Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland. The exact date and year is unknown, as records were not closely kept on slaves. His mother was Harriet Bailey and his father is believed to be a white man, perhaps his first master. Like other children born into slavery, Frederick saw his mother maybe five times in his life. Frederick’s mother was still able to work so he was taken from his mother and given to his grandmother to raise him.
Douglass had two masters in his lifetime. The first was Captain Anthony; he was the clerk and superintendent to Colonel Edward Lloyd. Colonel Lloyd owned the plantain that Douglass lived on. Douglass said that there were nearly four hundred slaves on his plantation and the neighboring farms that Lloyd owned. On this plantation is when Douglass witnessed his first beating at a very young and it was of his own aunt. It scared him and undoubtedly is what is the start of his detestation toward the slave-owners.
When Douglass was a child on Lloyd’s farm, he held simple jobs. He was to drive the cows up in the evening, keep the fouls out of the garden, keep the front yard clean and run errands for Anthony’s daughter, Lucretia. It was clear that Douglass was a favorite of Lloyd’s and was often protected from bullying and did not suffer beating often. He did, however, suffer from hunger and freezing weather. He did not receive a regular allowance of food and during the winter months only had a linen shirt to wear.
When Douglass was seven or eight years old, he went to Baltimore to live with Hugh Auld, brother to Captain Lloyd’s son-in-law. It is here when Douglass found his desire and love to learn. Hugh’s wife, Sophia, was kind in the beginning. She began teaching Douglass the alphabet but Mr. Auld put a stop it, saying it would spoil him and make him unfit to be a slave by making him intractable and unmanageable. After this, Mrs. Auld turned impatient and full of rage, going as far as to make sure no reading material was never left out around Douglass.
During his time with Master Hugh, Douglass learned to read and write on his own. He made friends with the poor white children and learned from them. Douglass used a board fence, brick wall, pavement and chalk to practice his writing. He would exchange bread for lessons, as he was better off than many of them.
At twelve, Douglass read a book titled Columbian Orator. It was about the relationship between the master and slave and was powerful movement of human rights, denouncing slavery. Through this learning, Douglass found that Master Auld was right, learning did make slave intractable and unmanageable. Douglass began to feel discontent and enslavement tortured him even more. He went as far as contemplating suicide.
Word of abolition began to spread from Washington D.C. While at work at the wharf, two Irishmen encouraged him to escape to the North to freedom. Although he acted disinterested at the time, he kept the idea in the back of his mind.
After a fight with his father, Master Thomas, Master Hugh’s son, moved away to St. Michael, taking