The American Dream


Biography: Leonard Black was born a slave in Arundel County, Maryland and was forcefully separated from his family at the age of 6. He ran away from the plantation at the age of 20 and wrote his book, The Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black, A Fugitive From Slavery in 1947. In the this piece he wrote about his cruel masters and the many obstacles forced upon him by his captors. In 1836 Black converted to Christianity and decided to enter the ministry. Shortly after, he ran away to Portland maine in 1837.

Summary: His 1847 autobiography is based on his life as a slave and the trials he endured. In THE LIFE AND SUFFERINGS OF LEONARD BLACK, A FUGITIVE FROM SLAVERY, Black states that his mother and sister were sold away to a southern plantation when he was about six years old and had 4 older brothers of whom 3 of which escaped to the north. His book eloquently stated the animosity he experienced from his masters and his intense desire to be free.

Inspiration: Leonard Black's inspiration came from his experiences as a former slave and the trials he's encountered. His hunger for justice fueled his fight for freedom.

Importance: His tale signifies the slaves plight to unshackle themselves from their masters. The poignancy of his literary work appeals to the emotions of all those involved in the process of slavery. His story influences politicians to abolish slavery.

Frederick Douglass Resume

  • First African American citizen to hold a high United States government rank.
  • Wrote several autobiographies depicting his experiences in slavery as well as his life after the Civil War.
  • former slave who bought his freedom through education and by becoming a prominent member of society
  • World renowned antislavery activist
  • Books became important works of the slave narration traditions.
  • Edited an influential abolitionist newspaper.
  • Supported early women's rights movement.
  • Gave assistance to John Brown's conspiracy which led to the raid on Harper's ferry.
  • During the civil war he worked a propagandist of the union cause and emancipation.
  • A recruiter of black troops for the union.
  • Advisor to Abraham Lincoln.
  • Became a symbol of his age and spoke for humanism and social justice.

Uncle Tom's Cabin


Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her father was a reverend and an abolitionist and believed in the concept of social liberty. The rest of her family contributed in impacting Stowe’s social views as well. Stowe’s sisters greatly influenced her social views and one even became a prominent leader in the cause of women’s rights. Stowe moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1832 and here she experienced the acceptance of slavery as a fact of life. In 1852, Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a response to slavery and to express its brutal effects in the South.

Summary: A farmer by the name of Arthur Shelby is forced to sell two of his slaves to Mr. Haley due to debt. The two slaves are Uncle Tom and Harry.Eliza, the mother of the five year old Harry, overhears the conversation between Shelby and his wife about their plan to sell the two slave. She plans to run away with Harry to the North from the plantation and invites Uncle Tom to escape with her. However, Uncle Tom refuses and Eliza successfully escapes without him. Uncle Tom is taken to New Orleans to be sold and befriends a five year old girl named Eva whom he saves from drowning. Eva convinces her father to purchase Tom and take him to their plantation, St. Clare. Eva plays a great influence on Tom’s life as she convinces the slaves on the plantation of having great personal value. Eva, however, passes away from an illness and her dying wish is that Uncle Tom is freed from the plantation as a slave her father. Her father fails to legally free him and Tom is sold to Simon Legree who punishes his slaves brutally. After Tom passes away, Shelby goes back to Kentucky and frees his slaves. At the end of the novel is a summary that explains how slavery is a cruel practice that needs to be abolished.

Importance: At first, this piece of literature met criticisms and was claimed to be inaccurate. The extreme abolitionists did not feel that the book was impactful enough to end slavery. Pro-slavery groups accused Stowe of exaggerating reality and providing an extremely one-sided view. However, more moderate abolitionists praised the book , for it brought attention to the plight of slaves at the time. Regardless of what people thought about the authenticity, Stowe’s work put a larger focus on the issue of slavery and encouraged further thought, discussion, and progress on the matter.


These pieces of literature sparked a greater interest in the social issue of slavery. It caused the people of America to reflect on their values and , for some, caused them to slightly change their moral viewpoints. Through Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe criticized the cruel nature of slave owners and sparked controversy between the people of America.