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Bondage and Freedom is not a mere updating of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass of ; rather, it is an extensive revision of that one great tale Douglass believed he must tell—the story of himself. A quite different person—a much more mature, politicized writer—crafted Bondage and Freedom, as opposed to the twenty-seven-year-old orator of who needed to establish his identity through literacy.

Her labors in the printing office in order to free his time to write certainly testify to her support, if not also her editorial hand in helping make the book possible. The sales were spectacular—five thousand copies in the first two days and fifteen thousand within three months. Bondage and Freedom achieved what Douglass most wanted: readers and public impact. He could feel buttressed in his belief that words could shape and correct history.

But he wrote the book for many reasons. Moreover, Douglass argued, he wrote for the same reason he founded his own newspaper. The humanity of his people must be demonstrated before a racist world.

Medical bondage : race, gender, and the origins of American gynecology in SearchWorks catalog

Such a claim for the public duty of writing a second autobiography reflects just how much this new literary self-creation was a political act. Douglass further felt compelled to write Bondage and Freedom because he had so much to say about the transformations, losses, and gains of his life since the summer he boarded a ship for England. He had many tales to tell about his flowering in the British Isles and about the independence he had sought since returning to America.

Douglass was now truly a black leader, a widely acknowledged proponent of the self-reliance and elevation of blacks and their communities. In , Douglass fully emerged as the black Jeremiah. A star student at the African Free School no.

Eighteenth-Century Studies

With financial help from New York City black friends, Smith journeyed to Glasgow, Scotland, at age nineteen, where between and he achieved the B. Upon his return to New York, Smith opened a medical practice and a pharmacy in lower Manhattan in the year Douglass escaped through the city as a fugitive. In his spare time, Smith launched his remarkable career as an abolitionist, a polymath writer, and an intellectual. He wrote on all manner of subjects, from abolitionist strategies to moral philosophy, from natural sciences to ethnology and chess, from American and world history to literature.

Douglass could learn so much from Smith, who became a kind of older brother for the former field hand and caulker.


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Steeped in the classics and the Romantics, Smith found in the younger former runaway a special kind of hero. The two shared a worldview and abolitionist strategies. They had combined their mutual prestige in trying to persuade the black convention movement to adopt a plan for an industrial school for young blacks and a National Council of leadership in Lack of funding and the perennial internecine ideological warfare among black leaders doomed most of their educational and institutional endeavors.

African American Slavery and Bondage

Nevertheless, Douglass and Smith became frequent collaborators. In addition to his masterful essays, Smith became an experimental writer, with works often appearing under the pseudonym Communipaw, a name he took intriguingly from a legendary colonial Indian settlement in what became Jersey City, New Jersey, a place where an interracial community of blacks, Indians, and Dutch settlers had resisted the English crown.

These pieces were depictions of working-class black New Yorkers, giving dignity to the bootblack, washerwoman, whitewasher, steward, sexton, schoolmaster, and others.

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Douglass seemed to keep his shirts more starched than the good doctor, but such disagreements about class and race only enriched, rather than harmed, the relationship between these two intellectuals. Smith and Douglass constantly sought out each other about writing and shared a mutual respect for a life of the mind for black men. They shared a brotherhood of experiences of racism, outside and inside the antislavery movement. You will be surprised to hear me say that only since his Editorial career has he begun to become a colored man!

I have read his paper very carefully and find phrase after phrase develop itself as regularly as in one newly born among us.

Her readings of canonical authors are provocative and controversial, but grounded well enough to enliven conversations about these writers and their times. University of Illinois Press. Shopping Cart. See all Subjects. Table of Contents. Close Preview x.

Courage and Christopher Robert Reed. University of Illinois.


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