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Frederick Douglass

The life and times of Frederick Douglass have been chronicled by Douglass himself in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Douglass’ life was a rich one, filled with many experiences and endeavors, from being born a slave to his rise in prominence as a lecturer, champion of black rights, and various political positions. In fact, one of Douglass’ most popular and most frequently delivered lecture was entitled “Self-Made Men,” who the former slave described as “men who, without the ordinary helps of favoring circumstances, have attained knowledge, usefulness, power, position, and fame in the world. The are the men who owe nothing to birth, relationship, family surroundings, wealth inherited, or to early and approved means of education” (Quarles viii). However, in Benjamin Quarles’ book, Frederick Douglass, we get a broad portrait of the man who rose from slave to prominent man of position, power and wealth.

Quarles’ book gives a critical review of Douglass’ life as a slave, basically because it has been well-covered in literature and Douglass’ own account stands as the definitive version of his years in slavery. Quarles’ depiction of this era in his life is well written and provides a general overview of those years through the commentary and opinions of others. In the rest of the book, Quarles covers the broader issues and depths of the man who was Fredrick Douglass. A significant portion of the book is devoted to Douglass’ time overseas, one during which he helped extend support for black rights in America on an international level. In Europe, Douglass was given a warm reception and the popular perception of blacks in the United Kingdom was much different than the one he had often encountered in the U.S. Europe had made many concessions toward eliminating slavery in the British Isles, however, as Quarles points out, American sentiment was not much moved or impressed to c...

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Frederick Douglass. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:44, May 21, 2019, from