Sei sulla pagina 1di 3

Squire 1

Austin Squire
Mrs. Stanford
AP Language & Composition
16 October 2015
The Dehumanization of U.S. Slaves
The process of turning humans into nothing but cattle was happening during the
nineteenth century as a result of U.S. slavery. Many people in todays society say that they have a
rough life, but thats not even on the same level as a slaves life during the nineteenth century.
A rough life is working out in the cotton fields from dawn until dusk, with no breaks, no pay, and
being whipped for slowing down. These slaves are the ones who really had a rough life. Those
who were born into it had it really rough. Those who were born into slavery knew nothing about
themselves. They didnt know who they were, where they came from, and who their family was.
They only thing they did know was to keep their nose on the grindstone, and work hard
everyday. Frederick Douglass was one of those people who was born into slavery, his purpose in
recalling the details of his childhood is to show how U.S. slavery dehumanized the slaves, he
does this by describing how he didnt know his age, how he was separated from his mother, and
he knew more about his heritage than many other slaves.
The U.S. slaves were stripped of their humanistic traits during the nineteenth century.
They felt inferior to the human race, they didnt feel like they were human like their white slave
owners, in the passage Douglass says, The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell
why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege, (Fox 10-11) to support this. The slaves felt
that they were at an unfair advantage in life, because they didnt know their age and yet their
master and their masters children could tell their age, so they felt as if they were at a

Squire 2
disadvantage because of their position in society. In the narrative Douglass says this to
demonstrate how his master approximated his age, The nearest estimate I can give makes me
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. (14-17). This shows that they were treated
like the average person would with their pets, they do not know their pets birthdays, but we
approximate their age.
Frederick Douglass, along with other slaves, were separated from their mothers when
they were only infants. Which broke that mother and son bond, that should be there. This is
because in the passage Douglass states this to explain how he hardly knew his mother to have
that bond with her, I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in
my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night (Fox 35-37). She was
almost like a stranger to him, this quote supports that, Very little communication ever took place
between us.(46-47). Which explains how Douglass reacted when she died. Douglass didnt react
like a normal person would when they are deprived of their mother, Douglass just didnt feel
anything for her, this quote from the passage supports this, I received the tidings of her death
with much of the same emotions I should have probably felt at the of a stranger, (53-54) it was
just like watching the news and seeing that someone died. We usually dont make a big deal out
of it, because we dont know them. Also Douglass wasnt even allowed to be with his mom
during her sickness, death, and burial. He never was given the chance or the choice to know who
his mother was, like many of us do today. Not only did many slaves not know their mothers, but
they didnt even know themselves.
The reason why they did not know themselves is because they didnt know who their
family was and their birthdate. Frederick Douglass knew the most about his heritage than other

Squire 3
slaves, in the narrative he states, 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. My father was a white man (Fox 18-21). He never
knew who his father was, there were some rumors that his master was his father. Many other
slaves didnt know nearly as much about their heritage as Douglass. They also didnt know their
age, they were deprived of that privilege, to support this Douglass states, 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 (2-5). Everyone knows of their
own age, its something every person should know. They knew as much about themselves like
horses know about themselves, like what Douglass said in his narrative. Everybody should know
who they are, its what makes us human, but the slaves were deprived of this humanistic trait.
The U.S. slave owners took away their slaves humanistic traits. They treated them like
they were animals. What kind of person would want to be treated like an animal. Those slave
owners never thought of putting themselves in their slaves shoes, looking at life through their
perspective. Maybe then they could realize what they were doing to them, and how they were
dehumanizing them. They were separated from their mothers, and deprived of the knowledge of
their heritage and age, these are examples of Frederick Douglasss purpose in recalling his
childhood which is to show how the slaves were dehumanized. There is nothing that can justify
an individual or group of depriving peoples humanistic traits away from them.

Works Cited
Fox, Steven. "Lesson 1: What Does the Passage Mean?" Advanced Composition Skills: 20
Lessons for AP Success. Saddle Brook: Peoples Education, 2009. 1-5. Print.