Frederick Douglass

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How did Frederick Douglass respond to slavery?

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Frederick Douglass responded to slavery by defiantly rebelling against it in every way he could.

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Frederick Douglass responded to slavery by defiantly rebelling against it in every way he could. He spent his early life on several different Southern plantations, where he witnessed and was exposed to the brutality that many slaves lived with every day. This hardened him even further against the institution. Definitely, he learned to read and write, something that most slaves were forbidden to do. He also refused to be whipped by Edward Covey, a man with a fierce reputation for breaking a slave's spirit. Instead of allowing Covey to whip him, Douglass ended up in a fist fight with Covey. As you can see from this incident, Douglass responded to the conditions of his servitude with brave defiance.

This defiance was taken to the extreme when Douglass escaped slavery. After starting his life of freedom, Douglass continued his crusade against slavery. Douglass realized that freedom for himself was not enough. He would not rest until all slaves were free. To this end, he published his own slave narrative, which was well received by abolitionists in the United States and in Europe. He became an active member of the abolition movement and a speaker and writer with an immense influence. In all these ways, we can see the defiance in which Frederick Douglass resisted and defied the institution of slavery.

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Douglass, a child living at the time in Baltimore, became depressed when he realized he was destined to remain a slave forever. His mistress, Mrs. Auld, had been teaching him to read until her husband forbade her to continue. When Douglass overheard the husband's reasons for keeping slaves illiterate, such as that they would become uppity and discontented with their lot, he became all the more determined to become literate. He did so despite suspicions aroused in the household every time he was found near a book or printed matter.

Douglass was unhappy as a slave, finding slavery an unjust, unchristian, and dehumanizing institution that had terrible effects on both slaves and masters. He escaped slavery and dedicated himself to countering myths that had grown up around it. He wanted to dispel the ideas, for instance, that masters treated their slaves with kindness or took good care of them. He countered popular notions that slaves were content with their lot with graphic descriptions of slaves being beaten and abused. He countered the argument that they sang because they were happy by saying that they sang out of grief. He stated that slaves would tell whites they were happy to be slaves only out of fear of retribution. He wrote his life story to expose the evils of an institution that he hoped would be abolished.

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As a slave, Frederick Douglass responded to slavery by resisting it. He learned to read, physically resisted an abusive overseer, and ultimately gained his freedom by fleeing to the North. As a free man, Douglass resisted slavery by dedicating his life to its destruction as an institution. Upon arriving in the free state of Massachusetts after making his escape, Douglass became active in the antislavery movement there. He was recruited by leading abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to become a speaker for the cause, and he duly travelled throughout the North and the United Kingdom delivering speeches about the evils of slavery.

In 1845, he published his Autobiography, a book that unflinchingly portrayed slavery in all its horrors. This work became the most famous of many "slave narratives" that helped to galvanize the abolitionist movement in the 1850s. He published his own antislavery newspaper, lobbied politicians (including President Abraham Lincoln) and advocated for the immediate abolition of slavery. So Douglass's response to slavery from his youth until its abolition was to resist it with every means available to him.

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