Black and white illustration of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass
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What is Frederick Douglass's overall claim in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? What evidence does he use to support his claim?

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Writing before slaves were freed in the United States, Douglass' main objective in the Narrative is to dispel any notion that slavery is good for those enslaved. He point-by-point counters a Southern narrative that argued that slavery benefitted black people.

Pro-slavery whites pointed out that black people, when questioned, said they were happy with their situation. They also remarked that slaves were often singing, which was said to prove they were happy, asserted that slaves were well taken of with cradle-to-grave security offered by benign masters, and argued that Christianity insured that white slave owners treated slaves with compassion.

Using stories to illustrate each of his points, Douglass shows that black slaves only tell whites they are happy to avoid retribution, that they sing to mourn and lament their fate, and that owners who have gone to revival meetings and come back "converted" to Christianity feel even more emboldened to beat and mistreat their slaves, because it is...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 980 words.)

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