History of African Americans as presented by Frederick Douglass


An Incisive look into the History of African Americans as presented by Frederick Douglass

 The following annotated bibliography serves the purpose of exploring the history of the African Americans set upon the interpretations of Frederick Douglass’s life as expressed in his autobiography Narrative of the life Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. The paper focuses on the various incidents in the autobiography that is expressive of the challenges the African Americans went through especially during slavery. Moreover, the life of Frederick is representative of the history of the African Americans in a variety of aspects especially in highlighting the struggles they had to endure for them to overcome their plight as slaves and their drive for the abolitionist movement. Frederick’s highlights these through his detailed and well-crafted experience in the hands of slave owners and they tell of the white brutality towards the blacks and how slavery reduced the intellectual capacity of both the slave and the slave master. Using Frederick’s narrative as the background of the paper, the paper explores other aspects of the slavery and its impact socioeconomically and mentally on the slaves and slave owners.

Andrews, William L. Slave Narratives. New York, N.Y.: Literary Classics of the U.S., 2000. Print.

            Slavery reduced both the slave owners and the slaves to lower intellectual levels. The power exerted on the slaves by slave owners during slavery corrupted their normal character and; thus, their actions were savagery and beastlike especially towards the female slaves. The slave owners did neither care about the consequences of their actions nor the feeling of the African American slaves whenever they used their corrupt power to satisfy their needs. As (Andrews 22) narrates, the slave owners raped the women and even sired children with them who they later disowned. The author uses his example when he was thought to be the son of Captain Anthony, his first master. On the other hand, slavery also reduced the intellectual capacity of the slaves because they always felt that they were not good enough. His encounter unleashes political debate on countries that have legalized slave trade leading to the effects of the civil wars over anti-slavery issues. He was among the few freed slaves and his narrative portrays differences between a slave man and a free man and the following relationship between a slave and the lord or master.

Northup, Solomon, and Henry Louis Gates. Twelve Years a Slave. New York, NY: Penguin, 2013. Print.

           Twelve years, a slave, is a narrative if Northup’s, a citizen of New York having been kidnapped in Washington City and later rescued in 1853.He had been serving in a cotton and sugar plantations in Red River Louisiana. It explores features of the slave narrative with other forms on literature writings been incorporated such as captivity narrative of a slave in the New York. Northup’s was born as free black man in New York he writes a narrative on his kidnapping in Washington city and the subsequent sale into slave. With enough conviction, he decided to risk himself and wrote a letter after twelve years of bondage requesting them to come over and help him be set free. His narrative significantly brings some facts to limelight such as the extensive of the cotton and sugar plantations in Washington and the rampant slavery markets in Louisiana. (Northup, Eakin and Logsdon 1956)

Northup a free Negro was initially a skilled carpenter and a violist. He was approached by strangers while at work which offered him a brief on a decent job opportunity as a musician along with their travelling circus. Hopefully, he decided to accompany the strangers to Washington without informing his family members who were away at work. Upon arrival, he found himself dragged and bound into a cell of a slaves. He raised his voice claiming his rights on freedom but his pleas were objected. He was brutally asserted his rights of a free man, beaten up and instructed to shut down over the rights and freedom. He was shipped with other black slaves during their transportation one slave died of smallpox. On their way, he had an encounter sympathetic sailor who agreed to take home a letter to his relatives asking them to make efforts of finding him and rescuing him. Northup’s family was totally unable to rescue him since the letter did not mention his final destination which remained unknown to Northup too.

On arrival, he was owned by William Prince Lord who operated a mill later he had other subsequent owners who were less humane than the lord. His carpentry skill helped him in making work easy sometimes this contributed to being treated relatively well. He suffered cruelty and in two scenes he was harassed by a white man from whom he was leased to bad suffered severe reprisals. Later during his salvage he was assigned different roles from cotton assistants to a driver and was promoted to be overseer over other slaves by punishing undesirable behavior. The narrative of Northup the brutality slave’s encounters from their inhumane lords and the plight of captives. This narrative points out sentimental fiction and a legal system that prevents kind owners from treating their slaves well emphasizing on cruel treatment and liabilities

 Fogel & Engerman. (1974). Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

            The efficiency and the effectiveness of slaves have always been questioned especially with regards to their input on the farms. The output of the slaves in the South and the free labourers in the North were measured to ascertain whether it was valuable to have slaves or free labourers. They estimated that slaves were 35% more productive than the free labourers regarding total factor productivity. Thus, from the figures of the result, it suffices to state that slaves were more efficient than free labourers regarding their output when working on farms. It is also pertinent to note that the slaves worked under the gang systems where a group of slaves were responsible for a particular task and in the event one of the slaves did not perform as expected they received punishment from the cruel overseers. Consequently, it is not pragmatic to ignore the consequences that the slaves faced when they underperformed as compared to the free labourers who underperformed.

Hamilton, Virginia, and Leo Dillon. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. New York: Knopf :, 2005. Print.

           Hamilton and Virginia tells a tale of a small group of Africans who has wings and could fly. Their wings are compared to radioactive eagle in a wild desert. The peope were forced to shed their wings upon their capture into slavery.  Due to bad exposure and experiences they got as slaves these groups of people often forgot that they had their wings that had enabled them to fly.  Due to lack of freedom the people are forced to work on huge plantations in the American South. The authors introduces two such latent-superheroes named Toby and a young mother, Sarah. The master is the overall boss of the plantation while drivers are overseers of slaves such as Sarah who works hard even when her baby is tied at her back. Her baby starts giggling and crying but no one notices her pain.

When Sarah is exhausted to quite her baby the driver who is the overseer takes a whip and starts to silence the baby harshly and afterwards he whips the mother Sarah. The slaves’ longs for the day when they will get back their freedom inform of wings to enable them to fly away from the inhuman treatment as American slaves.

Sale, M., M. (1997). The Slumbering Volcano: American Slave Ship Revolts and the Production of Rebellious Masculinity. Duke University Press. p. 45.

            Most people who advocated for freedom of African Americans in the North asked for the ‘draining’ of the freedmen back to Africa. They argued that most `of these African Americans could not cope with the harsh conditions they would be exposed to despite their freedom. During the industrial revolution, most African Americans were freed especially in the North so that they could willingly work for the others in the industries that were built at that time and earn a living while at it. Moreover, the white Americans were not yet ready to enjoy the same rights as the African Americans at that time because they felt that they were not of the same social class as them and, thus, were not eligible for the treatment they received. Consequently, the call for the transportation of the newly freed slaves back to Africa, because they could easily amalgamate with the other Africans was just and pragmatic in the eyes of the freed whites and the former slave owners.

Meltzer, Milton. In Their Own Words: A History of the American Negro. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1964. Print.

           Thomas the protagonist character fluctuates regarding strength throughout the narrative. (Meltzer 45) highlights his younger self in two contrasting views to readers. One in which the young character represents an intriguing, unique cases and in some instances he represents his younger self as a typical African American slave. In his typical African American slave nature, (Meltzer 56) substantially highlights the dehumanizing aspects of slavery especially in scenes that he merely exists as a witness to events that feature other characters. Furthermore, it suffices to note that as a typical African American slave, the Negros individual character traits are less important as compared to the similarities of his predicament to other African American slaves. Consequently, his character as a witness gave readers a view of the reality of slavery through his eyes and given them an opportunity to relate to the African-American suffering during slavery with an interest in the dehumanizing activities that they went through such as whipping, rape and so on.

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. New York: International, 1963. Print.

Aptheker, offers pioneer insights that demolished the widespread claims that African Americans had grown beyond to accept slavery as a passive aspect of life. He goes ahead to expose the true nature of slavery in North America. He expresses Africans discontentment with the slavery business that was being carried out by the inhuman masters at the cost of the poor people. He organized several revolts that offered the slaves a platform to share their needs and fight for their freedoms since they were tired of being submissive to their masters under unbearable situations.

Works Cited

Andrews, William L. Slave Narratives. New York, N.Y.: Literary Classics of the U.S., 2000. Print.

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. New York: International, 1963. Print.

Bloom, Harold. Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Print.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Newburyport: Diversion, 2015. Print.

Hamilton, Virginia, and Leo Dillon. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. New York: Knopf : 2005. Print.

Meltzer, Milton. In Their Own Words: A History of the American Negro. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1964. Print.

Northup, Solomon, and Henry Louis Gates. Twelve Years a Slave. New York, NY: Penguin, 2013. Print.