Similarities Between Frederick Douglass And Northup

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Frederick Douglass and Solomon Northup For centuries, slavery infected America like a plague. It claimed the lives of innocent black men, women, and children and turned them into mere objects to be bought and sold as their masters pleased. Most submitted to their pale-skinned masters, while others risked their lives to desperately escape captivity. By the 1800s, many had had enough. They could not bear the crushing oppression any longer. They actively opposed the standards forced upon them, such as illiteracy and total obedience. These people included Frederick Douglass, a rather known figure in African American history, and Solomon Northup, author of the renown book, 12 Years a Slave. In Douglass’ first autobiography, Narrative of the Life …show more content…
Both Douglass and Northup were involved in several “scuffles” with white men throughout the book, including their own masters. However, neither of them would start the fight; the white man would have to strike first. Northup, in particular, got into a number of fights with his second master, John Tibeats. Tibeats held a burning hatred for Northup, which resulted in Tibeats attacking Northup with the intent to kill on several occasions. Northup describes Tibeat’s second attack: “...before [Tibeats] could bring down the blow… I caught his uplifted arm… seized him by the throat… We stood looking eachother in the eyes. In his I could see murder” (91). As for Northup, his first brawl with his aforementioned master, Covey, was his last. Northup stated, “The whole six months afterwards, that I spent with Mr. Covey, he never laid the weight of his finger upon me in anger. He would occasionally say, he didn’t want to get hold of me again. ‘No,’ thought I, ‘you need not; for you will come off much worse than you did before’” (43). After that clash, Douglass did not allow any white man to strike him without fighting back. Douglass and Northup’s bold decisions to defend themselves against white people is a huge achievement that many slaves could not bring themselves to do. Back in the 1800s, a black man could not lay a hand on a white man without being severely punished, much …show more content…
Despite the punishment that would surely await them, Douglass and Northup helped other slaves against their masters’ wishes. Douglass, who had learned to read and write from a number of people in Baltimore, began to teach other slaves how to read. Douglass explains why he was teaching the other slaves and why they continued coming to his school despite the consequences: “Every moment [the slaves learning to read] spent in that school, they were liable to be taken up, and given thirty-nine lashes. They came because they wished to learn… I taught them, because it was the delight of my soul to be doing something that looked like bettering the condition of my race” (49). Northup, on the other hand, did not reveal his past and pretended not to be able to read or write. Thus, he did not teach any other slaves how to do so. He did, however, help other slaves in a non-academic way -- he saved them from whippings. While working under his aforementioned master Epps, Northup was often supposed to whip the other slaves. However, to spare his fellow slaves, he only pretends to whip them. Northup boasts about his skills: “...I learned to handle the whip with marvelous dexterity and precision, throwing the lash within a hair’s breadth of the back, ear, the nose, without, however, touching either of them” (162). Although their masters’ warnings and punishments threatened them, that did not prevent Douglass

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