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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Book genre:
Autobiography, slave narrative
First Published:
January 1, 1845
Original language:

What's the book "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" about?

"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" is an autobiographical account written by Frederick Douglass, an African American abolitionist, orator, and former slave. The book, first published in 1845, chronicles Douglass's journey from slavery to freedom and provides a powerful firsthand narrative of the brutalities and injustices of slavery in the United States.

In the narrative, Douglass recounts his experiences growing up as a slave on Maryland plantations, his struggles to learn to read and write despite being forbidden to do so by his masters, and his eventual escape to the North. He vividly describes the physical and psychological abuses suffered by slaves, as well as the dehumanizing effects of slavery on both enslaved individuals and slaveholders.

Through his eloquent prose and compelling storytelling, Douglass exposes the hypocrisy of American democracy, which espoused principles of freedom and equality while perpetuating the institution of slavery. His narrative also serves as a powerful indictment of the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery, and as a call to action for its abolition.

"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" is not only a valuable historical document but also a timeless work of literature that continues to inspire readers with its message of resilience, courage, and the enduring quest for freedom and justice.

Listen to an excerpt from the book "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass"

I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot county, Maryland. I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant. I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday. They seldom come nearer to it than planting-time, harvest-time, cherry-time, spring-time, or fall-time. A want of information concerning my own was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood. The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege. I was not allowed to make any inquiries of my master concerning it. He deemed all such inquiries on the part of a slave improper and impertinent, and evidence of a restless spirit. The nearest estimate I can give makes me now between twenty-seven and twenty-eight years of age. I come to this, from hearing my master say, some time during 1835, I was about seventeen years old.

My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this book available for free?

Yes, this book is in the public domain and can be accessed without any restrictions or royalties. The copyright term has expired. In most countries, copyrights last for the life of the author plus 70 years. Therefore, books published before the date of 1924 are generally in the public domain in the US if the copyright was not renewed.

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You can download this book for free, for example, on the Gutenberg Project website. This version is available to download and read in various ebook formats, including PDF, epub, TXT and others.

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