Most of My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass focused heavily on Frederick’s early life. Douglass uses his own experience to depict the injustice of slavery. He tends to focus on slavery and how it abolishes humanity itself. Slavery has a long history. It is not a humane choice. He writes in gory detail about the cruelties slaves withhold and how slavery is dehumanizing. Many arguments have risen regarding the definition of slavery. What is slavery? Douglass came to terms with one definition of slavery. He stated, “The slave is a human being, divested of all rights, reduced to the level of a brute a mere “chattel” in the eye of the law—placed beyond the circle of human brotherhood—cut off from his kind… In law, a slave has no wife, no children, no country, and no home…” (Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom). Frederick Douglass’ life begins with Douglass being a slave, then a fugitive, and finally a free man working to free slaves from bondage.
Douglass engages readers with his story about slavery and strong convictions that led him to be a free man. Throughout the book, he shows how violent and cruel the masters can be and what black people were capable of. Many white people couldn’t see how much capability black people had. “Slavery does away with fathers, as it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either fathers or families, and its laws do not recognize their existence in the social arrangements of the plantation” (Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom). Frederick was separated from his family, while being beat and punished. The purpose of this primary source is to show that slavery may not be as brutal or visible, but we must fully understand that slavery has been with us for longing decades. Slavery continues today, and it harms many people throughout the country. We all have a role to bring slavery to an end. Slavery is a disgraceful aspect of humanity. The end of slavery is just the beginning of our mission for equality.
Douglass uses numerous accounts to argue for the immortality of slavery. Slaveholders have used biblical passages to justify slavery. Douglass argued that slavery victimized everyone. “I had deep satisfaction in the thought, that the reality of shareholders was not concealed from the eyes of the world, and that I was not alone in aborting the cruelty and brutality of slavery” (Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom). Many people have defended slavery and it’s important to demonstrate, like Frederick Douglass, why it’s wrong. He explains why America still suffers from past injustices.
“I hated slavery, always, and the desire for freedom only needed a favorable breeze, to fan it into a blaze, at any moment. The thought of only being a creature of the present and the past troubled me, and I longed to have a future–a future with hope in it. To be shut up entirely to the past and present, is abhorrent to the human mind; it is to the soul–whose life and happiness is unceasing progress–what the prison is to the body; a blight and mildew, a hell of horrors. The dawning of this, another year, awakened me from my temporary slumber, and roused into life my latent, but long cherished aspirations for freedom. I was now not only ashamed to be contented in slavery, but ashamed to seem to be contented” (Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom). Many people today fail to realize how deeply we have been affected by such an inhumane event and what is has meant to people over the years. The argument of this primary source is that slavery has existed for over thousands over years and many believed that slavery was vital to their livelihood. Many people found ways to furnace arguments and continued to stand as tension rose. Douglass’ hope was to deepen and clarify moral opinions about slavery. Each person is different and valuable, but we must understand the meaning of life and to portray a state of love.
Presuppositions provide the best opportunity to find a valid agreement across various opinions. The Bible never condemned slavery. The moral principles of the Bible are opposed to slavery. Religion has been used to justify the continuity of slavery. Slavery no longer exists. The presupposition is that slavery once existed. Slavery existed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery continued to exist until after the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The event that led up to the abolition of slavery in the United States was the Civil War. Douglass went from being a slave to a reformer, leaving behind a legacy with the power of faith and literacy. “To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery” (Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom). Many slaves are abused beyond human comprehension. They resist bondage and force their will. Master’s believe that violence is used as a means to gain submission. Slaves found different ways to read and write, just as Douglass taught himself how to do both. To believe that a contented slave existed, history tries to ease its own aching conscience and bring some sort of justification to the issue. To accomplish anything, you have to do it yourself. You must take life into your own hands and start it yourself. Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We must speak out, we can’t sit back and wait to see if something will change. We are basically giving up our humanity sitting in silence. Take action and make a change.
Will we ever know if something is morally right or wrong? Many of us make moral judgments every day. People are free to make claims under the principle and generally do so when they are victimized. For example, Douglass writes about his own life experience as a slave. His story showed how moral convictions have changed and implies moral epistemology. Moral lessons are powerful, and Douglass did a great job oppressing the issue of slavery. The epistemology of this primary source is moral knowledge comes from outside, and that’s what Douglass experienced himself. He let himself be open to claims and different perspective of others. Power makes people morally blind. It corrupts their moral reasoning. Douglass once said, “A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.” We tend to forget such histories and pasts at our peril, but progress requires the practice of justice for all. Different groups learn moral lessons from history, predominantly their own histories. As for Douglass, he learned through his own life experience. Hence is lived so called freedom, even while confined by barriers and inhumanities of slave life, Douglass’ complex individuality faced disempowering meaning be marked at as a slave.
My Bondage and My freedom is a very well written primary source. It relates to another primary source called, “The Selling of Joseph: A Memorial by Samuel Sewall. He wrote this primary source to disprove claims of proponents of slavery. Just like Douglass said, slaves were ill equipped to handle freedom. The American Dream centers around the phrase, “Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness.” Sewall constructs strong arguments and shares his concerns effectively through powerful words. He does not sugarcoat anything. As Douglass did, he told it how it was. Both writers, Douglass and Sewall, describe the true inhumaneness of slavery. Sewall stated, “So that originally, and Naturally, there is no such thing as Slavery. Joseph was rightfully no more a Slave to his brethren, then they were to him: and they no more Authority to Sell him, than they had to Slay him” (Genesis 37). Sewall criticized slavery and disapproved of the counterarguments for slavery. Sewall uses true and racist arguments to support his case. Douglass used his own life experience to support his case against slavery. Both primary sources look back at vivid experiences that took nulling effects on many slaves, including Douglass. Quoted from Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” You must get through the bad to get to the good. Frederick dedicated his own life for equality and the abolition of slavery. There is still room for progress, and we must continue to stand together and fight for what we want.
This primary source is really eye opening. Even today, we must remember our struggles that shaped our country. Even as a slave, Douglass fought for equality. He was never taken seriously, but his writing talents overcame his obstacles. He is one of the greatest inspirations around the world. Douglass knew that equality was far from being over. Still today, we fight for equality for men and women. Douglass endorsed the issue of slavery and took a step to make a change. America has a battle ahead for equality. We must continue to strive for rights and equality. Struggles still continue, but we must form a more perfect union and stand together. We must recognize our faults and work towards process. Equal opportunity for all. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Douglass was courageous and worked toward a more equal and free nation. The power is in our hands. It is the people who embrace and ignite it. Leaving off with a quote from Douglass, “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” Douglass went through all the challenges in order to achieve something that we think is simple.

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