During the period of his enslavement, did Frederick Douglass personify most slaves of his time?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that, on the whole, Douglass's experiences were not the same as those of the typical slave.  They were surely similar in many ways, but there were important differences.

The major similarity is that Douglass seems to have shared most of the hardships of slave life.  He describes how there was not really enough to eat and he talks about how bad his clothes were and things like that.  That is pretty typical.

However, there are a few differences that I can think of right off:

  • He was the son of a white man, possibly the master.  This was not uncommon, but it's not like most slaves were sons of their master.  This would have set him apart from the other slaves to some extent.
  • He did not really live and work on a plantation, at least not for his whole time as a slave.
  • He (partly because of growing up in a city) learned to read and write.

Altogether, then, I would say that Douglass probably had a somewhat easier life than the typical slave of his time.

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