Hahaha: Abolitionism and Frederick Douglass Teaching Essay

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Individual Learning Packet

Teaching Unit

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

by Frederick Douglass

Copyright © 1999 by Prestwick House Inc., P.O. Box 658, Clayton, DE 19938. 1-800-932-4593. www.prestwickhouse.com Permission to copy this unit for classroom use is extended to purchaser for his or her personal use. This material, in whole or part, may not be copied for resale. Revised July, 2003.

ISBN 978-1-58049-140-2
Item No. 300736

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Written in 1845, the narrative autobiography of Frederick Douglass details his life as a slave, his escape to freedom, and the importance of literacy in his life. It serves as a record of Douglass’ personal growth in self-respect, courage, intelligence, and racial pride. Douglass’ escape from slavery—a feat that came from his ability to learn to read and develop his mind—reinforces the importance of education as a tool to better one’s life.
All references come from the Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classics Edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, copyright 2004.
Historical Terms and Background Information
Underground Railroad – Before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad helped an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 slaves escape to the Northern states and Canada. It was called the Underground
Railroad because it was secret (underground) and covertly referred to in railway terms (escaping slaves were called freight). Northern abolitionists and former slaves like Harriet Tubman ran the Underground Railroad until it ceased operation at the start of the Civil War.
Abolitionist Movement – The Abolitionist Movement began in the 1780’s in Western Europe and the
United States with the goal to gradually eliminate slavery. In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison, founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, published the Liberator newspaper, calling for the immediate emancipation of all slaves. His platform included:

• speaking out against the immorality of slavery.
• urging Northern states to secede from the union.
• advocating the boycott of Southern goods.
• participating in the Underground Railroad.
Frederick Douglass – The Abolitionist

Frederick Douglass became an agent for the Anti-Slavery Society, lecturing about the wrongs of slavery. He traveled widely, facing discrimination and pro-slavery mobs. Many of his listeners were so impressed with his speaking skills that they could not believe he had been a slave.



Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
By the end of this Unit, the student will be able to:
1.  define the vocabulary words listed at the beginning of each chapter of the study guide and comment on the significance of Douglass’ accomplishment at overcoming illiteracy to develop his substantial vocabulary.
2.  trace Douglass’ thirst for knowledge and discuss how the development of his mind impacts his quest for freedom.

relate events in the narrative demonstrating Douglass’ personal growth in the following areas:

• self respect
• aggressiveness
• courage
• intelligence
• racial pride

4.  define persuasive writing and demonstrate how this autobiographical narrative is an example of persuasive writing intended to gain support for the abolitionist movement.

identify examples of allusion used in Douglass’ arguments against slavery.


 upport or refute that Douglass believes in destiny or fate and that he credits “kind providence” with his successful escape to freedom as a result.


identify the author’s use of sarcasm and puns to add humor and interest to the narrative.

8.  comment on the dramatic descriptions of slavery and point out how these descriptions manipulate the reader’s feelings to gain