Identify aspects of slavery that Frederick Douglass consider the worst.

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

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I think that Douglass would consider many elements to define slavery as one of the worst experiences that individuals could endure as well as perpetrate upon another.  The mere cruelty that Douglass brings out in his narrative would be one aspect.  The forced subjugation of one to another, the separation of families, the denial of voice, and the horrific mistreatment of the weak and the young would all be examples of what Douglass would consider to worst aspects of slavery.  Additionally, the fact that slavery's presence negates the promises and possibilities of American democracy are additional elements that Douglass would argue as representing the worst elements of slavery.  Douglass suggests that a nation predicated upon freedom and individual choice cannot allow slavery to exist.  A nation that sought freedom from subjugation cannot stand properly when millions are themselves enslaved.  Another one of these horrific aspects of slavery for Douglass would have to be the construction of Christianity.  Douglass argues that some of the most "Christian" figures are actually the most "non- Christian" when it comes to slavery.  Douglass' line that there is no difference between the church bell and the slave auctioneer's bell is an example of this.  Slavery's presence reduces the element of Christianity in American society, for no practicing and Christian believer could ever embrace the idea of slavery as being sanctioned by the Bible.  It is here where I think that Douglass' critique of slavery is most resounding in terms of elements and aspects that can be seen as awful and, to a sense, the "worst."


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