Posted: February 16th, 2023
One argument made by pro-slavery advocates was that slaves were content and happy in their condition. This was refuted directly in Douglass’ narrative when he wrote: “I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.” Being born into slavery, Douglass had witnessed firsthand that slaves could not be conditioned or trained into being satisfied with their status as property; instead they naturally desired freedom. He also suggested through his writing that it was the fear of punishment which kept slaves from rebelling against their owners and not any sort of happiness or contentment.
Another popular pro-slavery notion at the time was that slavery served as an important part of civilization and civilization itself would collapse without it. In essence this belief sought to paint slavery as beneficial for both masters and slaves alike but this idea is challenged in several ways throughout the narrative. First, Douglass stated flatly: “Slavery proves itself a moral evil…there is no possible circumstance under which such relation can exist without destroying the morality of those concerned in it”. Secondly, he illustrated how some white people depended upon slave labor while denying them basic rights; suggesting there were other more equitable systems available if they chose not to rely on enslaved labor thus refuting any claim about necessity for society’s stability or prosperity .
A third point often made by defenders of slavery was based around religious doctrine claiming servitude rooted in Christian values (i.e., obedience) benefits Black Americans spiritually even though physically confined to bondage and brutality . However, rather than accepting this view on faith alone ,Douglass instead used his knowledge gained from studying religion himself – despite restrictions placed upon him -to refute these claims through intellectual means: “Religion! What Religion! Withgroansnot heard – with tearsalforgotten!” Here he poignantly points out how hypocritical many churches are when preaching Christianity yet continue upholding practices such as slavery who ignore lamentations created by oppression.
Overall ,Frederick Douglas effectively countered each point made by defenders of American Slavery utilizing both personal experiences coupled alongside keen observation skills honed during arduous journey towards freedom . These responses demonstrated unequivocally why servitude rooted within immoral grounds never could nor should ever serve justice ; only misery born out ignorance leading too exponential tragedy if left unabated .
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