Fredrick Douglass Essay

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For the majority of the nineteenth century, specifically in the Southern portion of the United States, undeniably, slaves were kept under the worst conditions, and treated more as property than as people. The economy in the South, otherwise known as the “cotton kingdom”, depended heavily on cheap labor, and was sure to crumble without it. Slave owners knew that, they had to do anything in their power to keep African Americans under the horrid reigns of slavery. The first step in keeping slavery in place and ensuring that blacks would not escape for freedom was keeping slaves uneducated. The belief was that if blacks became educated and learned basic things such as how to read and write, they would for sure realize the unfairness that came with slavery, and slavery as a whole would come to an end. The role of education was a prominent theme in many of the stories told and decisions made by Fredrick Douglass in the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass. Ultimately, Douglass makes his point clear that slavery and education are incompatible, meaning that slavery cannot exist if these slaves are educated. Through personal experience as well as through accidental assistance from one of his slave masters he learns this simple logic, and he uses this to become educated and eventually to free himself from the brutal conditions as a slave. Douglass provides a few examples throughout the narrative that showed the slave owners desire to keep the slaves uneducated. The first was in the very beginning where Frederick describes his, and other slaves; lack of knowledge of simple facts about their lives. Frederick states, “I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their age as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their

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