What did “freedom” meant to Frederick Douglass? What right and responsibilities did it entail?
Born of slave parents in the ancient ages of minimal or no civilization, Fredrick Douglas gradually developed in the slavery environment with an unquestionable and persistent urge to equally compete and enjoy his live without necessarily having to follow the manual of living as dictated by his master (Douglass, 16). Unlike other slaves of the ancient American environment, Douglas opted for an intellectual approach to acquire the power, leverage and charisma to introduce freedom from the white masters. Freedom to Douglas therefore meant intellectual and gradual revolt to the inhumane administration of the white masters.
To acquire the support of the humane masters therefore; the journey to freedom had to start from a strategic planning. While serving his master in Eastern Shore of Maryland and Baltimore; Douglas gradually won the heart of his masters and hence started learning Basic English (Reed, 5). He later developed to contact the free, powerful and educated blacks within the society. Upon educational empowerment, Douglas knew clearly the freedom is not a welcomed move in the slavery ages. His freedom strategy therefore had to swiftly maneuver through the static slavery regime.
Freedom to Douglas is a basic need denied to the slaves by their masters in order to safeguard the selfish interests of the masters. Nonetheless, Douglas had the passion, zeal and knowledge to unite with the abolitionists and already empowered free blacks to counter the dogmatic approach of the dominant forces of the slave masters (Douglass, 56). Freedom according to Douglas is a lifetime struggle to equal the biased odds in the quest to provide the less fortunate with an opportunity to equally enjoy the resources that any society has to offer. Douglas is however very specific, honest and unwavering in setting the basic requirements of the warriors responsible for staging the revolt from the bondage of the slave masters.
Unity among the slaves is the primary requirement of the warriors as per Douglas. Since the masters of this society are accruing incredible profits from the existence of these slaves; Fredrick knew clearly that any attempt to empower the slaves from an abolitionists approach or an academic approach would attract exclusive use of force, resources and administrative policies by their hosts (Douglass, 87). Freedom is in fact the post-world war affair facing the slaves. In as much as the slaves appeared physically happy; they are deeply traumatized and exhausted by the inhumane treatment suffered under the helm of the slave masters.
What then should be the most appropriate criteria to free the slaves from the mistreatment, brainwashing, manipulation and abuse by the masters? Douglas immediate approach after acquiring the English knowledge was to escape from the slavery environment and reunite with Anna Murray of the free black society (Douglass, 98). Courage is a personal trait of Douglas that makes him such an important figure of the abolitionist movement. Escaping from Baltimore to New York activates the wrath and concern of the slave masters and hence Douglas is faced with massive hatred and concern from the slave dictators.
Nonetheless, the determination of Anna and Douglas stands out as a key requirement in the war against slavery. To make the abolitionist movement even more strong and influential Douglas had to traverse America in the quest to develop a stable base of freedom fighters to counter the escalating state of inhumane treatment of the slaves by their masters. The Anti-Slavery Society in particular presented Douglas with even greater opposition in the form of leadership wrangles (Reed, 12).
Influential black leaders such as Garrison for instance accused Douglas of double standards arguing that Douglas’s approach to freedom brought in the table credibility issues since Douglas was in immediate beneficiary of the unique treatment from the white masters. According to Garrison, Douglas’s freedom gospel was merely hypothetical leaving out the philosophical, grandiloquence and cogent arguments of other freedom fighters (Reed, 17). Fortunately, to Douglas such criticism offered him with even greater leadership abilities and experience to handle different ideologies from divergent quotas of the freedom front.
To authenticate the goals of the freedom movement, Douglas employed realistic cases and in particular employs the genuine names of freedom warriors as well as freedom battle zones that he and his close confidants staged in the quest to set free the black community from the hands of the white masters (Douglass, 112). Freedom fighting therefore requires self-denial for the overall goodness of the minority and the loved ones. Dedication married together with determination and humility are key requirements in freedom fighting. To lead his community from the pathetic lifestyle; Douglas sacrifices nearly all of his worth, pleasure and respect to earn the much needed freedom for the slaves.
The narrative of Frederick Douglas depicts a black freedom fighter that rises from the slavery childhood and struggles against all odds to deliver freedom to the loved ones. And as Douglas points out; it is a lifetime war that never seizes as long as it is commenced by some. To acquire and sustain freedom; one must be ready to part with the basic needs as well as a normal life in quest to earn the desired freedom.
Reed J.S. Arthea. A Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave. Signet Classic. Penguin.
Web<http://www.penguin.com/static/pdf/teachersguides/narrative.pdf>. Accessed. 25th Jan 2016.
Douglass, Frederick. Narratie of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Easyread Super Large 24pt edition. Print. 2008.