“…I felt like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions,” writes Douglass about how his life was when he was a slave (Douglass 106). When I read great stories of people who have struggled and fought for their freedom, I look at my own life and see how much passion I have for freedom. We all experience fundamental obstacles in our life, but there is a moment when something occurs and accelerates this passion for freedom. That moment happened to Frederick Douglass before his escape from slavery.
Frederick Augustos Washington Bailey was born in 1818 in slavery. Seven years later, his father dies leading him to live with another family in Baltimore as family servant and errand boy. On September 3, 1838, he manages to escape with financial assistance from his fiancé, Anna Murray, a free black woman from Baltimore. He arrives in New York the next day and nearly two weeks later, he marries Anna Murray and changes his name to Frederick Douglass (adapted from The Oxford Frederick Douglass Reader).
After fleeing slavery, Douglass’ life changed, becoming one of the most renowned abolitionist and influential activists. Hence, it is the freedom that makes us attain our ultimate goals. Although the notion “freedom” is often associated with the idea of breaking from slavery , it does have another essence that goes beyond being treated as a property; it’s freeing our mind from repetitive thoughts and worries. In today’s world, we face a seemingly endless supply of boundaries, difficulties, but we struggle with our power to overcome them. As an employee, student, or even as an independent businessman, we are subject to a “slavery system” under which we are strained. We feel strangled waiting for that moment.
The story behind Douglass’ escape inspires me, but more evidently, the role Anna played in that escape. Can I say that it was love that set Douglass free? Conceivably, yes! It is true that the passion for freedom had been inside Douglass before he met Anna. However, the appearance of Anna in his life made him eager to expedite his plans. In Frederick Douglass: A Biography, James Trotman states, “Meeting Anna, falling in love, and wishing for marriage only accelerated the passion for freedom that was already on fire in Frederick” (28). His plan to escape succeeded because of Anna,” adds Trotman, to show the role Anna played in this escape, and eventually, in his life as a freeman. Only 12 days had elapsed when Douglass married Anna Murray. He wanted to be united with his love very fast and we see how his tone changed in his narrative after his escape with the use of the plural personal pronoun “we”. Now, it is no longer a story of self, but rather, a story of a perfect union. Douglass writes right after his marriage, “ …we set out forthwith…we were so anxious to get a place of safety…we decided to take seats in the stage…” (Douglass109). I am not suggesting that if it were not Anna there, he would not have escaped, but rather I would say that her presence in his life rushed him to break the chains of his slavery.
Douglass, Frederick, and William L. Andrews. The Oxford Frederick Douglass Reader. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. Print.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2009. Print.
Trotman, C. James. Frederick Douglass: A Biography. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011. Print.