What was life like for women in the first half of the 19th century in America? What influence did women have in shaping the attitudes towards slavery? Towards women's suffrage?
One myth that Southern slave owners and proponents were happy to perpetuate was that of the slave happily singing from dawn to dusk as he worked in the fields, prepared meals in the kitchen, or maintained the upkeep of the plantation.
Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was a former slave who became the greatest abolitionist orator of the antebellum period. During the Civil War he worked tirelessly for the emancipation of the four million enslaved African Americans. In the decades after the war, he was the most influential African American leader in the nation.
He delivered this speech on July 5, 1852. It is generally considered his greatest and one of the greatest speeches of the 19th century. Before you read the speech you can follow these links to learn more about Douglass’s life and the evolution of his thought in this period.