lecture on trip to europe

Frederick Douglass not only believed in being well spoken, well written and well educated, he also strove to be well traveled.  He gave this lecture describing his time spent traveling in Europe.  Although the date it was given was not clear, one thing that is clear about it is that it has been edited, likely by Douglass himself.  This indicates that Douglass was meticulous, not content with simply arguing or speaking emotionally, but having a planned and powerful speech.  The true interest in the piece however, is the detail in which Douglass speaks of the foreign countries.  He sounds almost reverent, and his writing is extremely poetic, which is a sharp contrast to the way he describes the United States in The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass.  However, it also important to note that Douglass does not condemn the United States.  He recognizes that some people believe that the United States will someday be the pinnacle of Western civilization, and he hopes for this, rather than scorning this positive view.  This just shows his optimism, as many would likely have little forgiveness for a country in which they were a slave.  The questions that this lecture raises are Douglass’s reasons for going abroad.  Were they purely personal, an attempt to further his self-education?  Or did he wish to educate those in foreign countries and raise international awareness of slavery?  Perhaps he simply wanted to bring his knowledge back to the United States.  Further reading of his speeches may hold the answer for these questions.

One thought on “lecture on trip to europe

  1. One of the most interesting things I found in this article was his comparisons between the life of Europeans and the life of Africans. He mentions that although carrying items on the head was considered a sign of African inferiority in America, many women in Europe did the same. Also he mentions that the community planning of Europe and Africa is very similar, with people working in fields during the day and living in a more concemtrated town, unlike the farms and plantations of America. Another interesting thing is that even the smaller cities that he went to are all very touristy today, so that would lead me to believe that he in Europe to learn and to enjoy himself.

Comments are closed.