Option #1: Writing Summaries: Frederick Douglass’ “Escape from Slavery”
September 3, 1838 Frederick Bailey started risky journey of his life. 20 years old slave made an escape from his master in Baltimore, and with new found freedom came a new name that was Frederick Douglass.
During his journey to freedom Douglass was able to avoid slave capturers from Maryland a slave state at the time, Philadelphia, and New York. Among the many obstacles Douglass encounters during his escape, the most unusual one is when he witnessed slave capturers that were of the same skin color as him. One would find it odd that blacks would capture and send other black individuals back to their slave holders. Money would be a major factor that influenced black individuals to partake in capturing slaves.
In Frederick Douglass short essay My Escape from Slavery, Douglass discusses the obstacles he had to overcome during his escape from slavery. The major theme of Douglass’s essay is his individual experience during his escape to free a state. He creates imagery that allows the reader to experience his dangerous journey without physically going through what he experienced.
Slave owners targeted free blacks to hire because at the time many free blacks were living in poverty stricken areas and were among the financially unfit. Free blacks had families and children of their own and needed to provide for their loved ones. A reader looks at the action as unjust, but black capturers saw the job opportunity as a way to provide for their families. Black capturers would view runaway slaves as fugitives and saw it was their job to capture them. They would not let the similar color of skin that the two may share come in between their way of earning money.
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Frederick Douglas journey began in Baltimore, Maryland. Douglas would then take a train to Philadelphia. In order to board the train without being captured Douglass acted as a sailor carrying around Seaman’s protection papers that he received from an old acquaintance. The climax of Douglass story comes when the Conductor at the train station analyzes Douglass seaport papers. Douglas knows it is at this time when his life can make a dramatic change.
If the conductor toughly looks at Douglass seaports papers and realizes the individuals described on the paper does not fit the physical characteristics of Douglass. He could face criminal charges as well as being sent to his former slave holder. Fortunately, the conductor lets Douglass board the train not focusing on the physical features of the gentlemen in which the seaport papers describe. Douglas will go through many more checkpoints in Delaware, Philadelphia where slave catchers were most vigilant but, no danger was as evident as the Maryland Boarding.
When reaching New York he felt a great deal of relief. New York was a free state and after all the obstacles he had overcome to get to New York for the moment his dreams and hopes as a child was filled. He escaped the slave terrorirries and now was excited to start a new life, one of prosperity. Unfortunately Douglass dream was not fully accomplished just yet. Upon his arrival in New York, Douglass met another escaped slave that told him
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New York was full of southerners returning from the Northern watering places; that the colored people of New York were not to be trusted, that they were hired men of his skin color who would betray him for a few dollars.that they were hired men ever on the lookout for fugitives; that he must trust no man and never think of going either upon wharves or into any colored boarding house, for all such places closely watched.
The black individual who Douglass encounters in New York established money as the main influence that drove black’s to capture runaway slaves. Free black individuals in this era lived in the most poverty stricken areas. Many black men had families to take care of, children to nourish and their lack of education made jabs untrainable. Free blacks had resort to any kind of job to earn money and provide for their family. Slave capturing was a prosperous business for black’s individuals at the time and they too full advantage.
Frederic k Douglass escape from slavery finally comes to an end when he arrives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Douglass was assured that no slave holder could take out a slave in New Bedford by Nathan Johnson. Johnson was a major influence in Douglass life after his arrival. Johnson a former laborer his self and citizen of the grand old commonwealth of Massachusetts. with his connections with government officials he was able to acquire citizenship papers for Douglass and assured that he was now a citizen of New Bedford and he wouldn’t have to worry about slave capturer trying to take him of the state of Massachusetts because it was against the law.
When forming the documentation with Douglass’s new identity, Johnson changed Frederick last name from bailey to Douglass. As a slave he was known as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. The name Frederick Douglass would follow him for the next forty years. As he worked as a laborer for a few years to support his family. He would then go on new endeavors to help abolish slavery in the near future.
Summary of Douglass story, is although he escaped slavery there were thousands of other black slaves who did not make it and suffered major consequences consisting of sometimes death. The diction Douglass uses in his short story appeals to the reader’s senses, his dramatic scenes that capture his escape allows readers to see what he saw during the dangerous journey. One can feel how scared douglass was when entering new states that were surrounded by slave catchers. Douglass characterization of individuals he encountered through his journey enabled readers to imagine what he viewed.
Douglass always looked back on September 3, 1838. The day when his free life began and until he died he celebrated the date in place of his unknown birthday.
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