The Influence and Career of Olaudah Equiano There have been many authors throughout history who have impacted America, amongst them is Olaudah Equiano. Olaudah Equiano, a slave who wrote about his terrible experiences, not only changed America, but changed the world. Equiano’s life and career were divided in two parts: his life as a slave and his life as a free man. He battled the slave ships and helped abolish the slave institutions with the power and depth of his writings.
Equiano’s most powerful piece of literature was The Interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano because of its devastating impact on the slave trade.
Olaudah traveled from country to country selling his book and promoting the anti-slave movement. He also wrote many letters and other documents trying to help direct people to understand the truth of slavery. This man truly taught the world to move against slavery and the brutality that came with it. Equiano’s influence was profond during his life, but after he died his book and memory lived on, helping bring the end of slavery.
Equiano’s life was evermore changed when a group of raiders attacked his home, kidnapped him, and sold him into slavery.
His world was sent into a dark and painful hole of despair as he was transferred across the oceans on a slave ship. In his Narrative he exclaimed, “The heat and climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. ” (Equiano, Olaudah. ) These terrible memories and experiences gave him the means to call upon good men to stop the corrupt ways of slavery in both the old and new world. After being sold in America, Olaudah was pushed from one owner to another. He was eventually passed to his last owner, Robert King who was a Quaker merchant.
After 20 years of hard toil, Robert King gave money to Equiano allowing him to earn his freedom. Once he was free, he traveled the new world adding to his collection of knowledge and experience. His career as a slave and years of traveling made possible his ability to aaaaaaaa the hearts of many. Olaudah “was the first American slave to write an autobiography telling his experiences. ” (Horton, James O. , and Lois E. Horton. , 1) This Narrative was published in the year 1789. Many aspects in his life led him to be an outstanding writer. For instance, one of Equiano’s owners was a man named Michael Pascal who taught him how to read and write.
His book turned into an international bestseller and the most well known book about living in the world of slavery. Being an international bestseller the book must have been amazing, especially because of the slave-abolishing effect it had on so many people who previously owned slaves and promoted slavery. After his book was written, Equiano set sail across oceans and traveled through lands to sell his book to all of Europe. Olaudah’s tours were long, but with his perseverance, he had much success in persuading Great Britain’s Parliament. His book was also highly promoted by Thomas Clarkson.
Equiano wrote a letter to Thomas Clarkson which said, “Sir, I went to Ireland and was there eight and a half months and sold 1900 copies of my narrative. ” This shows how hard and motivated Equiano was and of his growing influence. (abolition. e2bn. org. ) His book was a hammer that beat the stubborn heads that permitted the horrible slave trade and the “middle passage”. The influence of Olaudah had far reaching and penetrating effects on the people of his time and the people long after. His Narrative “offered a clear account of the brutality of slavery and the arguments against it. ” (norfolkblackhistorymonth. org).
Equiano’s Narrative, full of vivid descriptions, awoke a sense of moral obligation within the nobles of England. His primary purpose was to encourage Great Britain’s Parliament to shut down the slave ships and slave plantations. This once poor slave became a wealthy and highly intellectual free man. He proved that he was not a savage, but a brilliant man who could influence the tides of history. Though thousands upon thousands of books were sold while he was alive, it was after his death that the world truly started to change. While alive, he and William Wilberforce fought with other abolitionists to bring down slavery.
After his passing the world changed for the better when slave ships were no longer permitted in England. Once this happened, ripples spread throughout the world, leading many other countries to abolish slavery including the United States of America. “Equiano exhibited no bitterness or anger, revealing a moral superiority over his tormentors that spoke volumes about the potential of the human spirit. ” He in his very actions and way of treating others proved that he was in fact completely correct. (norfolkblackhistorymonth. org). His spirit led the abolition movements even after he died.
He not only changed the world’s morals as a whole, but also changed how slaves themselves stood up to slavery. Equiano impacted the whole entire genre of slave writings. He was a major example in encouraging slaves to stand up and fight with the use of language. Olaudah’s left behind his memories to the people of today, showing that slavery is wrong. Equiano proved to everyone that a black man could be just as smart, and in this case even smarter than many white men. A young boy, born in Africa, stripped of his name, and sold into slavery would become an anti-slavery hero. Olaudah Equiano became one of the most powerful leaders ever to live.
Equiano could have become free and just given up, but instead he fought the slave ships and their owners. His time as a slave built him to help stop and abolish slavery. Equiano was an intellectual giant who used realistic and vivid descriptions of his horrible past to shape the future. Works Cited Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself. London: Printed For, and Sold by the Author; & G. G. J. & J. Robinson; and by Charles Stalker, 1793. Print. Horton, James O. , and Lois E. Horton. “The African Roots of Colonial America. ” Slavery and the Making of America.
N. p. : Oxford UP, 2005. N. pag. SIRS Researcher. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. . Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745-1797): The Former Slave, Seaman & Writer: The Abolition of Slavery Project. ” Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745-1797): The Former Slave, Seaman & Writer: The Abolition of Slavery Project. N. p. , n. d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. . Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797). ” Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797). N. p. , n. d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797). ” Olaudah Equiano. N. p. , n. d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. Olaudah Equiano “World Book Online Reference Center | Online Reference Book| Online Encyclopedia. ” World Book. N. p. , n. d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. .
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