Frederick Douglass

In the period of Douglass, slavery was divided amongst a nation.The North viewed slavery as a sin, but the South viewed it as necessary for their strong economy.Southern slaveholders were split on how they treated their slaves.Many were switching to a paternalist method, to treat their slaves better in hopes of getting more output from them.Other slave owners were treating slaves just like they always had, beating them for every little thing they could think of.In either case, the owner viewed the slaves as inferior, and believed that the slaves should be ignorant and not allowed the same opportunities as whites.
In this era slaves were to be ignorant because an ignorant slave is the best slave.Slave owners kept their slaves ignorant so they would not question the reasons why they were slaves.In most instances, owners did not allow slaves to know of their birth date.By not knowing their birthday, slave children did not get a sense of their natural identity.In some cases, the mother was also sold while the child was young.This prevented the child from growing up in a nurtured environment.Also, slaves were definitely not allowed to read and write for many reasons.If a slave were literate they would get a sense of self-sufficiency and capability.A slave may try to question the owner and this would be preposterous to the owner.By being literate, a slave would be able to read a northern paper if he or she happened to get his or her hands on one.The northern papers gave reasoning why slavery was unethical and should be abolished.Also a slave could get ideas on the best routes and ways for escape.Furthermore, by keeping a slave illiterate, the North would not get a view of slavery from the slaves prospective.In this, the South was actually controlling what the rest of the American's really knew about slavery.The North could not be told of the slave's side of the story if they were illiterate….


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