Frederick Douglass is a key figure in the abolitionist movement, the African-American press, journalism and literature.
Despite the fact, that Frederick Douglass was a Self-Made Men, many people helped him to understand his own importance for the American history and abolition of slavery. On the pages of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Captain Anthony Colonel, Edward Lloyd, Lucretia Auld, Captain Thomas Auld, Hugh Auld, Sophia Auld, Edward Covey, Betsy Bailey, Aunt Hester, Harriet Bailey, Sandy Jenkins, William Freeland, William Hamilton, William Gardner, Anna Murray, Nathan Johnson, Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison were peculiar catalysts of Frederick’s struggle.
The main objective of this paper is to explain why Colonel Lloyd, Hugh and Sophia Auld, Edward Covey, and Sandy Jenkins had the most significant influence on Douglass’s life.
Being a slave, Frederick Douglass had many masters throughout his life. Colonel Lloyd was the first Douglass’s owner. Lloyd was an extremely rich man with a large number of slaves. As Douglass stated, “Colonel Lloyd kept from three to four hundred slaves on his home plantation and owned a large number more on the neighboring farms belonging to him.”
The richest landowner in the area was the boss of Captain Anthony, who probably was Frederick’s father. The importance of Lloyd’s existence in Frederick’s life consists in th fact that this cruel man, who insisted on total subservience from his slaves and often punished them unjustly, showed little Douglass all horrors of slavery.
Hugh and Sophia Auld, Douglass’s owners from Baltimore, played the most significant role in shaping the personality of young Douglas. They discovered the power of education before him. The character of Sophia Auld has changed dramatically throughout the story. Douglass’s initial characteristic of this woman is idealistic. He described her as “a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings.” The symbolism of her depiction is obvious as well as other characters. Sophia Auld transformed from a kind-hearted and compassionate woman into a cruel and authoritative. Douglass confessed, “The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon”. The reader of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave may observe how her character has changed under the husband’s pressure. Describing this character, Douglass tries to leave the message of how power over men changes slaveholders. The main contribution of Sophia Auld was that she presented Douglass with the world of education. Douglass learned how to read and write.
Hugh Auld was the brother of Thomas Auld, husband of Sophia Auld and Douglass’s master. Without knowing, he shared absolute truth with a young slave saying that white people maintain power over black slaves by depriving them of education. He believed that slaves must be ignorant. Auld repeated, “…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.” With this in mind, Douglass wrote: “These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom”).
The other character, Edward Covey, is known as a poor farmer and slave-breaker. Douglass depicts Covey as a snaking around man, who is terribly cruel, especially psychologically. Douglass presents this man as a false Christian. He is revealed to be a sinner because of the cruel actions. One of the most tremendous episodes of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave is the 2-hours battle between master and his slave. It shows that Douglass is ultimately ready to stand for his rights as an independent man. The reputation of an effective slave-bleaker is the most important thing for the evil master, and he does not declare this event in public. Douglass’s consciousness of a slave changed into the mind of the free individual after this incident.
Sandy Jenkins is a representative of ignorant, poor slaves. He believes that magic root can help a slave to avoid a danger of being whipped. Douglass stated, “I found Sandy an old adviser” (p. 61). Douglass called him a genuine African and dedicated his struggle for people like Sandy Jenkins. Jenkins made an inspired man believe in his own strength. It was a particularly significant contribution into developing of Douglass’s personality.
In conclusion, it should be said that Douglas invested all the powers of his extraordinarily gifted nature, courage, fortitude, exceptional talent of publicist, rich experience in the fight for the complete abolition of slavery and its consequences. Defending views on race equality, he became the leader of the black abolitionists.
Undoubtedly, every character of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave had a significant influence on Frederick’s life. Some of them helped him, while others made him a man with a strong spirit. Those people helped him to believe that he could attack slavery in all its forms as well as assert full exemption, raise moral standards of society, and promote the moral and improvement of the colored Americans.