Frederick Douglass, once a slave, was one of the great 19th century American orators and the most important African American voice of his era. This book traces the development of his rhetorical skills, discusses the effect of his oratory on his contemporaries, and analyzes the specific oratorical techniques he employed.
The first part is a biographical sketch of Douglass's life, dealing with his years of slavery (1818-1837), his prewar years of freedom (1837-1861), the Civil War (1861-1865), and postwar years (1865-1895). Chesebrough emphasizes the centrality of oratory to Douglass's life, even during the years in slavery. The second part looks at his oratorical techniques and concludes with three speeches from different periods. Students and scholars of communications, U.S. history, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and African American studies will be interested in this book.