Frederick Douglass and the promotion of freedom for all american slaves
Both passages relate to the career of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Passage 1 comes from the introduction to a collection of his short prose. Passage 2 is excerpted from Douglass’s letter to his former master, written while Douglass was in England.


To elude slave catchers, the fugitive slave Frederick Baily changed his name, becoming Frederick Douglass, abolitionist spokesman and author. When he published his autobiography, however, Douglass exposed himself to recapture: federal laws gave Douglass’s ex-master the right to seize his property. Douglass traveled to Britain, where slavery was illegal; there he worked to gain support for America’s anti-slavery movement. After two years, British friends unexpectedly bought his freedom, allowing him to return home to continue the fight. Some abolitionists criticized Douglass, however, saying that by letting his freedom be bought he acknowledged his master’s right to own him.


I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you…. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living…. I therefore see no wrong in any part of the transaction. It is true, I went off secretly; but that was more your fault than mine. Had I let you into the secret, you would have defeated the enterprise entirely; but for this, I should have been really glad to have made you acquainted with my intentions to leave.