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Frederick Douglas - Essay Example

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Summary
Although he wore many hats, Frederick Douglass was an agent for change. In two of his most prolific essays, "Reconstruction" (1866), and "An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage" (1867), it is clear that Douglass intended to fight for the equality of all men.
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Frederick Douglas

Download file to see previous pages... Largely, he did this through public speaking engagements and his writing. The first thing he published was the autobiographical Narrative of the Life of an American Slave in 1845. After which, he served as publisher of a newspaper, The North Star, before publishing his second novel, My Bondage and My Freedom, a decade later. While those works (which will be discussed later) were about his life, he later became a political activist in his pursuit to help people less advantaged than he.
Surrounding the time that "Reconstruction" and "Appeal" were written, there was a lot of political activity, including the aforementioned Abolitionist Movement, which lasted from sometime in the 1830s, until about 1870. This movement should not be confused with the abolitionist movement started by feminists who wanted to end prostitution (arguing that prostitution was also a form of slavery). Instead, the Abolitionist Movement was fundamental in founding the Anti-Slave Society, which aimed at declaring that those enslaved should immediately become free.
The Abolitionist Movement saw the end of slavery, but participants didn't consider its job complete. Once black people were free, they advocated for better education for them, so that men especially would get better jobs. If they could work, they'd be better able to support their families. The movement insisted on healthcare for freed slaves. It also offered assistance in helping family member locate other family members from whom they'd been separated during slavery.
When the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed African-American male suffrage, the Movement proper was over. In 1865, Congress had established the Freedman's Bureau. It helped with the tasks of education, healthcare, and jobs, and even the reunification of families. The Freedman's Bureau was especially helpful to refugees of the American Civil War. African-American women took up causes that affected black women at the time, and later, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed to aid all colored persons.
All of this helped make Douglass the writer he became. When he wrote "Reconstruction," the Civil War had ended and the country was in a reconstructive state. The "Reconstruction" argument was that although the war had ended, there were still changes to be made. He wrote, "All that is necessary to be done is to make the government consistent with itself, and render the rights of the States compatible with the sacred rights of human nature" (para. 3). He was insisting that the government take a stand within each state, and remain consistent in supporting the rights of all people. He asked that citizens of the United States be able to move, interchangeably, throughout the states and have the same rights in each one. He finished his essay with the opinion that he was not the only person, nor were there only black people, who wanted equality for everyone. He wrote, "This great measure is sought as earnestly by loyal white men as by loyal blacks, and is needed alike by both. Let sound political prescience but take the place of an unreasoning prejudice, and this will be done" (para. 10).
In "An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage," Douglass' message was just as political, just as strong. His main focus was on the right to vote for African Americans. He asked Congress how they could have ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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