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This essay will look at Douglass' life in two perspectives and at two different places; life in the South as a slave and life in the North as a freeman. Slavery affects negatively the lives of the southerners not only the slaves but also the slaveholders. The slaves use different strategies even risking death just to get away from the pangs of heir angry masters who can beat them or may shoot them to death and nothing be done to them. He watches as he is classified alongside the cows, goats and sheep of his master, sleeps on a hungry stomach and his aunt beaten to death. He trains himself how to read and later plots to escape to the North. He realizes that unlike in the North, he now has freedom-he is a freeman. He is introduced to an abolition movement and given a rank. He is proud as he can make his own money without giving hem back to his master; he is his own boss.
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How slavery affected Africans Americans in the South
The author says that a slave is the victim of the slave system. He says that a man is charged from the form and the color about him. The masters seldom treated slaves affectionately nor kind, but usually the slaves were treated with a lot of cruelty and wickedness, they were heartless worse than a human brute. They used to beat the slaves thoroughly, this is shown from the Plummer and the poor girl (My Bondage and My Freedom, pg.64) who had walked twelve miles bare-foot, bare-necked and bare-headed and whose neck and shoulders were covered with scars, newly made after the 'cowardly brute' had dealt her a blow on the head with a hickory club. On trying to seek refuge from Frederick's old master, he instead angrily yells at her and tells her that she deserved every bit of it and if she hesitated going home instantly he could himself remove the remaining skin from her neck and back. This shows the brutality with which the slaves were treated with by their masters.
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During his time working for Covey, Douglass hits a low point in his life that no longer feels to live, he says that he has been transformed from a man to a brute. Slaves were also not allowed to court their peers especially if the girl in question looked pretty, not that the masters were concerned about the girls' welfare, it was just characteristic of the slave system-the slaves were just robbed of their incentive to a holy life. The author says that he was separated form his family early enough in life, his mother had died, his grandmother was far away while he did not know the whereabouts of his brother and sisters. Therefore due to slavery family ties were severed and the masters cared nothing on the part of the slaves, in fact the slaves were ranked along with animals.
Strategies used by slaves to resist slavery
Due to the brutalities inflicted on the slaves, they used all forms of ways to resist the inhumane treatment. They tried running away from their masters, but they were often captured (My Bondage and My Freedom, pg.123), the slave here was captured on the second attempt to run away. Douglass and other slaves in 1836 tried to escape but were unsuccessful. They were put in jail but captain Auld sent him back to Baltimore to live with his brother. The slaves used to offer resistance to brutality of the whites, but the whites were although justified to shoot them down. On Mr. Covey's farm where Douglass is usually overworked and constantly beaten, he one day tries to fight back after he got a severe beating thus salves tied to retaliate when they felt it was to much to take in. Also, slaves tried to teach themselves how to read and write which they thought could liberate them. At the age of twelve years, Douglass was able to read the Columbian Orator. He teaches himself how to write on thinking that he may need to write his pass one day.
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How slavery affected whites in the South
Slavery made the South whites angrier, we are told of an instance in which Mr. Auld rebuked his wife of attempting to teach Douglass, slavery turned her from an angelic person to a cruel, bitter slaveholder. After before a slave holder, Mrs. Sophia Auld was pure, kind and with a lot of generosity but this changes after she becomes a slaveholder, slavery robbed her of all the good qualities in her. The writer decries the practice of slavery and its dehumanizing effects not only on the part of slaves but also on the slaveholders. Killing a slave in Talbot County is often considered not a criminal offence. Many murders go unpunished.
Relationship between the slaves and slaveholders
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Usually the slaves were treated alongside the animals on the slaveholders farm. The conditions of sleeping is just deplorable and laughable. The slaves used to sleep on cold floors on a hungry stomach. Simply, the slaves were just a property of the slaveholders but were uncared fot.. The slaves are corrupted to think that their masters are superior and are just left to begging for food.
Life in the North
Here at the North there is a great difference between the slavery of the North and the South. The writer says that there was no loud singing like in the south, there was labor without noise and no cursing. Colored people here lived in better houses and owned some businesses like that of selling books.
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How Douglass' life improved
While in the North, Douglass says that he felt as a free man and was assured of his safety. He found employment on the third day he arrived in New Bedford, although hard work it was but he was happy because he was his own master and thus nobody to rob him of his earnings.
Continued oppressive practices and beliefs
Oppression is everywhere even in the North and of the unthinkable places-the church. The whites are served first then after ensuring that no white is remaining, the colored brethrens are then served, this even made Douglass never to go into that church again. There also an incident where a white threatens to inform the former masters of a slave's whereabouts, this shows prejudice some of the whites in the North have onto the colored people. Because of the inferiority of the black people, they often betrayed others to be recaptured.
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Treatment by whites in the North
Although life in the North was better than it was in the South, the slogan once a slave always a slave stood out. The whites in the North often regarded colored people as fools who were to confessed runaway slaves- a confession of a very low origin. For the first time, Douglass says that he saw heavy toil without a whip. In New Bedford we are told that a black man's children went to school with a white man's child- this shows that slavery was dying and blacks were being recognized as humans unlike in Baltimore.
Strengths of the Abolition movements
Abolitions were anti-slavery conventions. Strengths of such movement was in its leaders, like Mr. Garrison who put unequaled power and energy and was so inspirational to thousands of colored people. The Anti-slavery Standard and the Liberator also united the members and added more to the movement.
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Weaknesses of the movement
Douglass complains about his colored friends who thought badly of his wisdom and made him to degrade himself. Trouble came when some people thought that he was not a slave but an imposter yet he was their leader. This threatened his position and he felt dejected that he had to give out his story which later exposed him to be recapture again.
From Douglass memoirs, it is clear that life as a slave was really hard; the whites cared very little on their living conditions but only on what they can do on their farms. They were severely beaten sometimes to death or were just shot. Life as a black in the South was more hell for the slaves, the whites in the South treated them with a lot of brutality. Douglass hits a low point in his life that no longer he feels to live, he says that he has been transformed from a man to a brute, this was after a severe beating from Covey his master. But when he moves to the North his life drastically changes and now he was his own boss, pocketing all the money he worked for. He saw the living conditions of some blacks as a total contrast to what he was used to in the South. He later joins an abolition movement.