Fredrick Douglass


Having been born in a family of an African American descent, Fredrick Douglass suffered and underwent similar humiliation just as did the members of his community then. It is through these experiences that he came across many people who shaped the course of his future life. At any point of his life as a slave, something new came to his life and was highly influenced by what he saw happening in his environment. His shared past with these characters slowly contributed to who he had become. Some of the great influences in his characters included; Captain Anthony, Captain Edward Lloyd, Sophia Auld, Hugh Auld, Thomas Hamilton, Wendell Phillips, and Nathan Johnson. Each of them became instrumental in the personality that had been created in Fredrick Douglass. Their behaviors made Fredrick Douglass sharpen his skills in persuasive power, become an oratorical genius, get into complexity of thought, have an intellectual demeanor as well as gain a more appealing physical presence.

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Influences to Douglass from each of the individuals

First to be evaluated is Captain Anthony, who was actually the first master to Fredrick Douglass when he first served as a slave. Douglass describes him as not as rich as other slaveholders but very cruel to his slaves. Furthermore, he goes ahead to indicate that Anthony had employed an overseer to his farm and slaves, in the name of Plummer, who he as well describes as worse than his master in the manner in which he mistreats the slaves. Douglass at one point recounts that on several occasions Anthony expressed displeasure on the beating on the slave by Plummer and warned of a stun action. He however asserts that Anthony was not good to slaves and highly mistreated them. He recalls at one moment when his Aunt Hester had sneaked out of Anthony’s home and was beaten up when she came home. He goes beyond to state that the beating was even worse as she had been with a boyfriend, something that Anthony had forbidden her to do. It is from such experiences that Douglass began to engage more in his mind on how they were being mistreated. It is at this point he started to build his complexity of though in regard to what was happening.

Second comes to Edward Lloyd, who is among the wealthiest slaveholders in the area. Of him, Douglass notes that although most slaves enjoyed working there than other farms, he as well was cruel. He describes situations where the slaves would be given peanuts as bonuses and were not enough. The beatings here were just as had been with the other slaveholders. Furthermore, working conditions at the farm were wanting despite the fact that it belong to a wealthy person who had connections even politically (Douglass, 1845, p.7). Douglass narrates that women who had their clothes worn out before the next issue of clothe were to carry on their work while naked. This is one of the things that would greatly be described as inhumane. Such occurrences could easily contribute to the young Douglass thinking mare of the unequal world of their time. This created in him the urge to push for the rights of African Americans.

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In his encounter with Sophia Auld, Douglass describes her as the noblest white woman that he had ever met (Douglass, 1845, p. 28). He recalls when they first met, he noticed of her kindness, something that she carried on until when he became a slave that she treated him worse than even her husband who was little concerned with the welfare of the slaves. Sophia, who was the wife of his master, had even offered to have him gain basics in education and thereby empowering him to read and write. Douglass later narrates that at one time, Sophia did change and started mistreating him and other slaves. Sophia’s presence in Douglass life played a significant role in making him who he had become. It is the basic education that she had given to him that helped him read and write when he joined slave abolitionist campaigns. This had also become the foundation of his intellectual demeanor, as it gave him an avenue to get to learn more. However, her change of mind and character threatened the trust that Douglass or slaves would trust the genuineness of a fair treatment by the whites.

Hugh brother to Douglass’s owners from Baltimore also influenced the personality of young Douglas. When he discovered the power of education that Sophia was according to Douglass, he expressed his annoyance arguing that by educating Douglass who he refers to as ‘nigger’ he would become unmanageable and would become valueless to his master as he would not easily be controlled. The sentiments heavily pains Douglass and he describes them to have gone down to his heart and even pushing him to the memories of what he went through as a youth (Douglass, 1845, p.29). This as he indicated gave him an understanding of what had been of the inequality in the society that he was living in.

Finally, Wendell Phillips had a positive impact on the life of Fredrick Douglass. In his letter to Douglass, Phillips expressed how he felt inspired by a slave coming out to fight for his rights. He describes the activities of Douglass as those that will go into history books. In his reference to “The Man and the Lion” Phillips argues that Douglass was the lion and time had come for him to write the history. Phillips is also inspired by the story as it reveals autocracies against slaves especially in an area where slave were considered to be fairly treated. He used this as his base to inquest what then would be happening to slaves in the states which were considered as highly mistreating them. By such letters, Douglass got encouraged and felt that his work was getting recognition as well as support.

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In his life and more precisely as a slave, Fredrick Douglass had his teaching through experiences. To him it was not a story that he had overheard but something that actually happened in his environment. Despite the fact that some most of the experiences he went through were painful, he build his confidence and sharpened his personal ability to persuade people that they should join in the campaigns against slavery. His whole life is shape by those he has lived with as their activities made him fall in a complexity of thought. It is though the education experience accorded by Sophia that formed the foundation of his intellectual demeanor, a well appealing physical presence, as well as oratorical skills. All of those traits were useful in his campaigns against slavery and a powerful tool in his push for its abolition.

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