What is Douglass's attitude on violence toward slave owners? Do you agree?from the narrative ofthe life of fredreick douglass.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can read about his views of violence in chapter 10 here on eNotes - see the link below. While he is being beat unmercifully by Edward Covey, Douglass finally decides to fight back, determining:

He asked me if I meant to persist in my resistance. I told him I did, come what might; that he had used me like a brute for six months, and that I was determined to be used so no longer

Douglass defends pacifism in his speeches and articles (before 1847) but as this fight illustrates, there is a degree of redemption for him in fighting back. His autobiography, therefore, seems to believe that violence is justified, especially with slave breakers like Edward Covey.

After the fight with Covey, Douglass writes:

This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood.

So, do you agree? Did the abominable actions of the slaveholders justify the violence against them in return? Was the violence only justified on a one-on-one basis, that is, to defend onself, or could violence and slave uprisings be justified against ALL slaveholders due to the action of slaveholders in general? That is what you must argue. Is it justifiable to repay evil with evil? And yet, to be a slave........to read this first hand account by Douglass ..... it is hard to answer this question because one tends to want to say "no, it is not justified" in theory, but "yes, it is justified" in fact.

What do you think?

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