One of Frederick Douglass' many inspirational pieces of writing was his autobiography on his life during slavery. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass brought an insight into the life of African American slaves. Frederick Douglass wrote about the many obstacles he overcame as a slave, and his struggle to run away and become a free man.
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle."
Since birth, Frederick Douglass had lived as a slave and did not know who his mother was. Frederick Douglass had no knowledge of his age or his real identity. Separating children from their parents at birth was a common strategy used during slavery. Frederick Douglass' father was believed to be his slave owner, a white man. As a child, Frederick Douglass witnessed many brutal acts of slavery, such as watching his own aunt get beat by her slave master. Frederick Douglass gives us details on how slaves were expected to behave towards their slave masters, and the treatment slaves received in return.
"Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
Frederick Douglass' move to Baltimore, Maryland was an essential turning point in his life. If Douglass had not been moved to Maryland, he would have remained a slave for the rest of his life. This is where Frederick Douglass met his new mistress, Sophia Auld. Mrs. Auld was the woman who taught Frederick Douglass the alphabet. While being a slave for the Auld's, Frederick Douglass learns the importance of reading and having knowledge. Douglass realized that knowing how to read opens up many possibilities for him; he has the chance to gain freedom. After gaining the understanding of the word abolition, Frederick Douglass confirms his idea to run away to the North as soon as he can.
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."
At the age of 10, Frederick Douglass begins to develop and stronger hatred for slavery once his slave master dies and realizes that slaves are considered of the same importance as livestock. After the slave master's death, Douglass is sent back and forth between new homes before living with Mr. Covey. While Frederick Douglass is sent back and forth between new slave masters he realizes that he has slowly been traveling towards the North, which he values as important information.
"I have observed this in my experience of slavery, - that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man"
Frederick Douglass' time working for Mr. Covey was gruesome. Mr. Covey assigned many jobs for Douglass to complete, and would punish him weekly. Frederick Douglass was beat and worked to exhaustion, and then was beat for being exhausted. After being punished enough by Mr. Covey, Douglass fights back during an attempt by Covey to tie him down. After hours of physically fighting, Covey gives up. Frederick Douglass metaphorically fought against slavery by sticking up for himself with Covey. Mr. Covey never whipped Frederick Douglass after that day. Douglass is sent to a new plantation where he meets other slaves and teaches them to read as an attempt to spread awareness and knowledge so they too have the opportunity to escape. Douglass and the other slaves that he befriends run away but get caught; Douglass ends up in jail. After 2 years of imprisonment, he is let out and is taught how to trade. He is sent to work at a shipyard where he is brutally beat by white men. Eventually, Douglass gets his own job and plans his escape date, and succeeds.
Frederick Douglass is a brilliant, complex, and heroic symbol in American history; he is a unique voice for humanism and social injustice. Frederick Douglass changed the history of slavery in America forever. Frederick Douglass died in 1895 after years of preserving and shaping a new future for the oppressed in America.