Three Abolitionists Essay, Research Paper
Olaudh Equiano, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglas have all been described as abolitionists. Equiano is the eldest of the three and his writings were a model for slave narratives. Douglas is very similar to Equianoe in a way that they are both descriptive. Lincoln is different because he is the only caucasian one out of the three.
Equiano was sold for slavery out of Nigeria at the age of twelve. His sister was also taken at the same time. Equiano’s name was changed as he went through American masters. One name that he was given was Gustavus Vassa. He later used this name in the title of his book: “Equiano’s Travels: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavas Vassa the African.” In this book he tells of the terrible ordeals that he endures while he is on the slave ship. In one of his lines he states that, “. . .one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across, I think, the winlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely.” (pg. 216) He also tells of when three men jumped overboard to try and drown themselves, how the crew of the ship went after them: “. . .and there was such a noise and confusion amongst the people of the ship as I never heard before, to stop her, and get the boat out to go after the slaves. However, two of the wretches were drowned, but they got the other, and afterwards flogged him unmercifully for thus attempting to prefer death to slavery.” (pg. 218) He later goes on to describe how he saved enough money to purchase his freedom from his master. After he succeeded in doing this, he became a strong abolitionist. Whenever the chance arose, Equiano took a strong stand in abolishing slavery.
Like Equiano, Frederick Douglas was also black and he was very decscriptive in his writings. He tells of how he was brutally beaten by Mr. Covey: “I had been at my new home but one week before Mr. Covey gave me a severe whipping, cutting my back, causing the blood to run, and raising ridges on my flesh as large as my little finger.” (pg.839) Douglas could not understand why he was treated with such disrespect just because of his color. Unlike Equiano, Douglas was born in America, but like Equiano, Douglas wanted to end slavery. He thought that every man should be treated equally. He portrays this thought in a discussion that he has with a young white boy. He tells the young boy, “You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?” (pg. 837)
Unlike Equiano or Douglas, Lincoln was never a slave, he was white, and he had the opportunity to get a school education. Equiano and Douglas picked up bits and pieces of education as they went along. Lincoln was also in the Abolitionist Movement but for different reasons than Equiano or Douglas. He was in it to save the Union. This is clearly evident in his letter to Horace Greeley. Here is an excerpt from the letter: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I beleive it helps to save the Union;.” (pg. 809) This clearly shows that Lincoln was only in it for one thing.
In conclusion, all three writers helped the abolitionist movement along, but all come from totally different backgrounds. Equiano was from Africa, Douglas was born in America to a black mother and white father, and Lincoln was a white man who used slavery to help save the Union. Even though they were all doing it for different reasons, they were all striving toward the same goal: The Abolishment of Slavery.