“I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” -Frederick Douglass

Douglass distinguished “a slave in form” and “a slave in fact” by his personal standing and outlook on the terms. A “slave in form” was how he was perceived by others because he was owned by a master and those around him had always seen him as a slave due to his skin color. Therefore, due to his race and as a physical person, he was “a slave in form.” Eventually, he worked hard to reach the freedom he had always wanted. Against the odds for slaves, Douglass educated himself and became aware of the social works of the country. He therefore gained what most southern white Americans tried neglecting the slaves of, and that is education. Douglass knows he will never be “a slave in fact” anymore because there is no way he can lose that education and freedom anymore. He will not go back to being deprived of knowledge and being forced to follow other’s beliefs. Douglass did not identify as being a slave anymore and he decides what he wants to be because he gained and earned that freedom the moment he decided to teach himself. His education and escape from being confined as a slave separated him from being “a slave in form” and “a slave in fact.”


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