Posted: February 16th, 2023

From Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” what pro-slavery arguments of its proponents does Douglass refer to or hint at in his narrative?  How does he counter the various pro-slavery arguments?

In Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” he makes reference to a number of pro-slavery arguments held by its proponents. He counters each argument with his own experiences and perspective on slavery.

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 .

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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.

From Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” what pro-slavery arguments of its proponents does Douglass refer to or hint at in his narrative?  How does he counter the various pro-slavery arguments?

Finally ,many argued simply due to widespread acceptance over centuries so too must be viewed as justifiable -or even desirable-. Rather than accept this premise however ,Douglass criticized how desensitized people became towards cruelty caused by enslavement : “…the practice grew up…of speakingoftheslaveasdronethingsinanimateornonpersonalthatcouldbeboughtandsoldandsortedlikeotherarticlesoftraffick” His use here of passive language coupled with harsh imagery served well to demonstrate what an abhorrent institution actually allowed certain individuals too freely engage within ; something doubly shameful given unintended implications regarding humanity’s collective treatment towards our fellow man .

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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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