Government - 2
January 21, 2015
An American Slave in Antebellum America In Antebellum America the social, legislative, and political policies regarding slavery permeated everyday life. Frederick Douglass pierces the veil of slavery’s inhumanity and reveals the cruelty and savagery of the slavery he personally endured in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. With over thirty thousand copies read within the first year of being published in 1845, Douglass launched himself as an articulate abolitionist and champion for emancipation.
The Constitutional compromises on slavery in 1787 enabled the ratification of the United States Constitution and guaranteed the status quo of slavery for at least the next twenty years. Statesmen and politicians continued the debate of slavery and secured civil peace and political balance of power with the 1820 Missouri Compromise. Yet, secretly in the shadows of covert disobedience, infrastructures that would forever change the Antebellum American landscape emerged: “North blacks were making great strides in self-organization-forming societies and associations for self-help and protection, and founding churches, schools and businesses” (King 2). The majority of ordinary white people in both the North and South repressed rapid emancipation of the American salve. Abolitionist newspapers such as William Lloyd Garrison’s the Liberator, fueled the debate against slavery from 1831 to 1865 (Blight 81). The Underground Railroad provided passage and freedom into the North for many blacks and it is in this time period that Frederick Douglas made his escape to freedom. This very exodus of slaves to the north helped fuel the Compromise of 1850 and the retaliatory Fugitive Slave Law against abolitionist (Blight 134).
As a new slave fugitive, Douglass discovered the Liberator and his destiny. In his narrative, Douglass states that “The paper became my meat and my drink. My soul was set all on fire” (Douglass 120). Douglass’s articulate speaking abilities and passion propelled him to advance the anti-slavery platform and emancipation. As a resolute abolitionist, Douglass did not support Lincoln in the election of 1860, but he hoped for the Republican Party to win. Throughout the Civil War, Douglass provides powerful counterpoints and criticism of Lincoln policies, however, once Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Douglass…