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What were Frederick Douglass' talents and accomplishments?

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heehee09 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 17, 2010 at 6:36 AM via web

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What were Frederick Douglass' talents and accomplishments?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 17, 2010 at 9:09 AM (Answer #1)

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The previous post was quite accurate in its detail about Douglass.  I would like to add one more element to this.  Douglass' greatest accomplishment was his ability to clearly define to an emerging nation a vision of what can be.  This was in stark contrast to what is.  In my mind, this becomes a vitally important accomplishment.  Douglass' work as both a writer and force of social change helped to give rise to the vision that this nation can strive to be more, to represent more and can mold itself into what can be from what is. The very essence of the Constitution in its stated purpose of "forming a more perfect union" is best seen in individuals like Douglass, who ended up giving much to the experiment called democracy in America.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted February 19, 2010 at 3:46 AM (Answer #2)

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Frederick Douglas was an abolitionist. He had a slave mother and a white father although the identity of his father is unknown. At a young age he learned to read. He was a slave himself and had numerous times been beaten and whipped and was left cold and hungry. Frederick Douglas escaped slavery and continued to educate himself. He was a phenomenal public speaker who inspired many. He was also a great writer and wrote an autobiography and well as countless speeches. He also fought for the rights of women. He is associciated with the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted February 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM (Answer #3)

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Frederick Douglass was the son of a black slave woman and a white man. As a child Douglass witnessed the brutality of slavery first hand. After his mother died he lived with his grandparents but was sent to Baltimore to live with Hugh Auld, who was in the shipping business. Douglass learned how to read while in Baltimore, he also learned that words held potential power especially when they tapped into the emotions of those who were listening. Douglass became a skilled orator in the U.S. and in England. His supporters in England led by Ellen Richardson bought his freedom in 1846. Upon returning to the U.S. Douglass' speeches were all the more in demand. His natural ability to tell 'his' story truthfully and with complete humility translated into the most powerful sense of political persuasion of the time. Douglass understood that his experiences had the capacity to force the nation to really reflect upon those three words...We The People... that ability was both his talent as well as his best accomplishment.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 17, 2010 at 6:49 AM (Answer #4)

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Frederick Douglass was a civil rights leader in the 19th century who was a brilliant writer and speaker.  He had the ability to motivate large crowds of people and on an individual level.  He was self-educated, eloquent, read everything he could get his hands on, and was very forward thinking.

As a former slave, Douglass rose through the ranks of American society to become an informal adviser to Lincoln, and someone who was influential over other abolitionists in the direction of their cause.  He published widely, including his autobiography, which I use in the modern day in my history classroom.

He also became a gifted politician, serving as United States Senator from Massachusetts.  He possessed an indomitable spirit, having risen from slave to Senator.  He refused for his entire life to believe that he was anything less than an equal human being, despite his own enslavement.  His advice to younger African-Americans towards the end of his life was to "Agitate, agitate, agitate".

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