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The Hypocrisy of American Slavery by Frederick Douglass – Essay Example

The Hypocrisy of American Slavery by Frederick Douglass – Essay Example

Frederick Douglass (February 1818 – November 1895) was a writer, activist and a leader of the liberation movement of blacks in the USA. Illegitimate son of a white and a black slave experienced the horror of slavery on southern plantations from a young age. He was treated there like an animal and was not even called by a name. In 1838, he fled to the North, where he worked at the shipyard. That was where he took his surname Douglas. There he also learned how to read and discovered a lot of hidden talents, such as natural intelligence and oratorical skills.

In 1841, he joined the abolitionist movement, as an ardent supporter of William L. Harrison. He traveled around the country giving speeches and participating in various antislavery events. During this he was often exposed to the mortal danger, for example, he participated in the “underground railroad” where he was rescuing refugees. In such a way, he showed his devotion to the “sacred cause” and his hatred towards the entire system of slavery. In 1841-1845, he was a lecturer at the Massachusetts and American Society antislavery campaign.

After that, he spent approximately 2 years in England and Ireland, where he became friends with the Chartists and was published in their newspapers. In 1847, he was redeemed from slavery by his English friends. When he became a free man, he led the newspaper “North Star”, which was later renamed in “Frederick Douglass’s Paper”. He launched on its pages a fiery campaign against slavery, showing its absolute immorality and fighting for immediate release of captives. In 1850, after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, he began to support active control methods.

In a famous speech, “The Hypocrisy of American Slavery” (1852) Frederick argued that slavery was contrary to the constitution of the country, which at the time needed fundamental changes, as slavery, according to him was “the greatest sin and shame of America”. During the Civil War, he took an active part in the formation of Negro combat units, including two regiments in Massachusetts. He had repeatedly appealed to President A. Lincoln, whom he warmly supported, and encouraged to fight against Southerners with greater determination. During reconstruction, he continued to defend the interests of blacks, as he was an outstanding strategist and tactician of the abolitionist movement. In 1870-1880s, he held a number of diplomatic and legal positions and became a recognized leader of black Americans.

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