Essay Lincoln and Douglass

Submitted By dswidan
Words: 1251
Pages: 6

Similarities of Compassion Between Douglass's “Learning to Read and Write”, and Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address”

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln had many similarities between them. Even though they were born into completely different circumstances, Douglass and Lincoln both shared a strong compassion for other people. Frederick Douglass was an African-American and was born into slavery around 1817. With a difficult upbringing into slavery, he still became one of the strongest orators of his time, mostly on antislavery. Abraham Lincoln, born in 1809, was already considered free in the United States because of his color, but also became a strong orator in his time including the success of being the 16th President, on the eve of the Civil War. One of his most highly considered compassions was his fight to abolish slavery in the United States.
In Frederick Douglass's “Learning to Read and Write”, the way he speaks of his mistress is very compassionate. By teaching him the alphabet, his mistress is the one who started his path to literacy. During the time period of slavery, she was looked at wrongfully for educating a slave and treating one like a human being. “In compliance with the advice and direction of her husband, not only ceased to instruct, but had set her face against my being instructed by anyone else”. “To her satisfaction, education and slavery were incompatible”. Although she is stopping him from learning, it seems he is placing her up on a pedestal for opening up his pathway to education. Douglass shows compassion when he describes how Mistress Hugh was before she became under the influence of slavery, “A kind and tender-hearted woman”, and “There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach”, he is referring to her as warm and tender, showing compassion for her. Douglass has so much compassion in his writing. The words he chose to use in this next quote about Mistress Hugh makes you feel with emotion how hard she fell to depravity from a “lamb-like” innocence as a result of slavery, “Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and lamb-like disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness”. Using the words “tender heart” shows soft and warm, compassion. “Her tender heart became stone”, hard and cold, evil like.
When Douglass speaks of the little white boys whom he became friends with, you can see the compassion he has for them. He would use bread “to bestow upon the hungry little urchins” and in return they would give him “that more valuable bread of knowledge”. If he didn't have compassion towards the poor and hungry then he would have used something different to trade for knowledge. Douglass says, “I am Strongly tempted to give the names of two or three of those little boys, a testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them; but prudence forbids—not that it would injure me, but it might embarrass them”. He is showing compassion for their feelings by not wanting to embarrass them. Another sign of compassion that Douglass showed was helping the Irishmen unload a scow of stone even though he was never asked to do so. When helping them, one of them asked him if he was a slave for life and he responded back with a simple “yes, he was”. This deeply affected the Irishmen, as Douglass noted. Showing compassion for the white man in the days of slavery showed what a strong character Douglass was. Douglass has such a compassionate powerful appeal to emotion in the way he uses his diction. There came a point when Douglass felt that learning to read was more of a curse than a blessing. He felt like it showed him his “wretched condition, without the remedy”. Opened his eyes “to the horrible pit, but no ladder upon which to get out”. Not only is he describing how he felt, but also making the audience/reader feel emotional pity for him by the way