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The Abolitionists

In this module, students view a clip examining how Frederick Douglass uses his brilliant oratorical skills to speak out against slavery—becoming the most famous Black man of his time. Students analyze abolitionist and pro-slavery primary sources and consider discussion prompts for more dialogue and deeper reflection.


Essential Question:
What impact did The Liberator have on Frederick Douglass?

Thinking Questions:

  • Why do you think Frederick Douglass was considered an important speaker?
  • How did Frederick Douglass respond to accusations against him?
  • Why did Frederick Douglass include the words “Written By Himself” in his book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave?

Examine the image, Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave.

  • Look at the illustration, fonts used, and the overall design of the page. What does the title page tell you about the book?
  • What do you learn about Frederick Douglass from this title page that you might not learn anywhere else?
  • Why do you think the illustration was made?
  • Why is “Written by Himself” an important part of the book title?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this book?

Analyze the manuscript, Selections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention.

  • Close read the page and make observations about what you notice, wonder, and feel.
  • What was the purpose of the declaration of the American Anti-slavery Convention?
  • What is the author’s point of view?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this declaration?
  • Does this print support the abolitionist movement and the fight to end slavery? Why or why not?

Examine the pamphlet, “Outrage,” February 2, 1837. Handbill.

  • Close read the pamphlet and make observations about what you notice, wonder, and feel.
  • What is the purpose of this handbill?
  • What is the author’s point of view?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this handbill?
  • Does this print support the abolitionist movement and the fight to end slavery? Why or why not?

Standards

  • Students will analyze the impact of antebellum reform movements on American politics and society by:
    • Evaluating the impact of social reform movements on temperance, prison, and educational reform.

    • Tracing the evolution, arguments, and impacts of the antebellum women’s movement.

    • Identifying the methods, arguments, and impacts of the abolitionist movement.

  • D2.Civ.6.6-8. Describe the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people’s lives.

  • D2.Civ.10.6-8. Explain the relevance of personal interests and perspectives, civic virtues, and democratic principles when people address issues and problems in government and civil society.

  • D2.Civ.14.6-8. Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies, and promoting the common good.

  • D2.Geo.4.6-8. Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.

  • D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.

  • D2.His.3.6-8. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.

  • RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

  • RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

  • WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.