April 20th, 2015
History 121 Dr. Kirn Frederick Douglas: The Hardships and Elations of Gaining Freedom
Frederick Douglass, born into a life of bondage, wrote an inspiring autobiography about his life as a slave until his freedom at last. Douglass begins his narrative by explaining how he doesn’t know his age, birthday, or his father and spent little time with his mother. It was common in that part of Maryland which Douglass was living, mothers and their babies were separated at an early age. Douglass and his mother, Harriett Bailey, were separated when he was an infant and Frederick believes this was to destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. When his mother passed away, Douglass quoted, “I received the tidings of her death with much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger.”(Ch.1, p.21) He didn’t have a relationship with any of his family because separation occurred every day, all day. He never met his father, only heard whispers that his master was his father and indeed his father was white. There are multiple events that occur throughout his time as a slave, but one that introduced him to the horrifying crime, was the beating of his Aunt Hester at Colonel Lloyd’s Plantation.
Douglass was about seven or eight years old when his first master, Captain Anthony, relieved him from Colonel Lloyd’s planation to go to Baltimore. While on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, his duties consisted of keeping the front yard clean, driving up the cows, keeping fowls out the garden and most importantly helping Master Daniel Lloyd find his birds after shooting them down. Master Daniel became attached to Douglass and was somewhat of a protector to him. Daniel made sure the other boys wouldn’t impose on Douglass, and divided his cakes with him. Overall, Frederick witnessed bloody deeds of others but suffered little from anything else than hunger and cold.
I feel that the departure from Colonel Lloyd’s plantation to the arrival in Baltimore was an important event for Mr. Douglass because it opened the gateway to his prosperity. Master Hugh Auld, was the new master and home of Frederick Douglass for the next seven years. “I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd’s plantation as one of the most interesting events of my life,” said Douglass as he began a new journey to his life. (Ch. 5, p. 45-46) I feel that Douglass looked at this shockingly, surprising move as an opportunity one step closer to freedom, as he quotes, “I left without a regret, and with the highest hopes of future happiness.” (Ch. 5, p. 44) While in Baltimore, he gained several important values that led him to be a successful run away. He was introduced to the wife of Master Hugh Auld, Mrs. Auld who immediately wanted to teach Douglass how to read. Frederick made friends with the little white boys on the street of Baltimore where he converted them into teachers. He began to read daily, “The Columbian Orator”, and Sheridan’s mighty speeches where he learned on behalf of Catholic emancipation, the power of truth over the conscience of a slaveholder. Douglass learned to reject his slaveholders while having thoughts of arguments to sustain slavery. After mastering how to read, he learned how to write. Master Thomas, Master Hugh Auld’s son, went to college to write. There were many books Master Thomas wrote while in college, and Douglass learned to write by copying them. This was significant for Douglass in planning his escape to the north where petitions were going around in regards to the abolition of slavery. I feel that learning how to read and write was important for Douglass because it was known as unsafe and unlawful if slaves were educated, and therefore he had more knowledge. By doing the opposite of what the slaveholders demanded, Douglass gained a sense of power that he used when finally making his escape. I feel the second event that’s important in Douglas’s life is the battle with Mr. Covey. On January