free. The part that was most interesting to me was the idea that writing is completely different conceptually than reading. Douglass knew how to read, but not to write. This concept brings to light a lot of philosophical ideas. Can there be written language without writing or reading? Do you learn writing from reading, or reading from writing? Why are they taught at the same time and class? These questions are very intriguing to me. The incredible perseverance of Douglass and how even when he was beaten and captured he still had the longing to be free, which kept him going. Also that Douglass was brilliant enough to teach himself to read, a feat I know I couldn't have done. I believe every one should read this book, as it insight everyone about how there life is lived.

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