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Frederick Douglass’s “Narrative” is a compelling and heart wrenching account of the life of a slave. His use of the first person and obvious passion in telling his story effectively draw in the reader. When he writes about the slave songs, and the common misconception about them, his eloquent telling of his own feels at that moment make the story even more powerful and memorable. Douglass writes that the slaves sang to express and release their great sorrows, and that the songs are full of pain and grief. Most white people at the time believed the slaves sang when they were happy, as music and singing are often related to happiness. To show the true meaning and power of the slave songs, Douglass states how years later, as a free man, he is still affected by the memory of these mournful songs. He writes, “the mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek.” This is clearly a very person moment that he is sharing with the reader, which makes the reader feel a connection to Douglass, making his tale even more compelling and powerful. It is the intimate details that are most memorable in his tragic story. The knowledge that there is a happy ending, that Douglass does escape slavery and reach freedom, is felt throughout the “Narrative,” and provides a ray of hope, even as he writes of the terrible story of slavery.

In his letter to Henry Cullen, Simon Bolivar expresses his hopes and predictions for the future governments of the Spanish American states after they are liberated, and why it is in Europe’s best interest to help the states again their independence. During the colonial period, Spain had complete control of governing Latin America. The crollios were not able to participate in their own governments, so in essence they had been kept in infancy and had no experience in government administration. Bolivar states that Constitutional Monarchies and Federal Republics are the best forms of government, but the lack of experience of Latin America in politics make these forms of government “too perfect.” Bolivar sees the whole region of Spanish America as too large to be one state; it would be too prone to corruption. Bolivar predicts in his letter that Mexico will try to be a representative republic, but will eventually become an aristocracy. Ultimately, he predicts the states will choose governments based on the population and size of the territory.
Bolivar states it is in the best interest of European nations to support the cause for independence, because it will create free markets overseas. By this time Spain was becoming less powerful, and Bolivar said it was actually in Spain’s best interests to let the Spanish American states be free. Basically, Bolivar uses the incentive of better economic relations to help the Spanish Americans achieve independence, and ensure trading patterns after independence is achieved.

In Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virginia,” he creates many contradictions about freedom and liberty, while simultaneously being ahead of his time with predictions of future events. Jefferson believes slavery is a political issue that will divide the country, and is morally wrong. This does happen almost a hundred years later, leading up to the Civil War, and the Reconstruction period following the war. The contradiction lies in the fact that Jefferson himself had slaves and fathered slaves. Even within the text of his writing the political conflict of morals and societal norms can be seen. His first draft of the Declaration of Independence stressed abolishing slavery, but was largely rejected by the Continental Congress, so it was rewritten, omitting the issue of slavery. In his book “Notes on the State of Virginia” he again expresses his desire to abolish slavery, but states the two races could not live in harmony, because of “physical and moral” differences. From his writing, it can be determined that he felt slavery was wrong, but that white people were superior to black people. He uses the Roman slaves, who were write, and become artists and playwrights to show the institution of slavery does not diminish one’s capacity for the arts, and therefore the lack of intellectual conversation and artist work from the Africans must be a result of race. This was a very biased and naïve remark, that further shows his contradictions on the issues of slavery and race.

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