MY BONDAGE and MY FREEDOM

MY BONDAGE and MY FREEDOM

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by Frederick Douglass
     
 

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INTRODUCTION


When a man raises himself from the lowest condition in society to
the highest, mankind pay him the tribute of their admiration; when he
accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by prudence and
wisdom, their admiration is increased; but when his course, onward and
upward, excellent in itself, furthermore proves a… See more details below

Overview

INTRODUCTION


When a man raises himself from the lowest condition in society to
the highest, mankind pay him the tribute of their admiration; when he
accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by prudence and
wisdom, their admiration is increased; but when his course, onward and
upward, excellent in itself, furthermore proves a possible, what had
hitherto been regarded as an impossible, reform, then he becomes a
burning and a shining light, on which the aged may look with gladness,
the young with hope, and the down-trodden, as a representative of
what they may themselves become. To such a man, dear reader, it is my
privilege to introduce you.

The life of Frederick Douglass, recorded in the pages which follow,
is not merely an example of self-elevation under the most adverse
circumstances; it is, moreover, a noble vindication of the highest aims
of the American anti-slavery movement. The real object of that movement
is not only to disenthrall, it is, also, to bestow upon the Negro the
exercise of all those rights, from the possession of which he has been
so long debarred.

But this full recognition of the colored man to the right, and the
entire admission of the same to the full privileges, political,
religious and social, of manhood, requires powerful effort on the part
of the enthralled, as well as on the part of those who would disenthrall
them. The people at large must feel the conviction, as well as admit the
abstract logic, of human equality;{5} the Negro, for the first time in
the world's history, brought in full contact with high civilization,
must prove his title first to all that is demanded for him; in the teeth
of unequal chances, he must prove himself equal to the mass of those who
oppress him--therefore, absolutely superior to his apparent fate, and
to their relative ability. And it is most cheering to the friends of
freedom, today, that evidence of this equality is rapidly accumulating,
not from the ranks of the half-freed colored people of the free states,
but from the very depths of slavery itself; the indestructible equality
of man to man is demonstrated by the ease with which black men, scarce
one remove from barbarism--if slavery can be honored with such a
distinction--vault into the high places of the most advanced and
painfully acquired civilization. Ward and Garnett, Wells Brown and
Pennington, Loguen and Douglass, are banners on the outer wall, under
which abolition is fighting its most successful battles, because
they are living exemplars of the practicability of the most radical
abolitionism; for, they were all of them born to the doom of slavery,
some of them remained slaves until adult age, yet they all have not
only won equality to their white fellow citizens, in civil, religious,
political and social rank, but they have also illustrated and adorned
our common country by their genius, learning and eloquence.

The characteristics whereby Mr. Douglass has won first rank among these
remarkable men, and is still rising toward highest rank among living
Americans, are abundantly laid bare in the book before us. Like the
autobiography of Hugh Miller, it carries us so far back into early
childhood, as to throw light upon the question, "when positive and
persistent memory begins in the human being." And, like Hugh Miller, he
must have been a shy old-fashioned child, occasionally oppressed by what
he could not well account for, peering and poking about among the layers
of right and wrong, of tyrant and thrall, and the wonderfulness of that
hopeless tide of things which brought power to one race, and unrequited
toil to another, until, finally, he stumbled upon{6} his "first-found
Ammonite," hidden away down in the depths of his own nature, and which
revealed to him the fact that liberty and right, for all men, were
anterior to slavery and wrong. When his knowledge of the world was
bounded by the visible horizon on Col. Lloyd's plantation, and while
every thing around him bore a fixed, iron stamp, as if it had always
been so, this was, for one so young, a notable discovery.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940012263964
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
03/02/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
0 MB

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