At a young age, Frederick Douglass knew that his pathway from slavery to freedom was the ability to read and write. Mrs. Auld (his mistress) started teaching him the A,B,C’s willingly but shortly after, Mr. Auld caught on. He got furious and demanded she stopped doing so. “If you teach that nigger how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm.
It would make him discontented and unhappy”(Douglass Pg. 160). These cruel words stuck with Douglass as he used his master’s words as motivation to overcome one of our nation’s biggest mistakes: slavery. It was so hard for Douglass to accept the fact that he would be a slave for the rest of his life. After he had heard his master say such harsh things, he made it his priority to learn how to read. “Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read”(Pg. 61). Every time Douglass had a chance, he would be reading. Whether it was a newspaper, a book, the dictionary, he took whatever he could get his hands on so that he could teach himself how to read in the quickest way possible. And that he did. But Douglass didn’t stop there. He wished to learn to write so that one day when he runs away, he can write his own pass. He thought about attempting to escape several times, but he was a little too young and wasn’t quite educated as he would like to be. So in the meantime, he was teaching himself how to write.
He would copy the italics in the Webster’s Spelling Book until he could write every letter down without looking at the book. He also learned to write by writing the appropriate letter on the pieces of timber at the shipyard. Douglass was willing to do anything and everything to gain an education so that he and his people could be free. On September 3rd, 1838, Frederick Douglass successfully escaped. He was carrying identification papers provided by a freed black man. He crossed the Susquehanna River by ferry at Havre de Grace, then continued to Wilmington, Delaware.
From there he went by steamboat to Philadelphia and continued all the way to New York; all taking less than 24 hours. Douglass’ role in the abolition of slavery is remarkable. He regularly attended abolitionist meetings, became an anti-slavery lecturer, participated in the American Anti-Slavery Society’s hundred conventions project, lectured in Britain and Ireland where supporters arranged to purchase his freedom from his owner. Douglass convinced one of the last living British abolitionist to persuade Parliament to abolish slavery in Great Britain and its colonies.
He also produced several abolitionist newspapers, attended the first women’s rights convention: The Seneca Falls Convention as the only black man in attendance, he fought for desegregation of public schools, and felt that the Constitution could and should be used as a weapon in the fight against slavery. Frederick Douglass is a perfect example of someone who never gave up. His perseverance through all of his hardships is just astonishing. How an African-American male at that given time can have so much hope, desire, and passion truly does inspire me.
He made a stand for the whole black population and he knew that slavery was not the right thing. He taught himself how to read and write and by doing that, he got a whole race to stand behind him and together, they successfully abolished slavery for not only them, but for their children and their children’s children to come. He never second-guessed his beliefs or what he doing not even once, even when he was going through the worst of times. Frederick Douglass will remain an American hero and shall never be forgotten as one of the main African-American figures against the abolition of slavery.