Good The Life Of Fredrick Douglass Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Slavery, Slave, America, Violence, United States, Law, Criminal Justice, Food

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/10/25

Analysis and evaluation of the violence of slavery, using Douglass and Zinn

This is a psychological analysis as well as a discussion of emotional violence, physical punishment, and murder meted out to the African American slaves in America in the 18th Century. It is also an evaluation of the relationship between violence and the law, the American legal and political system in force at the time, a lack of legal status and rights for American blacks during this pre-Civil War, early 1800s period. The discourse mostly focuses on narrations in the book, Narrative of the Life Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave.

Fredrick Douglass was born to an American slave in the early 1800. He explains that he does not know the exact date of his birth seeing that his mother died while he was still very young (7 years old) and he did not know his father. Slaves’ children were often separated from their family and therefore had little opportunity to know about their parents. This was the case for Fredrick Douglass.
Fredrick Douglass experienced the first hand emotional and physical abuse when he went to live at Thomas Auld’s farm. Here, he, his sister, aunt, and another woman are given very little food. To survive, they are forced to steal and beg for food from neighbors. Douglass tells us that his master was not born with slaves but rather married into a family that had them. He explains that such slave masters were the worst and most cruel as opposed to those that had been born in families that had slaves. Douglass’s misadventures of looking for food at the neighbors make his boss angry and he decides to send him to the crueler Edward Covey who had the notorious reputation of breaking slaves who were difficult for their owners. Despite the initial fear of the new slave master, Fredrick Douglass is happy to go away, because at Covey’s he will get sufficient food.
At Coveys, Fredrick Douglass faces a myriad of problems. First, being used to working in the Kitchen, he is unaccustomed to field work. Covey canes him almost every week due to his awkwardness in the field. Second, he has to work all day in the field with only a short break for meals. Only opportunity he has for rest is Sunday. At this point, Fredrick Douglass even considers killing himself. He is emotionally tortured to the extent that he loses his desire to learn, his intellect and natural cheerfulness.
Edward Covey also sees the slaves as animals for his own pleasure. He for instance has one slave named Caroline who has been designated as a breeder. Her work is to produce more slaves for her slave owner Covey. He has hired a man whose primary task is to sleep with Caroline to produce more slaves for her slave master. This shows how slave masters viewed the slaves under their rule, as animals whose sole purpose is to create wealth for them.

The legal and political system

The legal, religious, and political environment is supportive of the roles of slaves and slave master. Fredrick Douglass notes that the slave masters used to find justification for their actions in Christianity. According to Douglass, Edward Covey, deceives himself by engaging in religious activities to maintain his sense of moral righteousness despite his mistreatment of those he considers his slaves. The church on the other hand benefits from slave holding wealth and therefore does not raise a finger against the mistreatment of slaves. Fredrick Douglass calls this false Christianity.
Slaves were not allowed to vote, they were not allowed to be enlisted in the armed forces, were not allowed to own land and so on. This discriminatory practices anchored in the constitution were repressive to African American slaves. Douglass’ lobbying helped abolish some of these bad laws. For instance,
Fredrick Douglass campaigned hard for slavery to be abolished. During the civil war of 1861 to 1865, he lobbied the North and President Abraham Lincoln for slavery to be abolished and for the black people to join the union’s armed forces. More than 200,000 African Americans were enlisted in the Union Armed Forces. In 1865, after the end of the war, the thirteenth amendment was instituted formally ending the slavery in the United States. Later, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments in 1868 and 1870 respectively allowed African Americans to vote and protected all individuals against the trampling of their constitutional rights by individual States.

Slavery violence

Slavery was associated with violence meted out against African Americans as is explained by Fredrick Douglass. Other authors such as Zinn, collaborate the information given by Douglass. African Americans were not free to conduct their business. They had to work for their masters free of charge and often endured severe cruelty from their masters. This involved physical and emotional abuse. For instance, Douglass points out that his first slave master never provided enough food for his staff. As such, they had to steal or beg to get enough to eat. This is despite of the often-rotting food in the stores. Douglass could not understand why he received substandard treatment.
Other cases of emotional abuse include when his second slave master, Edward Covey acquires a slave to be breeding for him. This is despite him being a very religious man. This goes to how that the slave masters considered the slaves as animals, only useful for hard labor and in advancing their financial interests. There was also a string of physical attacks on the person. For instance, Fredrick Douglass talks of weekly physical punishment at the home of Edward Covey.
This and other forms of abuse were perpetrated to coerce African Americans into accepting their fate and never seeking a solution to get out of slavery. In fact, the tough punishment for small crimes such as trying to fight back was often death. This made African Americans never able to fight back. Death by hanging, burning or lynching from lynch mobs was allowed by law. Association was not allowed. Thus, African Americans could not meet, plan or engage in any activity together. This enhanced the white slaveholders cause and dissuaded the African Americans from taking action.
Some of the reasons that helped create slavery were the high level of desperation by the starving settlers who were unable to till their land and thus needed extra help to till the land and produce enough food. In addition, displaced Africans were helpless because their family ties had been cut and they were in a foreign country, speaking a different language and unable to understand each other. Profits fueled the slave trade further. The slave traders received a handsome profit for the slaves that made it alive to America. This created the incentives for continued slave trade. There were very harsh rules against escape and rebellion. These rules were enforced by the presence of legal and social punishment for those that helped the African Americans. These factors helped advance slavery and the slave trade in America.

Works Cited

Douglass, Fredrick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New York: Wilder Publication, 2008.
Saunders, J. "Drawing the Color Line." n.d.

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