American History Book Report
Slavery is one of the aspects that make up the American history. It is from this that numerous books that account how slavery used to be in the country have been written over time. The book The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass An American Slave was written and published with the major theme being that of slavery. The reading of the book gives an individual an insight of how slavery occurred in the country. Moreover, the fact that the book is written by Fredrick Douglas makes it better placed to giving individuals an idea of slavery. Fredrick Douglass is one of the few notable people in the American history who gave their all in trying and end the scourge of slavery.
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Contents of the Book
The book starts by giving a little background information about Fredrick and the route he undertook into becoming one of the key figures in the anti-slavery movements in the country. Douglass was born in the year 1818 in Talbot Country, Maryland as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. The fact that he was born during a time when slavery was the norm made him start working as a house servant while still a young boy. However, the wife of the master where he was working found favor in him, a factor that made her start teaching him how to write and read.
Tired of the slavery he was put under, Frederick decided to escape to New York City. It is while at the new place that he reunited with his fiancee Anna Murray who he ended up marrying. The fact that Frederick was a fugitive made the couple decide to move to Massachusetts, and it is while at the place that he changed his birth given a name to Frederick Douglass. His stay at Massachusetts came at a time when the anti-slavery movement at the place was gaining momentum, and it is from this that he got the chance of attending the anti-slavery meeting that took place in Nantucket Massachusetts. Once in the meeting, Douglass was compelled to give a speech about his struggles with slavery, which he did. However, the fluency and intelligence with which he gave his slavery account made the organizer of the convention, William Lloyd Garrison to hire him as an abolitionist speaker, an action that set Douglass course of fighting slavery. Peoples accounts of the speech that Fredrick gave at the convention are recorded in the book.
The information found in chapter 1 of the book shows how slavery affected the family setting. For instance, children were separated from their mothers while still infants. In fact, it was a norm at Maryland that a child would be taken away from its mother where it would be placed under the care of an older woman in a faraway place. It is this separation that made most of the children not be able to know about aspects such as their correct dates of birth. In addition, the black women used to be raped by their white masters, something that made most of the children not know their real fathers. The white males who raped the black women ensured that their actions were not known.
The deplorable conditions under which the masters put the slaves under can be found in chapter 2 of the book. According to Douglass, slaves would get their monthly pay regarding food. As their monthly allowances, women and men received one-bushel corn meal, fish or pork weighing 8 pounds. After the end of the year, the male slaves would get a pair of linen trousers, course linen shirts, and one jacket. It is estimated that the amount of the clothes given to the slaves did not exceed 7 dollars. Compared to the huge amounts of work they did, it is easy to see how mistreated the slaves were.
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Point of the Author
Frederick Douglass uses the book to pass on a series of information to the reader. One of the things that the author is trying to show is the impact of education in slavery. Frederick was not like the other slaves as he was able to read and write. It is from this that he was able to articulate fluently and sensibly, some of the experiences he had encountered as a slave. The people who organized the anti-slavery campaign were educated blacks. The fact that he could read and write made him create an immediate appeal to William Lloyd Garrison who hired him as an abolitionist speaker. It is while at this capacity that he was able to travel to numerous parts sensitizing the blacks about their rights and the need to acquire freedom. It is correct to say that these actions set the groundwork of the abolition of slavery.
The another point that Douglass puts across to the readers is that ignorance was one of the features that made slavery effective. From the book, it is evident that the white masters intended to ensure that slaves remained ignorant to keep them as slaves. During the time when Frederick was writing the book, it is interesting to note that many black people viewed slavery as a natural state. Many black people had the opinion that they could not positively contribute towards the society and that the places where they were meant to be were being workers for their white masters. One of the strategies that the white masters used to ensure that the blacks remained ignorant was depriving them information that would make them know some of the basic facts regarding themselves. For instance, no slave was sure of the specific year of the date that he or she was born. By doing this, the whites robbed the slaves their individual sense of identity.
The other manner in which ignorance of the slaves was enhanced was preventing the older slaves from learning how to write and read. The whites knew that acquiring education would make the blacks attain a sense of capability and self-sufficiency. With literacy, slaves would start having questions about their rights, something that would end slavery. Ensuring that the black people remained ignorant was one of the ways that made slavery to continue for that long period.
Difference Between History And The Book
Although the book brings out slavery as it took place in the country, there exist differences between the book's contents and history. History states that anti-slavery movements were the main forces behind the liberation of the black people from slavery. The powerful nature of the movements made more black people eager to fight for their freedom from their white masters. However, the book is inclined into showing that individuals played a huge role in the fight against slavery. Besides, the book fails to show some of the roles that women had regarding the ending of slavery that the black people were subjected to.
Knowledge Gained From The Book
The reading of the book has imparted me with knowledge that I did not possess before its reading. For instance, I was not aware of some of the strategies that the white masters used in ensuring that slavery went on for years. From the book, I have been able to learn that the whites adopted strategies that were effective to the point that the black people viewed slavery as a normal and natural state. The black people were made to think that being slaves to their white masters was the only positive contribution that they could make towards the society. Before reading the book, I thought that the use of force was the only way that the whites were able to conduct slavery. The mental strategy that the whites adopted in ensuring that there was slavery has been a new piece of information that I have got from reading the book.
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