Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Visions of America Theme
The American constitution was amended after the Civil War, but in the original version, not only was slavery legal, but a slave was counted as precisely three-fifths of a person. So Frederick Douglass puts a lot of time and energy into arguing that slaves are Americans too. In fact, when he mentions American hero Patrick Henry, he's even making the case that the slaves who fight for their freedom are at least as American as founding fathers like Henry, since they're just as willing to die for their freedom as he was.
Questions About Visions of America
- Why do both Douglass and Garrison mention Patrick Henry?
- Does Douglass think America is "The Land of the Free"?
- During Douglass's time, the American government considered slaves to be three-fifths of a person. So how does Douglass make the argument that slaves should be considered Americans?
- Is the South part of America during Douglass's time? Does Douglass think it is?
Chew on This
By comparing escaped slaves to Patrick Henry, Douglass suggests that slaves fighting for their freedom are the true patriots.
Since Douglass believes that a slaveholding nation cannot truly live up to the ideals of the Constitution, he believes that the South is unfaithful to the American spirit.