How Douglass Would Have Responded to Fitzhugh’s Claims
George Fitzhugh, a controversial social theorist, made various claimsand discoveries about the state of slaves in the United States. He isfamous for his reference to captives as grown up children whorequired protection through slavery. It is not a surprise, therefore,how he reports on the condition of the slaves in the southern states.According to him, slaves in the south were the happiest. Theirchildren did not work on the plantations, and they had all thenecessities, courtesy of their masters (Fitzhugh357). In addition, they were entitled to a modest labor ofnine hours every day. According to during the Sabbath, they had theliberty to gather and worship, and they were entitled to publicholidays (Fitzhugh 357). However, theyerred in sleeping too much while their masters were busy devisingplans for accumulating wealth.
Fredric Douglass would have found Fitzhugh’s claims hilarious andillusionary since the condition of slaves in the southern states wasnot honey coated with the accolades that Fitzhugh inscribes. Fitzhughdescribes that children in the south could not work in theplantations, and so, the workers were privileged (Fitzhugh357). Douglass would have taken Fitzhugh through the pain ofseparation that children had to endure. According to Douglass,mothers would be separated from their children at the age 12 monthsnever to see each other again (14). It explains why young childrenwere under the care of old women who were too frail to work. Besides,he would question Fitzhugh’s idea of an ideal childhood. Accordingto Douglass, it was more than staying at home with a stranger(Douglass 14). Douglass explains traumatic occasions that he wasexposed to. Slaves could be whipped in front of their children toinstill fear and emphasize authority. The early exposure to violenceand intimidation is a sharp incongruity with what Fitzhugh purported.
Douglas would also find it outrageous for Fitzhugh to blame theslaves for sleeping whenever they had a chance. Douglass indicatesthat the slaves were not allowed to have beds in the plantations(12). They only had pieces of rough blankets that were ironicallymeant to provide them comfort after a hard day’s work. Fitzhughbeing a white had access to a comfortable bed, and he could notunderstand why the salves would take every available opportunity torest. Besides, contrary to the claim by Fitzhugh the masters in thesouth provided slaves with all the necessities, Douglass points outthat the slave owners provided small meals rations once every month(18). They also received clothing once a year. Children who did notget clothes had to walk naked for a whole year awaiting the nextdispensation.
In conclusion, the two authors outline the lives of the southernslaves from two rebutting positions. The happiness that Fitzhughdescribes as predominant among the southern slaves is preposterouswhen viewed from Douglass’ point of view. Although the children didnot work in the plantations, they were not under the care of theirbiological mothers. They were also exposed to violence andintimidations. The families also lacked enough necessities as opposedFitzhugh claim that they had everything they needed. In addition, theworkers received rations once a month and clothes once a year. To thewhites, the slaves’ life was modest. Douglass’ narration as acaptive demonstrates that the slaves were not content with theirlifestyle. He would have, therefore, refuted the claims made byFitzhugh, and regard them as incorrect.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrativeof the life of Fredrick Douglass.California: Xist Publishing, 2015. Print.
Fitzhugh, George. "The Blessings of Slavery."Cannibals all(1857). Print.