chapter  5
Douglass as an Exhibit of Ethos
Pages 21

The title of this chapter has a double meaning. Frederick Douglass was frequently lauded by his allies and reviewers as an “excellent specimen” of his race. His life, represented in his ethos, served several closely related functions: he was a representative example of other blacks in slavery, he was an exemplar of the highest of society’s virtues, but he was also an exhibit of a dangerous and exotic kind of manhood that thrilled antebellum audiences and enticed them into the hall to hear abolitionist speeches. How Douglass managed to portray himself in such diverse ways, as typical yet exceptional for both his character and personality, and the power that came from doing so, are the subjects of this chapter.