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American People Slavery is one of the most shameful episodes of the white peoples history around the globe. Stronger nations colonized those who were beyond a certain level of development and could not protect themselves. Thousands of people were taken out of their homes as slaves and were deemed to live at their masters wills for many generations. Even though whites sought to control their slaves in every imaginable way, the latter never gave up their desire to be free and equal, and resisted their masters in every possible way. Escaping from slavery in 1838 had to be a tremendous experience - escaping slavery at any time would be! Most slaves could not read or write, but one slave, Fredrick Douglass, broke that barrier and many more. In his writing, he used a wide-open state of mind to clearly get his thoughts across. He described particularly well how white masters were depriving the slaves of their humanity.
In Chapter One, Douglass writes that not a single slave child knew how old he was: The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege.(Douglass, ch.1) Slaves were treated no better than horses. Masters did not consider them human in any way for them, a slave was only a part of the belongings they had: just like houses, plantations, animals, etc. However, the whites also realized that slaves were humans with their abilities to think, feel and act in a certain way. This was probably the reason why the black mothers and their children were separated. Their owners were afraid that together they would become powerful and would not tolerate the lifestyle they had. Another way, in which the white slaveholders were trying to control their slaves, was to shut [them] up in mental darkness.
(Douglass, ch.4) Education is freedom in itself and the more educated the slaves could become, the more danger they would pose to their masters as well as to the slavery itself. As Douglass wrote, whites at that time believed that to treat me as a human being was not only wrong, but dangerously so. (Douglass, ch.4) Even though Linda Brendt was a woman, her experiences as a slave did not differ much from those of Frederick Douglass. Both of their narratives start with the description of where and when they were born. They did not know their parents, from whom they were separated at an early age, but both knew that they had white fathers. Their masters and mistresses were very cruel whippings, including women, were frequent. Douglass, as well as Brendt both saw how some strong, hardworking slave, who refused to obey, was whipped for that. The authors of both narrations, obviously, were literate.
Their mistresses taught them letters, but still strictly prohibited their slaves to read books and newspapers. One of the most widely used methods of resistance to inhumane treatment was running away. Brendt described many failed attempts of escape, how the run-away slaves were pursued by men and dogs and whipped to near-death afterwards. Douglass described how he successfully ran away, obtained freedom and achieved what a few white men could achieve. People can seldom keep up with being enslaved and deprived of their rights. African slaves, who were forcefully taken from their homes, separated from their families, deprived of their humanity, were also forced to live and work how their master wanted them to. However, one thing that no one could take away from them was their desire to be free. Many of them gave their lives for that idea. However, some of them succeeded and acquired their freedom. Frederick Douglass not only succeeded and made their own lives better, but they also fought for the rights of other slaves. Their writings inspired many blacks and made a problem of slavery more vividly visible to the whites.
Even though reading Douglasss and Brendts narratives calls for sad emotions, it will hopefully teach the future generation to avoid the mistakes of the past. Bibliography: Bontemps, Arna. Free at Last: The Life of Frederick Douglass. Dodd, 1971. Davis, Darien J., ed. Slavery and Beyond: The African Impact on Latin America and the Caribbean. SR Books, 1995.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1994. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation, 2002 www.ysdnaturalstone.com/RNI/history.htm.
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