The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass i

FREDERICK DOUGLASS” PURPOSE: This paper is designed to expose students to primary sources and to learn how to use them in order to understand historical problems such as American slavery. The basic rule here is to produce neat and professional work, which for this paper means the following: FORMAT: 1. Typed, 11 Verdana font, double-spaced, left-justified and frequent use of paragraphs to break up the text. 2. Correct spelling and grammar. Every computer word- processing program has spell-check, so use it! Also, it is always better to have someone trustworthy to proof read your paper before you submit the final copy. Sloppiness detracts from the force of your positions. If a paper has too many errors it will not be accepted for credit. 3. When quoting or paraphrasing a passage from the text, make sure you simply cite the page number as a footnote. Do it like this: (p.67) No other form of citations will be accepted.

4. Each of the paragraphs in the paper will begin with a strong topic sentence and finish with a proper transition phase to link it to the next idea or question to be discussed. The paper must flow smoothly from point to point, ending with a solid conclusion. 5. Once you complete your paper, submit it to the folder as a Rich Text Format file so I can print them out.


The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is one of the most powerful and moving documents of the anti- slavery era. In it, Douglass writes a devastating critique of the slave society of the South and the entire nation which allowed such a horrible system to exist. As you read his story, look for sections of the work which deal with the following questions. Each of these questions must be addressed in one paragraph of your paper. Link the questions together with proper transitions and fully explore what each question is asking you to address—don’t just answer the questions like a homework assignment, as this is a formal paper. 1. Who was Douglass’s father and why was this is such an important aspect of his story? 2. What was the fate of his mother and the rest of his natural family? Why did Douglass emphasize this part of the slave system? 3. What were the differences between country slaves and the city slaves Douglass saw in Baltimore? 4. Describe the character of Mr. Gore and Mr. Covey, and how they tried to control the slaves under their command. 5. How effective was whipping in terms of breaking the spirit of willful slaves like Douglass? Explain the role of fear and violence in maintaining the slave system and how it affected both blacks and whites. 6. Why did Douglass believe slavery caused Mrs. Auld to change in character after he came to live in her house in Baltimore? How did slavery dehumanize both slave and master? 7. What was the event that caused Douglass to cease being a slave and become a man? Why didn’t all slaves experience this transformation? 8. Why was learning to read and write so important to Douglass and why did the slaveholders ban literacy from their slaves? 9. Explain Douglass’s contempt for Christianity as practiced in both the North and South. 10. Why did Douglass believe that slaves sang? 11. What conclusion did Douglass reach after he arrived in New Bedford about the economic worth of free labor versus slavery? 12. If one can assume that Douglass’s account of slavery is true, what moral or economic reasons could white Southerners claim as justification for such a society?

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