Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass was published in 1845. Ten years later he published another narrative titled My Bondage my Freedom. Though both works are about his life as slave, each possess its own tone and also shows how Douglass’s views on himself, slavery, and Christianity had evolved over time. The differences in the way he described his fight with Covey was something I found interesting. I noticed that during the fight in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass he talks about how Hughes came and tried to help Covey but was unsuccessful. He also mentions Bill who comes but allows Covey to fight his own battle, but he never mentions Caroline. In My Bondage My Freedom Caroline comes in the barn and sees Frederick and Covey in the scuffle and does not help Covey. The addition of Caroline is important because it shows that two slaves denial to help their master “in trouble” justifies Douglass’s new idea of fighting back against his slave masters. Douglass also describes them (he, Bill, and Caroline) as “being in an open rebellion.” Rebellion. A strong word that he had not used in The Narrative. I believe that in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass does not fully gather the entire moral meaning of his fight with Covey until  My Bondage My Freedom. Indeed after the fight he felt it “revived within me a sense of my own manhood” in The Narrative but that does not compare to his resounding “I WAS A MAN NOW,” as written in My Bondage My Freedom. Douglass was prepared to fight back. He was ready to escape and be his own master.

Douglass’s fight with Convey also cause him to further question religion. In My Bondage My Freedom he says,”My religious views on the subject of resisting my master, had suffered a serious shock, by the savage persecution to which I had been subjected, and my hands were no longer tied by my religion. Master Thomas’s indifference had served the last link. I had now to this extent “backslidden” from this point in the slave’s religious creed; and I soon had occasion to make my fallen state known to my Sunday-pious brother, Covey.” Douglass did not fight his master because in the slave creed you were to obey them no matter what they did. But when Douglass realizes the people who whip and starve him are also the people who claim to be Christians he is confused. Douglass saw fighting as a sin but so is beating people for no reason, raping women, and having slaves. In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass talks about teaching Sunday School to slaves and how much he loved doing it. One day Douglass Sunday School class is raided by religious leaders. In The Narrative Douglass writes, “Wright Fairbanks and Garrison West, both class-leaders, in connection with many others, rushed in upon us with sticks and stones, and broke up our virtuous little Sabbath school, at St. Michael’s–all calling themselves Christians! humble followers of the Lord Jesus Christ! But I am again digressing.” Douglass’s hurt and outrage can be felt. Frederick Douglass then looked to abolition. In the beginning Douglass might have felt that abolition was going against Gods word but after his fight with covey, Garrison raid of his class, and Master Thomas starving him he begin to change his thinking. He saw that there were a lot of Christians who were anti-slavery. These people worshiped God in spirit and in truth. One of those truths being that slavery was wrong.  In my opinion he felt like he had to join this movement. There were “false prophets” throughout the South standing on the word of God, yet they owned and abused a human race. There were Pastor justifying slavery using the words of the Bible as their guide. Frederick Douglass took it upon himself to show himself and the world that slavery was not in Gods plan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *