Understanding Equality in the 1800s - Analyzing equality through "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass".

Essay by wretched85University, Bachelor'sA-, September 2009

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It was once written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words are very simplistic and nonspecific, which is a reason why they are interpreted differently by various people. The part of this document that I wish to focus on for this paper is equality. Many have disagreed over the message being sent. For example, who is included in the phrase, all men are created equal? What does this equality entail? Are both genders meant to be treated equally? There are so many ideas that we can introduce on this subject. After reading the works by Stowe and Douglass, I had a much better understanding to what equality meant to some people during the 1800s.

Slaves wanted an equality where they would be viewed the same as any other person, regardless of color. They wanted the right to vote, participate in government, live life freely without being under a Masters eye, basic principles that white men called their inalienable rights.

Harriet Beecher Stowe presented her views through the story Uncle Tom‘s Cabin. A tale that begins among the relatively happy lives of Kentucky slaves andfinishes in the midst of death and freedom, Stowe vividly gives explanations of the thoughts and actions of various personalities in the 1800s. We heard stories fromthose who did not believe African Americans deserved the same rights as what white people received. We also heard counterpoints from those who believed blacks did deserve equality. There was much discussion as to the naturally inferior qualities that supposedly represented the black race. In 1854, George Fitzhugh wrote that the African...