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Manzano’s slave narrative was both similar to and different from Douglass’s autobiography. At the beginning of Manzano’s recollection, his experience as a slave was the opposite of Douglass’s. He was treated kindly as a young child and was cared for by his mistress; in Douglass’s case, young slaves were cared for by older slaves and were treated like animals. Douglass makes a point of describing the slaves’ ignorance about themselves, including age and lineage; however, Manzano knew his parents and his age, and was even baptized. He also enjoyed cultural excursions, such as seeing plays and operas. The two major differences between Douglass and Manzano as children are the issues of punishment and education. While Douglass was punished severely and had to see other slaves being beaten, Manzano was rarely punished; in fact, beating him was prohibited : “I raised such a fuss…that I should have received a beating, but nobody dared do that. Everyone avoided it…”. While Douglass recounts a dramatic scene between his master and mistress regarding his education, Manzano was encouraged by his masters and mistresses to compose poetry, imitate French opera, and memorize sermons.

Both Douglass and Manzano experienced major life changes when they transitioned from their original owners to their new ones. For Douglass, this meant slightly improved treatment and a chance at some education. For Manzano, it was the difference between being treated well and being abused. These turning points contribute to the literary flow of these slave narratives and make them both very interesting reads.

Frederick Jackson Turner brings up several points in The Significance of the Frontier which I found very interesting. Basically, his thesis in this paper is that the study of the American frontier is a model of the evolution of politics, economy, and culture. He examines the idea that each time the frontier was advanced, America saw a return to primitive life which eventually developed into what it is today.
On page 3, Turner says, “the wilderness masters the colonist”. This is an interesting point because in my experience, American historians have always said that it was the other way around. Ever since I can remember, I have been taught in history class that the pioneers bravely moved into the wilderness with their covered wagons, picked out a place to live, and promptly began to farm the land and build a house. As a young child, these beliefs were reinforced by literature such as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. However, according to Turner, moving into the western wilderness changed the settlers even to the point of Indianizing them: “it puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick, he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp…”(p.2). This surprised me because I had never heard this idea before. However, the settlers did not stay this way forever: Turner goes on to explain that the colonists changed the wilderness into a conglomeration of different English heritages but also with distinctly New World influences. This, according to Turner, is one way in which the frontier is a contributor to, and study of, American culture.

In his Letter to the Spanish Americans, Viscardo y Guzmán uses four words to describe the history of America: “ingratitude, injustice, slavery, and desolation” (327). When I first read this sentence, I thought that “ingratitude” would refer to the settlers and that “slavery” would refer to the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans. However, this was not the case in Guzmán’s mind. He writes that the “ingratitude” of Spanish American history was on the part of the Spanish government. Guzmán claims that the Spanish conquerors and settlers “respected, preserved, and cordially cherished the attachment of [their] ancestors to their former country” and that they had “sacrificed incalculable riches of every kind” (328), but that Spain “exiles [them] from the whole of the Old World, and cuts [them] off from the society to which [they] are connected by every tie; adding to this unprecedented usurpation of [their] personal liberty, a second usurpation…that of [their] properties”(329). “Slavery” refers to the Spanish Americans, who Guzmán says were enslaved by the mother country. He feels that Spain took advantage of the Spanish Americans, exploited their resources, and gave them nothing in return. They excluded them and forced them to obey laws that the Spanish Americans disagreed with. This seems like a hypocritical statement since the Spanish Americans seemed to have no problem with enslaving the Native populations and exploiting their land. This seems like a parallel to British America, where Africans were enslaved and mistreated – but the British felt that they were being enslaved by the tyrannical English government. This passage shows once again the hypocritical mindset of many Europeans during the Colonial period.

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