The Founders: The Cost of Freedom Continued

Douglass’ narrative appears to confirm this belief. He gives considerable time to discussing the harsh and violent realities of being human property. However, his happiest moments before he is free are on the plantation teaching his fellow to slaves to read. He describes with joy a group of slaves that risked thirty nine lashes because “they wished to learn. Their minds had been starved from their cruel masters. They had been shut up in the mental darkness. I taught them because it was the light of my soul to be doing something that looked like bettering the condition of my race” (93). This places an overwhelming amount of importance on literacy and its meaning to black people in free and slave America. It is fair to say that because both authors possessed the ability to read, it shaped the way they viewed their own personal relationships with God.

              Stewart’s fiery speeches, essays, and prayers are radical because they encourage black people to rely on the word of God quite literally. They are reflection of her own personal, radical and revolutionary experience with Him. Following the deaths of her husband and her mentor, Stewart appears to turn heavily to God for understanding. She comes to the conclusion that

“many will suffer for pleading the cause of oppressed Africa, and I shall glory in being one of her martyrs; for I am firmly persuaded, that the God in whom I trust is able to protect me from the rage and malice of mine enemies, and from them that will rise up against me; and if there is no other way for me to escape, He is able to take me Himself, as He did the most noble, fearless, and undaunted David Walker” (30).

Stewart believes that she has been chosen along with other women in history to bring reason to the insanity. She points out other women, like Joan of Arc and Mary, play significant roles in biblical stories. Her individual relationship with God appears uncompromising. In return, she is uncompromising about the role black people will have to play in black liberation. For some reason, maybe because of the deaths of so many of her loved ones, Stewart feels that she is specially connected to God. Although her explanations do not appease the black clergy in Boston and they eventually force her out of the city; they do provide insight into what motivated Stewart to stand up and stand out in such a radical way for the time period. The attention she gave to addressing black women stands in stark contrast to Douglass’ narrative. It adds to the progressiveness of her political theories. Douglass’ story focuses on his journey to freedom and the only black women mentioned are in relation to him, and not to their individual rights and freedoms.  Despite Stewart’s focus on inclusivity in her criticism, as she says in her farewell speech to the city

“I have neither kindred nor friends. I stand alone in your midst, exposed to the fiery darts of the devil, and to the assaults of wicked men. But though all the powers of the earth and hell were to combine against me, though all nature should sink into decay, still I would trust in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation” (41).

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