Frederick Douglass and David Ruggles

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Fredrick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland in a slave family. According to him, he was not so sure of his exact year of birth as he was separated from his mother at birth. However, he knew it is between 1817 or 1818 because he must have heard his master in 1835 alluding, he was seventeen years of age (Douglass, 1845). He was separated from his parents the whites did not want him to develop family bondage although, at times, his mother could sneak from an adjoining plantation to spend a night with him. Despite all these, Fredrick Douglass grew to become one of the most influential anti-slavery defenders in the United States in the nineteenth century. Also, he became an articulate orator and writer of ideas and thought of what African American were subjected to as well as a fighter for the rights of women who were being raped by the whites. In several occasions, Douglass summoned the white slave traders and advocated for justice and equity for both blacks and whites. According to him, he believed that economic progress and freedom could be achieved through quality education to all irrespective of race, sobriety, social equity, and hard work. Hence, in his fight to liberate slaves, he accepted the face the scene of civil war to defend his philosophy.

Fredrick faced marginalization throughout his life, in in the presence of white opponents in the North. Although he was inspired by people like Lloyd Garrison to share his slavery life to the public, he was restricted to mention only bare facts away from slavery. Throughout the narrative, Fredrick refers to how slavery has become established through religion, politics and social factors. According to Fredrick, there exist two versions of Christianity: the real version and the false version of Christianity. The real version is seen in those who are against slavery like him and some liberal whites while the fake version is the false ones who engage in the slave trade and subject African American to harsh treatments in the plantations (Douglass, 1845). The latter is practiced by the whites and particularly, Mr. Covey who demonstrate the opposite of what an ideal Christian should do. Eventually, we come to notice that slavery and Christianity are two opposing forces that cannot co-exist at the same time. The introduction of slavery wiped away true Christianity that preexisted, and that is what makes Fredrick compare the two versions of Christianity.

Although Fredrick is depicted to continually criticize the manner in which religion has been undermined and used as a tool of power in slavery, he has a typical Christian view and is not against hypocrites like Mr. Covey. He feels that doing the right things and giving thanks to God define a true Christian, but not the deceitful inclination by the white slave traders. Furthermore, he connects biblical and Christian viewpoints to his feelings about the destructive nature of slavery and alludes that children born out of rape by masters will grow up with fathers who are their masters. Mainly, Mrs. Auld to whom Fredrick was taken to stay changes from her spiritual and happy state to what Fredrick describe as a demon, opposite of angel (Douglass, 1845). Perhaps this is because of slavery she is subjected make her portray false Christian. Douglass attempts to give the insight of slavery and how it is capable of turning even a kind-hearted and most docile people in the world.

Douglass was determined to find David Ruggles, an African American who headed an organization known by enslaved people escaping from slavery. Through Ruggles, Douglass always wanted to keep alive his abolitionist movement. Ruggles and other black abolitionists demanded an immediate end of slavery through peaceful methods intended to convince slaveholders. Leslie Harris, a black abolitionist in New York through the American Anti-Slavery Society, authorized the immediate end of slavery across the state (Hodges, 2010). This move shook many white slaveholders. Radical abolitionism recognized that ethnic discrimination concerned ethical persuasion and retraining of whites, as well as raising blacks to earn equality as whites. Here, Ruggles highlighted the aspect of political power to change situations. Radical abolitionism movements played a critical role in ending American slavery as well as transforming the life of Douglass.

Through successful escape of Fredrick Douglass to find David Ruggles makes him an eloquent orator in the racial abolitionist movement. He was so articulate that the opponents of slavery accused him of never been a slave, and so they were eager to know his life history (Hodges, 2010). Despite the risks of being returned to slavery that Douglass was exposing himself to, he tirelessly continued to publish and share his experience of slavery and disclose the uncouth practices by the institution that could help in ending it. Douglass was the real defender of humanity any slave could wish. He frequently organized for meetings with whites to discuss the fate of slavery and civilization of the blacks. Though such avenues, he gained respect among the whites even though he was just a mere African American former slave.

Fredrick Douglass’ father alleged to be his master, was a white man who probably engaged in the abomination practices by white men of forcing women to be their companions and begetting them children (Douglass & Robert, 2003). In case they did not agree voluntarily, they were raped by force, and the children grew to be slaves on the same plantation. Although slavery was purely associated with black, the practices present to a different scenario in which children propagated by the white in turn work as slaves in their fathers’ watch. This sounded interesting to some slaves but sad and absurd to the white community. Separating Douglass from his mother immediately after birth shows social injustice. It depicts whites as inhuman beings who do not care about another person's life but their selfish gain.

In conclusion, the narrative has depicted the life of Fredrick Douglass as a person born in slavery, but this did not limit him from liberating his people, slaves. Out of his intelligence and eloquence, he manages to make his way out of the slave plantations and seek refuge to David Ruggles who enlightens and motivate him through abolitionist movement. He fought against the injustices and inhumanity the American slaveholders caused to the African American slaves to the end. Interestingly, the struggle was a successful one, and slavery was finally brought to an end. Today, African American is peacefully enjoying the fruits of Douglass' fight like the freedom to co-exist with the whites. However, elements of slavery can still be witnessed today in the form of racism, extreme poverty, and inequalities amongst different societies.


Work Cited

Douglas, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by       Himself. Signet Books, New York, 1845. 

Douglass, Frederick, and Robert G. O'Meally. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003. Print.

Hodges, Graham Russell. David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground  Railroad in New York City. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2010.

August 21, 2023




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