Abolitionist Literature

Phillip C., Taisei H., Jas S., David W., James C.

The Legacy of Frederick Douglass

  • former slave and human rights leader in abolitionist movement

  • was recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first regiment of African-American soldiers before the Civil War

  • nominated by the Equal Rights Party for vice-president of the United States in 1872

  • becomes president of the troubled Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company. in 1874

  • appointed U.S. marshal of the District of Columbia by President Hayes in 1877

  • established landowner: owns a twenty-room house sits on a total of 24 acres of land in Cedar Hill, Washington, D.C.

  • published third and final autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

  • married to Helen Pitts, a white woman who had been his secretary when he was recorder of deeds, encourages that the two races can coincide

  • appointed U.S. minister resident and consul general, Republic of Haiti, and chargé d'affaires, Santo Domingo. Arrives in Haiti in October of 1889

  • appointed recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia, an established job




Uncle Tom's Cabin

1. Biography:

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut, and was the sixth of eleven children. after her mother died, she pursued painting and drawing in honor of her late mother.she later went on to study literature and in 1851 published her first novel; Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her emotion filled writing on slavery captured the attention of the nation and found favor in the north but was shunned in the south. After the civil war began, Stowe traveled to Washington D.C to meet with Lincoln. she continued to pursue her career as a writer and published numerous volumes of stories, essays, and novels. Stowe died on July 1, 1896, in Hartford, Connecticut at the age of 85. Her body was buried at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, under the epitaph “Her Children Rise up and Call Her Blessed.”


3. Summary:

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a realistic fiction about the lives of slaves based on research of the life of a southern slave. Uncle Tom, the title character, was sold by his owner to repay the debt of the owner’s family. The book covers his journey as a property and his humanity in the face of the adversity of his situation.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin essentially gave a face to slavery for people across the world. With its conversational style and its portrayal of Uncle Tom as a good Christian man, the book gave the public an image of slaves in which slaves could be seen as humans. This piece tremendously bolstered the efforts of the abolitionist movement by creating a widespread awareness of the true constitutions of slaves, leading to even more growth in the movement.


4. Importance:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin inspired change in the American values by shedding light onto the elephant in the room; slavery. Stowe’s emotion depiction and writing over slavery caught the nation’s attention by questioning the basis of the society. it encouraged the people to think what kind of society they wanted, ultimately contributing to the cause of the civil war. Uncle tom’s Cabin won Harriet Stowe national fame which allowed her to travel to Europe and become an icon in american literature. Her book was translated into over sixty different languages.


“Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”

1. Biography:

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born a slave Tuckahoe, Talbot County, Maryland in 1818. Harriet Bailey, his mother, was a slave and father was a white man. Aaron Anthony was rumored to be his master. He had three older siblings, Perry, Sarah, and Eliza. In 1836, Frederick makes an escape plan but is discovered, jailed, and then released. He returns to work for Hugh and Sophia Auld in Baltimore and is hired out to work as a caulker in a Baltimore shipyard. The knowledge he gains there helps him escape slavery two years later. Then, in 1838, he married Anna Murray, and in 1841, he spoke at an antislavery meeting in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He meets Susan B. Anthony while on a speaking tour. Later he becomes a champion of women's rights.

he later begins a tour of Great Britain and Ireland, lecturing on slavery with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. English friends raise money to "purchase" his freedom. In 1863, Douglass becomes a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. As the first regiment of African-American soldiers; his sons Lewis and Charles join the regiment. Eventually his son Frederick Douglass Jr. also becomes an army recruiter.

In 1872, the Equal Rights Party nominates Douglass for vice-president of the United States on a ticket headed by Victoria C. Woodhull. July 1, 1889, appointed U.S. minister resident and consul general, Republic of Haiti, and chargé d'affaires, Santo Domingo. Arrives in Haiti in October. Then, on February 20, 1895, speaks at a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C, and dies suddenly that evening of heart failure while describing the meeting to his wife.


2. Summary:

Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was a significant memoir and narrative that describes the events of his life as a slave. The narrative was published in 1845 and became an immediate bestseller selling 4,500 copies in the first four months. His story reflected the events of his life, which were tied with the historical key events of that period. The literature was influential in spreading first person accounts of a slave’s experience and became widely read as Frederick Douglass’s literary skills were remarkable. The popularity of Douglass’s literature further fueled the abolitionist movement by allowing the common people to learn of the harsh conditions of slavery.


3. Inspiration:

Frederick Douglass was living in Baltimore when he was sent back to the country and was forced to work under a notoriously brutal "slavebreaker" named Edward Covey. And the treatment he received was indeed brutal. Whipped daily and barely fed, Douglass was "broken in body, soul, and spirit."

On January 1, 1836, Douglass made a resolution that he would be free by the end of the year. He planned an escape. But early in April he was jailed after his plan was discovered. Two years later, while living in Baltimore and working at a shipyard, Douglass would finally realize his dream. This signifies the start of his realization that he does not have to and under God’s law, and does not deserve to live in captivity. His goal was to become a big part of an abolitionist movement. This inspiration came from the pain and suffering that he endured during his slavery years. His motivation came from his slave master and his hatred for the form of human enslavement.


4. Importance:

The publication of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass had political and social influences in America. The greatest political influence the publication had was that it gained fame for Frederick Douglass himself to become placed in a politically powerful position. It attracted attention from politically powerful figures and gave opportunities to Douglass himself to facilitate the abolitionist movement. In addition to political influence Frederick Douglass’s publication of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave also had social influence. The story emphasized the idea that people have the power to shape their own future. He believed that positive changes have cumulative effect and individual transformation would positively benefit society as a whole.



The abolitionist writers and the pieces of literature they published significantly impacted the values, politics, and society of America through unabridged accounts of the hardships of slave life.

For instance, Frederick Douglass, a former slave and human rights leader in the abolitionist movement advocated and questioned the humanity of slavery throughout his life. Through his multiple autobiographies on his past slave life as well as his many political positions of authority, he championed the abolition of slavery. Frederick Douglass gave the real stories about the inhumanity of slave life, and gave the American society the thoughts of abolition. He significantly impacted American politics, as he pushed the importance of the issue in political debates, and the values of the freedom in America was greatly questioned due to Douglass’ accounts.

Additionally, Uncle Tom’s Cabin shed light on the actuality of slavery, which spread awareness throughout American society. This book greatly contributed to the advent of the Civil War, as it brought forth polemical issues within the politics of America. Furthermore, as a clear, uncensored account of slave life, Uncle Tom’s Cabin truly questioned the values of America that was stated in its Constitution.

Lastly, the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” showed that African-Americans had the ability to shape their own futures and that they were just as able as their fellow white countrymen. Also, it showed the harsh realities of slavery to the Northerners and effectively widened the gap between North and South politics.

In conclusion, these abolitionist writers and their pieces of literature brought forth controversial issues into the light of American society, and ultimately changed the scope of American society as it questioned the humanity of slavery.