Social Mobility and Christian Views
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Social Mobility and Christian Views
In “Race and Slavery: Narrative of the Life of F. Douglass", it was very hard for the slaves in the society to change their social status in their lifetimes. Slaveholders used to keep their slaves ignorant by refusing to grant them access to information about their paternal relationships and birthdays. The slaveholders or slave masters used to believe that having a sense of history would have made the slaves socialize as individuals and therefore pull efforts from each other and move from the status of being slaves. Douglass was born of an enslaved mother and her master, which made him automatically to become a slave by the mere fact that his mother was a slave but his father could not take him because he was regarded as a slave. His master, who was his father, denied him education and therefore Douglass worked as a household servant and a field hand. His was of a slave who served his master forever (Welch 55).
He believed in an upward social mobility and economic mobility of people and therefore never had doubts that people could raise from their present status to a different status; from slave to being free men and this led to his struggle for freedom. This is clearly demonstrated in that, though born out of slavery, he planned his escape and bought his freedom from his slave master. In his quest for freedom, Douglass rose from being a slave to a man who fought for the rights of slaves for he believed that black people also had their share of freedom. He rose in his social status from a slave who was owned by his master to a free man who could even marry. (Welch 55).
After freeing slavery, Douglass spent the rest of his life advocating for slavery to be put to a stop. He delivered speeches to people, asked for support in abolishing slavery, and was extremely active in forming regiments of black soldiers who were to fight for the end of slavery. Douglass founded the basis upon which slavery bondage would end and the slaves would rise from social degradation. His movements for equality are believed to be the foundations upon which equality movements by Martin Luther king were based. He strongly believed that for people to be free, they have to fight for their freedom. Therefore, Douglass’s dream of freedom was to see the blacks freed from slavery. He prayed for slaves for their freedom and for them to have hope in life and life after death. He believed that America was a hypocrisy nation and by practicing slavery, the people were committing sins against God and man and the sins had to be repented. He was disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Christian faith of Americans who still practiced slavery. He could not understand how people could hold others as slaves and yet practice Christianity. Douglass despised the way the Americans treated their slaves and yet pretended to be Christians (Welch 55).
On the other hand, John Winthrop viewed the condition of humankind as disposed by God and he believed that some people are destined to be poor while others were high and eminent in power. To Winthrop, the differences existed for the benefit of preserving and for the whole good of the humankind race. Social mobility to him was unexpected because he believed that God destined everybody. God had his own reasons for some people being poor and others very rich and people were supposed to get used to their status. Albeit the differences between people of different classes, he believed that everybody has needs of others in a brotherly affection and therefore no man was wealthier than the other was or honorable than the other out of his own self. He held beliefs that were parallel with Douglass, to Winthrop; he did not acknowledge that slaves did not choose to be slaves and neither God made them to serve as slaves (Welch 55).
The glory of the creator and the common good of humankind created the differences between people of different social status and therefore most of the states, which had slaves, made it a crime to baptize the slaves. Though the puritans baptized their slaves, they gave their slaves bibles that stressed on the importance of the slaves being obedient to their masters. Their idea of freedom for the slaves was different in that the slaves were still supposed to conform to their masters and obey them. Slaves, even after being baptized, did not enjoy the freedom like other people in the native country. They were supposed to serve their masters though they were incorporated to be brothers and sisters through baptism. His idea of freedom is very different from that one of Douglass (Aronson 34).
Puritans felt that if the slaves were baptized, they would cease to be slaves and become their own brothers and sisters. Colonists felt free to enslave Africans since Africans were not Christians until the puritans started to baptize slaves. The colonists protested because they believed that by baptizing slaves, they would be forced to free their slaves. To many, John Winthrop concepts of slavery were based on the puritan’s teachings and beliefs. For instance, he made a decision to free the slaves by selling them as survivors in the Bahamas. Like the puritans, he saw slavery as unauthorized in the bible’s teachings and was therefore not relevant to a society in anyway. The puritans believed that people went to paradise after being baptized which was not relevant at the time being because what the slaves needed now was freedom from their masters (Aronson 34).
Slavery was widely practiced in America and in most cases; Africans were the ones who were mostly enslaved. Frederick Douglass was a man who was born in slavery but this did not deter him from freeing himself from the chains of his master. He rose through the social class to a person who used to address conferences fighting for slave freedom. John Winthrop is a man who held the puritan theories of belief. He believed that people would go to heaven by being baptized and he therefore thought that the slaves could also be freed from their bondage through baptism. His ideas of freeing the slave are therefore very different from Douglass’s ideas of freeing the slaves (Espin & Nickloff 67).
Aronson, M.: John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.
Espin, O. & Nickloff, J.: An introductory of theology and religious studies. New York: Liturgical Press, 2007.
Welch, C.: Fredrick Douglass History maker Bios: Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2003