Autobiographies

Front Cover
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the only authoritative edition of all three autobiographies by the escaped slave who became a great American leader.

Here in this Library of America volume are collected Frederick Douglass's three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature. Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly effective spokesman for the abolition of slavery and equal rights, Douglass shapes an inspiring vision of self-realization in the face of monumental odds.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), published seven years after his escape, was written in part as a response to skeptics who refused to believe that so articulate an orator could ever have been a slave. A powerfully compressed account of the cruelty and oppression of the Maryland plantation culture into which Douglass was born, it brought him to the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and drew thousands, black and white, to the cause.

In My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), Douglass expands the account of his slave years. With astonishing psychological penetration, he probes the painful ambiguities and subtly corrosive effects of black-white relations under slavery, and recounts his determined resistance to segregation in the North. The book also incorporates extracts from Douglass's speeches, including the searing "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?"

Life and Times, first published in 1881, records Douglass's efforts to keep alive the struggle for racial equality udirng Reconstruction. John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe all feature prominently in this chronicle of a crucial epoch in American history. The revised edition of 1893, presented here, includes an account of his controversial diplomatic mission to Haiti.

This volume contains a detailed chronology of Douglass's life, notes providing further background on the events and people mentioned, and an account of the textual history of each of the autobiographies.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
 

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User Review  - lanewillson - LibraryThing

I knew of Fredrick Douglass as a historical figure, which is to say, I really knew virtually nothing abut the man. Daughter Hannah gave me Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln for ... Read full review

Autobiographies

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Douglass (1818-95), a former slave, rose to become an abolitionist, writer, and orator. In this collection of his autobiographical writings, edited by Gates (humanities, Harvard Univ.), he gives an ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
125
CHAPTER I
139
CHAPTER II
146
GRADUAL INITIATION INTO THE MYSTERIES OF SLAVERY
171
CHAPTER VI
178
The Singing of the Slaves no Proof of Contentment
184
Beams of Sunlight
206
Kindness of my new MistressLittle Tommy
212
Passes EatenThe Examination at St Michaels
322
Return to BaltimoreChange in Little Tommy
328
Author a Wanderer in New YorkFeelings on Reaching
349
Contrast between the North and the South
355
First Acquaintance with the Liberator
362
Becomes a Public Lecturer
364
CHAPTER XXIV
370
Time and Labors Abroad
376

Increased Determination to Learn
218
pursued my EducationMy Tutors
221
Knowledge ever IncreasingMy Eyes Opened
227
New Hopes and Aspirations
233
Return to BaltimoreDeath of Mistress Lucretia 24O
236
Sad Prospects and Grief
239
CHAPTER XIV
244
No more Meal brought from the MillMethodist
252
Escape to St MichaelsSuffering in the Woods
273
An AlarmA Friend not an Enemy
279
Coveys Ineffectual Commands for Assistance
285
A Device of Slavery
288
The Reverend Rigby Hopkins 2 94
295
Conflict of Hopes and FearsIgnorance of Geography
303
Causes Contributing to my Success
382
Dr Cunninghams SpeechA Striking Incident
384
EXTRACTS FROM SPEECHES
399
Letter to his Old Master 412
412
The Nature of Slavery 419
419
Inhumanity of Slavery 4 25
425
Affectionate Relations of Master and Pupils
459
AUTHORs BIRTH
475
CHAPTER III
482
CHAPTER XIX
498
THE RUNAWAY PLOT
603
NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICKDOUGLASS
1078
Notes Io3
1109
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Frederick Douglass, an outspoken abolitionist, was born into slavery in 1818 and, after his escape in 1838, repeatedly risked his own freedom as an antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher.


Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Africana Studies at Cornell University, and also tenured at Yale, Duke, and Harvard, where he was appointed W.E.B. DuBois professor of humanities in 1991. Professor Gates is the author of Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self, Wonders of the African World, The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, Loose Cannons: Notes on the Culture Wars, and Colored People: A Memoir. With Cornel West, he co-wrote The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country andThe Future of the Race. He is also the editor of the critically-acclaimed edition of Our Nig, an annotated reprint of Harriet E. Wilson's 1859 novel,The Slave's Narrative (with the late Charles T. Davis), Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience, Six Women's Slave Narratives, andIn the House of Oshugbo: Critical Essays on Wole Soyinka. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Prize.