Education Was A Key For Frederick Douglass’s Freedom

Frederick Douglass differed from Benjamin Franklin by being born free. Both men are united by the fact they started from nothing and became famous American figures, even today. Franklin developed his reading ability by reading numerous books. Douglass didn’t have any prior learning abilities and he was only able to learn to read because his masters wife gave him food for hungry children. There are many similarities between the two stories, but also differences. They both have to pay someone back by working.

Frederick Douglass had to be a slave to his master. Benjamin Franklin, however, was forced to serve both his father and his older brother. Benjamin Franklin, despite not having been born into a family that was extremely poor, still wanted to improve his life. He did not want to be a priest or work in his dad’s candle-making business. Frederick Douglass did not like his life as a slave and wanted to be released from the masters’ bonds. Douglass understood that learning how to read would ensure his future, even though slaves in the 19th Century were prohibited from doing so. Douglass took every opportunity to learn to read and to write in secret. To do this, he had to be prepared to face brutal punishments and to attempt an escape.

Frederick Douglass as well as Benjamin Franklin understood that education was essential to their American Dream. Both men were forced to learn by themselves without a degree from college. Douglass learned to feel the pain of being hungry in bed as a child. Douglass also experienced what it felt like to fear punishment and be without the love of his mother. Slave mothers were not able, during the 19th Century, to comfort or love their sick children. As an example, slaves sold their children to other slaveholders. Unfortunately, the mothers were powerless to stop this. In the past, slaves were treated as property by their masters. The masters and overseers were free to do whatever they liked to their slaves, with no one stopping them. In order to show the other slaves what to expect, if the slave failed to perform the assigned task on time, they were often severely punished. Lack of clothing meant that slaves often suffered from the cold. Plantation masters expected each slave to complete all tasks without delay, or face severe punishment. Plantation owners did not respect male or female slaves and forced many of them to engage in sexual activity. These encounters often result in the birth of bi-racial babies that are sold off as property. “His mother is Harriet Bailey. His father is a black man whose name has yet to be revealed. It’s generally assumed that his father, Aaron Anthony, was the owner of Harriet Bailey”.

Frederick Douglas’ way of looking at his life changed after Mrs. Auld began teaching him certain alphabetic letters. It was illegal to educate slaves in the 18th century. Mr. Auld’s wife had a different view. He also rebuked her, telling her that it was illegal and unwise to teach a slave to learn to read. If you taught a nigger how to read, he would not be able to keep him. They knew if they taught their slaves to read or write, it would lead them to rebel against their masters. The slaves would have to leave the field or the household if they rebelled.

Frederick Douglass was left wanting to learn more after his brief education, as he knew that learning would be the key to freedom. So, he started to wonder what it would be to be a man who was not a slave. After learning to read, he saw slavery from a new perspective. He began plotting his escape. He was able to escape slavery on his second attempt. He delivered numerous lectures and talks on the brutality of slavery. He also wrote about his former life as an slave and his new life as a man.


  • sofiamiller

    I am Sofia Miller, a 21-year-old blogger and student. I love writing, and I'm passionate about education and learning. I blog about a variety of educational topics, from student life to university admissions. I also write about parenting and lifestyle topics.

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