The Nature of Douglass's Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass

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The Nature of Douglass's Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass to tell his story and to help the abolitionist's cause. It provides a window into his world, which is that of a former slave and of a prominent speaker. Douglass was born a slave in Maryland in 1818; his exact birthday is unknown. Unlike most slaves he had a mistress, Sophia Auld, who taught him his letters when he was about 10 and that basis of knowledge allowed him to 'steal literacy' over the years. Douglass was hired out to a slave breaker named Edward Covey in order to make him more subservient. In 1834 Frederick Douglass and Edward Covey had a battle which changed
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That influence can be seen in some of Douglass?s positions on churches in America, the U.S. Constitution, political parties, and personal complicity with slaveholding. Since Douglass did write the book himself the influence is no where near as strong as it was with the narratives that were ?ghostwritten?. Garrison said, ?I am confident that it is essentially true in all its statements; that nothing has been set down in malice, nothing exaggerated, nothing drawn from the imagination; that comes short of the reality, rather than overstates a single fact in regard to SLAVERY AS IT IS.?# Some earlier twentieth-century scholars such Vernon Loggins and Benjamin Quarles also commented similarly on the book. Loggins believed that Douglass?s ?sole purpose in writing his autobiography was to produce antislavery propaganda.? Quarles addressed whether Douglass?s facts can be trusted, stressed the issue of subjectivity and the expression of personal vision: ?Douglass? treatment of slavery in the Narrative may be almost as much the revelation of a personality as it is the description of an institution.? Frederick Douglass had the political perspective in mind when in the final paragraph he wrote, ?From that time [the time of his first major oration] until now; I have

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