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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

PREFACE

In the month of August, 1841, I attended an anti-
slavery convention in Nantucket, at which it was
my happiness to become acquainted with FREDERICK
DOUGLASS, the writer of the following Narrative. He
was a stranger to nearly every member of that body;
but, having recently made his escape from the south-
ern prison-house of bondage, and feeling his curiosity
excited to ascertain the principles and measures of
the abolitionists,--of whom he had heard a somewhat
vague description while he was a slave,--he was in-
duced to give his attendance, on the occasion al-
luded to, though at that time a resident in New
Bedford.

Fortunate, most fortunate occurrence!--fortunate
for the millions of his manacled brethren, yet pant-
ing for deliverance from their awful thraldom!--for-
tunate for the cause of negro emancipation, and of
universal liberty!--fortunate for the land of his birth,
which he has already done so much to save and bless!
--fortunate for a large circle of friends and acquaint-
ances, whose sympathy and affection he has strongly
secured by the many sufferings he has endured, by
his virtuous traits of character, by his ever-abiding
remembrance of those who are in bonds, as being
bound with them!--fortunate for the multitudes, in
various parts of our republic, whose minds he has
enlightened on the subject of slavery, and who have
been melted to tears by his pathos, or roused to
virtuous indignation by his stirring eloquence against
the enslavers of men!--fortunate for himself, as
it at once brought him into the field of public use-
fulness, "gave the world assurance of a MAN," quick-
ened the slumbering energies of his soul, and con-
secrated him to the great work of breaking the rod
of the oppressor, and letting the oppressed go free!

I shall never forget his first speech at the conven-
tion--the extraordinary emotion it excited in my own
mind--the powerful impression it created upon a
crowded auditory, completely taken by surprise--the
applause which followed from the beginning to the
end of his felicitous remarks. I think I never hated
slavery so intensely as at that moment; certainly, my
perception of the enormous outrage which is in-
flicted by it, on the godlike nature of its victims, was
rendered far more clear than ever. There stood one,
in physical proportion and stature commanding and
exact--in intellect richly endowed--in natural elo-
quence a prodigy--in soul manifestly "created but a
little lower than the angels"--yet a slave, ay, a fugi-
tive slave,--trembling for his safety, hardly daring to
believe that on the American soil, a single white
person could be found who would befriend him at
all hazards, for the love of God and humanity! Ca-
pable of high attainments as an intellectual and
moral being--needing nothing but a comparatively
small amount of cultivation to make him an orna-
ment to society and a blessing to his race--by the law
of the land, by the voice of the people, by the terms
of the slave code, he was only a piece of property, a
beast of burden, a chattel personal, nevertheless!

A beloved friend from New Bedford prevailed on
Mr. DOUGLASS to address the convention: He came
forward to the platform with a hesitancy and embar-
rassment, necessarily the attendants of a sensitive
mind in such a novel position. After apologizing for
his ignorance, and reminding the audience that slav-
ery was a poor school for the human intellect and


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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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