ABOLITIONIST LITERATURE

By: Pratiksha T, Anura K, Mahathi M, Rebecca Z- 2/3

THE LEGACY OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS

Frederick Douglas Resume


  • Douglas was selected to be the speaker for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society (this shows that his oratory skills were acknowledged among educated white men and other abolitionists)

  • Instead of resorting to violence, Douglas looked to make African Americans one with American society (part of the political economic aspects of American life).

  • Frederick started an abolitionist newspaper called, the North Star, which helped him become a major voice of the African American populous.

  • As part of integrated African Americans into society Douglas started, the Douglass Monthly, which recruited African Americans into the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts regiment (soldiers for the Union)

  • He realized that becoming educated would aid him in his fight against slavery, so he sharpened his oratory, writing, and speaking skills at a Sabbath School in Baltimore, Massachusetts.

  • Despite being the victim of violence on several occasions (by those who disagreed with his ideas, Douglas perseveres in his work (ex:scuffle at Pendleton abolitionist meeting)

  • He published Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which explains his experience as a slave (helps spread the word about the evils of slavery).

  • Douglas tours Great Britain and Ireland, lecturing about the abolition movement. This ensures that the anti-slavery movement has global effects (ensures the spotlight on slavery is bright enough to cause real change).

  • Through his subscription to the Liberator Douglass was able to meet and become the apprentice of popular white abolitionist leader: William L. Garrison. This expanded his sphere of influence to the all groups of the abolitionist movement.

  • Douglas’s ever-expanding sphere of influence helped him become a trusted advisor of Abraham Lincoln (placing him in a position that might help cause change). His drive and ability to take advantage of every opportunity are truly demonstrated in this.


Sources:

-http://www.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/frdo/word.html

-http://www.loc.gov/collections/frederick-douglass-papers/articles-and-essays/frederick-douglass-timeline/1836-to-1846/

-http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p1539.html

-http://www.frederickdouglass.org/douglass_bio.html

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UNCLE TOM'S CABIN

Harriet Beecher Stowe background: Stowe was well educated and her father encouraged her and her siblings to voice their opinions. She developed her persuasive writing through interactions with law school student boarders at her father’s boarding business. She attended one of the first academies for girls interested in academic subjects, not just ornamental skills. Stowe found many others who shared the same beliefs in a club called the Semi-Colon Club. The newspaper, the National Era, asked Harriet Beecher Stowe to write a series short stories that would run in installments that depicted the misery of a slave. When she first started, Stowe expected Uncle Tom’s Cabin to be only three or four episodes long, however, due to its popularity, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was extended to about 40 installments long.


Summary: Uncle Tom’s Cabin depicts the lives of two separate but related characters. The story starts out with Tom and Harry (4-year old boy) being sold to pay off their master’s debt. Harry’s mother Eliza, plans to runaway with young Harry to reunite with her husband, who has already ran away, unaware of Harry’s situation. Tom, who has a wife and three children, is sold into slavery “down the river” to Louisiana, where the deep south’s cruelty is at its greatest. Tom encounters many people in his new place, including a kind, young slave owner who treats his slaves well, and a cruel slave owner who goes through slaves as quickly as socks that get worn out over time.


Importance:

Some say that Harriet’s work was the cause of the civil war. While there was several factors that caused the war, the book certainly played a part as one of the many. This work of literature discussed slavery’s economic, political, and personal (moral) aspects. It gave Americans the ability to truly understand the extent to which slaves were cruelly treated. It inspired Americans to think about how they truly wanted America to be (which, of course, led to change).The change came in the form of the civil war which attacked age-old institutions of America and led to the eventual reconstruction of the South. This changed the very basis of American life and led to several civil rights conflicts that are still existent to this day.


Sources: https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/utc/impact.shtml

SLAVE NARRATIVES: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE By: Solomon Northup

Biography:


  1. Solomon was born in July 1808 in Minerva, New York

  2. Solomon Northup was born a free man and was thus able to read and write. This was essential in writing his 12 Years a Slave

  3. Northup was a popular violinist which shows that he was able to experience a different life than other black kids in America

  4. He was taken into hostage and sold into slavery in 1841 and spent 12 years as a slave


Summary: Like most other slave narratives, 12 years a Slave gives close insight into Soloman Northup's life. His story consists of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. he goes through a series of owners and struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of his ordeal, he is finally able to escape all the cruelties and reunite with his family once again. From brutal whipping to constant fleeing, his compelling story allows readers to see upclose the brutal life he and most other slaves faced during their time. This is important in promoting the abolitionist movement because his honest story fired up the need to fight against slavery.


Inspiration: The people and events that inspired Northup to write his narrative was none other than Northup himself and his journey from being a slave to a free black in America. His story and desire to get rid of slavery motivated him even more to write such an impactful story. He was tortured and whipped, and forced to change owners several times,most of which were brutal and constantly whipped Northup. He had to flee many times in order to get back to his family and faced many obstacles on his way. Because of all the hardships he went through, he wanted to be able to make others aware of the social injustices faced by many slaves in his time period.


Importance:

12 Years a Slave inspired change throughout American politics and culture in that the rising belief of abolishing slavery became more prominent in the beliefs of the nation. This affected politics because the need to satisfy the needs of the citizens and their ideas on slavery was just as important. It also majorly affected society because slavery was the social norm was changing something like this would change a significant part of America's culture and history.


Other questions to consider:

1) This book's intended audience was America as a whole to fully understand the horrors of american slavery

2)This narrative was extremely touching because Northup used powerful descriptions about the dreadful conditions of slavery. In fact, unlike most other slave narratives, Solomon Northup chose to be completely honest in terms of names and description that allowed the readers to be close to Solomon and his struggles.


Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/solomon-northup-21333433 http://www.britannica.com/biography/Solomon-Northup

http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/chronautobio.html

CONCLUSION

Abolitionist writers and various pieces of literature on slavery demanded the need to abolish slavery as well as change in the majority of traditional American culture. Slavery was essential in aiding agriculture and forming the basis of the workload. These abolitionist leaders brought attention to the brutal lives of the slaves and gave more insight in regards to the truth behind the stories. Despite the overly glorified need for slavery, these leaders made sure that slavery was looked through the eyes of the slaves and ensured that citizens and readers of these narratives could truly understand the negative effects of this institution. For example, 12 Years a Slave showed insight to how the lives of slaves were. Uncle Tom’s Cabin highlighted the economic, political, and social aspects of slavery and showed Americans the true nature of slavery. Frederick Douglass’s work as an abolitionist leader put African Americans in the spotlight, since Douglass was well known as a slave, giving the rest of the citizens a reason behind supporting this cause.