Student: Darinka Markovic Course: Afroamerican Literature Professor: Aleksandra Izgarjan PhD

Northern white man’s response to Narrative of the Life of

Frederick Douglass
Dear Billy, My visit to the National Archives and Records has been somewhat successful. I have found distributable documents which can be of some use to our adventure of drawing the family tree. My intuition tells me that we could be on to something here. Please compare with what we have discovered earlier and let me know what you think! Yours truly, Jean PS As you will notice, unfortunately, paper is damaged at various places and the handwriting is quite indecipherable. Slavery - a plague and curse that moves across our nation, a beast that tears us apart. For a Northern man it is ever harder to reach his brother’s hand and it seems that as our nation grows across the continent, we are farther and farther apart. My dear father though living in the South (Kentucky) for much of his life had never become one of the numerous slaveholders. We were neither poor nor rich. Our little piece of land stationed near the frontier could supply us with much of the goods we needed. Trade was also a means of acquiring other necessities. Moral goods were of much higher importance. Still I can hear my kind grandmother’s voice echoing through my mind “… remember Alfred, my child that we are all equal in the eyes of God.” I have seen slaves before. She was nothing alike. As I have shared with you earlier, I loved strolling down the pathway which is a border between our Baptist church’s and Mr. Cornish’s estate. The


scorching sun was set high on the sky and its heat forced every poor working slave to bend even more in their servitude. I pitied these poor souls and my heart fought against immense sorrow and anger. O but to feel a pity is nothing humane! Fierce and proud look on her face affected my capacity for compassion, mercy, generosity, kindness… My dearest Yanine, I count the hours from now until the day I will have my precious gem next to my heart. You must remember those lessons I have taught you about humble virtues of Christian piety, humility, and forbearance along with your A B C. My family moving to Indiana was the hardest challenge our dear Lord had for us in his divine plan. More than ever, I am now for the abolition of slavery. My old father struggles to make a new beginning here after the slaveholders united in banishing him from his own threshold. So many misfortunes are sided up against me! O if I only could buy your freedom but your master was cunning enough to mark you! as a chattel of his little daughter. At the time being, I passionately study the laws of the free state of Indiana to find solution to our troubles, and if nothing else remains you will escape with me. Kind Reader I do hope that my early associations have found a fertile soil in your heart. I wanted to make bonds that will bind you to the scenes of my infancy and youth. Every day I heard debates on slavery and it was and is my strong belief that it had injurious impact on both whites and blacks. If I was to enter the wholly matrimony for better and for worse, I had to snatch my beloved from the claws of slavery. When I was of younger age there were many confronting ideas that puzzled me, but now having the wisdom of old age I know that past challenges and obstacles had to be put on my life path for a reason. As a part of my interest in abolition of slavery, I travelled to a nearby Pendleton where my attention had been called to the public speech of a certain black man who managed to break from the shackles of slavery. His respectable name was Frederick Douglass. A platform was slightly erected for safety reasons, and many people have already gathered around in quite a number. There was a commotion when our orator stood before us. I turned around - some faces were frowned yet others showed approval and smiled. But sooner rather than later he began to speak, I felt a blow upon the back part of my head. The brutes and racists from the mob started throwing eggs at the speaker and attacking us, the minority of sympathizers. Soon I joined the others in fleeing the scene for the attackers would not spare anyone. ‘O was I but a coward!’ I severely reproached myself while I was catching my breath from all the running. Nevertheless, kind Providence gave me another chance to make amends for my selfish feelings - there was a group of whites molesting one poor black. I was bound to help him. My room was heated and Mrs. Bates came to help me in nursing the injuries of his broken arm. O you sad flightless bird! Fear not, for your wings of freedom are never again to be taken away. My most beloved Yanine,


I hope you have received my previous letter. There I have informed you that state of Mr. Douglass is slowly improving. It can only be an act of good Providence to send this most eloquent and intelligent man to enter my life. Mr. Douglass is a ray of sun that gives hope to those in need, and dear Lord knows I am a desperate soul. His words are unworldly treasure. As an established rule, I did him an honor to say grace at the table. How was I touched by his speech! Freedom must be felt. How am I supposed to feel? How am I supposed to know what is freedom, when I was never deprived of it! My love, I thanked him for letting me see through his eyes, through your eyes. Tears warmed my cheeks as I listened how he, being a slave envied ships for their freedom. His lament moved from a soul’s complaint to an exhilarated speech, for he is now a freeman. There were other occasions when I was honored to listen him speak. It is true that somehow good Providence had helped him on various occasions. He was chosen among so many other slave boys to move to Baltimore. Still, he was not the privileged one. When I remember how I hated my lessons of spelling I feel such shame! This brave man was thirsty for knowledge and knew how to appreciate every piece of wisdom. Why, this man learned to spell while listening to carpenters who worked on a ship. I shamefully admit I did not have enough personal power to stand up against abstract principles and social demands. Frederick Douglass taught me how to be a man. We are soon to say goodbye to each other. I consider him my great friend and we shared many secrets. He recounted how perilous was his escape to the free lands. He vividly described to me the experiences of other slaves. He enlightened me in such a way there was no desire on his part to wound or injure my feelings as a white man. Nevertheless, my white cheeks blushed when I imagined Mr. Covey breaking his mind and body. Bloody hand of my white brother had slapped me in the face and left the mark of shame. I rejoiced when he fought back! And I too know better now. For the first time I beheld the true horrors of human slavery. His wise words full of pathos gave me the knowledge about so many matters. I did not know what to think of human nature, to celebrate it or despise it. He was speaking truth when he said "knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom." I too was a slave to conventions and false beliefs. Do not judge me harshly my white brother! I only celebrate the words saying we were all made equal! Expect my return soon, my love. I have arranged with old Mr. Douglass’ friends to help us in bringing you here. There you will find this book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a gift from an old friend of mine. I am sure, my dear son, you will learn from its pages how to be a man. Your loving father, Alfred Bloomsbury

Dear Jean, 3

I have strong reasons to believe that Alfred Bloomsbury is our great-great- great-grand father! I have underlined the most important parts, you will see. He was a man ahead of his time, don’t you agree? I have some letters to show you as well. See you back at home. Bill


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