History 11 – Fredrick Douglass narative Esssay

Frederick Douglass lived the first twenty years of his life as an enslaved person in Maryland on both a rural planation and in the city of Baltimore. He experienced first-hand the cruel impact slavery had on the enslaved and even their owners, and after his escape, wanted to share these experiences with Americans living in northern states in the hopes of getting them to commit to the abolition movement. He attacks the institution of slavery on many levels: from its immorality, to its economic limits and even how it undermined the American concepts of liberty and equality. Douglass addressed these issues in the narrative that he wrote in 1845 after his escape from slavery. The purpose of this assignment is to explain why Douglass chose to include the stories he did in his narrative and why he expected them to move his readers to action in the cause against slavery. How do the stories Douglass shares in his narrative tie in to these issues of the immorality and danger that slavery poses to individual Americans (both free and enslaved), and to the country as a whole. Why does Douglass think telling his story to northerners will get their attention and move them to action, when those same stories will do nothing to change the attitudes of southerners? Why tell his readers about his childhood, or his white owners or his learning to read or write? In your essay, you should consider what southerners like John Calhoun or George Fitzhugh are saying about slavery and how that propaganda fit into what Douglass is telling his readers. You will need to choose a few of the more impactful episodes he describes and explain how they fit into Douglass’ abolitionist message, and remember he is not just looking at the impact on African Americans but white Americans as well. Your paper should look into not just moral justifications Douglass uses to oppose slavery, but also for economic and racial issues also. Please note: Your essay should not attempt to answer all of these questions as you would tackle a laundry list, covering each question, one by one. Instead, you should approach them as a prompt to get you thinking about what Douglass was trying to do in his narrative. In short, you should aim to produce a coherent essay that addresses the general theme of the prompt as a whole. In citing sources, you do not have to cite information that is considered general knowledge. Much of the information in lecture and in the textbook is considered general knowledge. You do need to provide citations for things like statistics and, of course, any time you quote from a source, you must cite that direct quote. You are expected to use citations for this assignment, but a simple MLA style is considered sufficient. To properly cite from the Douglass book you would simply need to place a parenthetical note at the end of the sentence where the information appears. Example of a MLA style citation: (Douglass, 16) where the author’s name and the page number the info comes from are included in the parentheses. You may want additional information to support your points and are encouraged to use sources from outside the class (although it is not necessary).

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