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My Bondage and My Freedom, My Bondage and My Freedom

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MY BONDAGE
and
MY FREEDOM
_By_
FREDERICK DOUGLASS
_By a principle essential to Christianity, a PERSON is eternally
differenced from a THING; so that the idea of a HUMAN BEING,
necessarily excludes the idea of PROPERTY IN THAT BEING_.
COLERIDGE

Entered according to Act of Congress in 1855 by Frederick
Douglass in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the
Northern District of New York

TO
HONORABLE GERRIT SMITH,
AS A SLIGHT TOKEN OF
ESTEEM FOR HIS CHARACTER,
ADMIRATION FOR HIS GENIUS AND BENEVOLENCE,
AFFECTION FOR HIS PERSON, AND
GRATITUDE FOR HIS FRIENDSHIP,
AND AS
A Small but most Sincere Acknowledgement of
HIS PRE-EMINENT SERVICES IN BEHALF OF THE RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES
OF AN
AFFLICTED, DESPISED AND DEEPLY OUTRAGED PEOPLE,
BY RANKING SLAVERY WITH PIRACY AND MURDER,
AND BY
DENYING IT EITHER A LEGAL OR CONSTITUTIONAL EXISTENCE,
This Volume is Respectfully Dedicated,
BY HIS FAITHFUL AND FIRMLY ATTACHED FRIEND,
FREDERICK DOUGLAS.
ROCHESTER, N.Y.

CONTENTS

EDITORS PREFACE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

LIFE AS A SLAVE?

I--CHILDHOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
II--REMOVED FROM MY FIRST HOME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
III--PARENTAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
IV--A GENERAL SURVEY OF THE SLAVE PLANTATION . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
V--GRADUAL INITIATION INTO THE MYSTERIES OF SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . 61
VI--TREATMENT OF SLAVES ON LLOYDS PLANTATION . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
VII--LIFE IN THE GREAT HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
VIII--A CHAPTER OF HORRORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
IX--PERSONAL TREATMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101
X--LIFE IN BALTIMORE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111
XI--"A CHANGE CAME O'ER THE SPIRIT OF MY DREAM". . . . . . . . . . .118
XII--RELIGIOUS NATURE AWAKENED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127
XIII--THE VICISSITUDES OF SLAVE LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .135
XIV--EXPERIENCE IN ST. MICHAEL'S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144
XV--COVEY, THE NEGRO BREAKER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159
XVI--ANOTHER PRESSURE OF THE TYRANTS VICE. . . . . . . . . . . . . .172

CONTENTS

XVII--THE LAST FLOCCING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
XVIII--NEW RELATIONS AND DUTIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194
XIX--THE RUN-AWAY PLOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .209
XX--APPRENTICESHIP LIFE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .235
XXI--MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .248

LIFE AS A FREEMAN
XXII--LIBERTY ATTAINED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .261
XXIII--INTRODUCED TO THE ABOLITIONISTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .278
XXIV--TWENTY-ONE MONTHS IN GREAT BRITAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284
XXV--VARIOUS INCIDENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .304

APPENDIX
RECEPTION SPEECH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .318
LETTER TO HIS OLD MASTER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .330
THE NATURE OF SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .337
INHUMANITY OF SLAVERY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .343
WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE FOURTH OF JULY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . .349
THE INTERNAL SLAVE TRADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .354
THE SLAVERY PARTY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .358
THE ANTI-SLAVERY MOVEMENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .363

MY BONDAGE
_and_
MY FREEDOM

EDITOR'S PREFACE

If the volume now presented to the public were a mere work of
ART, the history of its misfortune might be written in two very
simple words--TOO LATE. The nature and character of slavery have
been subjects of an almost endless variety of artistic
representation; and after the brilliant achievements in that
field, and while those achievements are yet fresh in the memory
of the million, he who would add another to the legion, must
possess the charm of transcendent excellence, or apologize for
something worse than rashness. The reader is, therefore,
assured, with all due promptitude, that his attention is not
invited to a work of ART, but to a work of FACTS--Facts, terrible
and almost incredible, it may be yet FACTS, nevertheless.

I am authorized to say that there is not a fictitious name nor
place in the whole volume; but that names and places are
literally given, and that every transaction therein described
actually transpired.

Perhaps the best Preface to this volume is furnished in the
following letter of Mr. Douglass, written in answer to my urgent
solicitation for such a work:

ROCHESTER, N. Y. _July_ 2, 1855.

DEAR FRIEND: I have long entertained, as you very well know, a
somewhat positive repugnance to writing or speaking anything for
the public, which could, with any degree of plausibilty, make me
liable to the imputation of seeking personal notoriety, for its
own sake. Entertaining that feeling very sincerely, and
permitting its control, perhaps, quite unreasonably, I have often
<2>refused to narrate my personal experience in public anti-
slavery meetings, and in sympathizing circles, when urged to do
so by friends, with whose views and wishes, ordinarily, it were a
pleasure to comply. In my letters and speeches, I have generally
aimed to discuss the question of Slavery in the light of
fundamental principles, and upon facts, notorious and open to
all; making, I trust, no more of the fact of my own former
enslavement, than circumstances seemed absolutely to require. I
have never placed my opposition to slavery on a basis so narrow
as my own enslavement, but rather upon the indestructible and
unchangeable laws of human nature, every one of which is
perpetually and flagrantly violated by the slave system. I have
also felt that it was best for those having histories worth the
writing--or supposed to be so--to commit such work to hands other
than their own. To write of one's self, in such a manner as not
to incur the imputation of weakness, vanity, and egotism, is a
work within the ability of but few; and I have little reason to
believe that I belong to that fortunate few.

These considerations caused me to hesitate, when first you kindly
urged me to prepare for publication a full account of my life as
a slave, and my life as a freeman.

Nevertheless, I see, with you, many reasons for regarding my
autobiography as exceptional in its character, and as being, in
some sense, naturally beyond the reach of those reproaches which
honorable and sensitive minds dislike to incur. It is not to
illustrate any heroic achievements of a man, but to vindicate a
just and beneficent principle, in its application to the whole
human family, by letting in the light of truth upon a system,
esteemed by some as a blessing, and by others as a curse and a
crime. I agree with you, that this system is now at the bar of
public opinion--not only of this country, but of the whole
civilized world--for judgment. Its friends have made for it the
usual plea--"not guilty;" the case must, therefore, proceed. Any
facts, either from slaves, slaveholders, or by-standers,
calculated to enlighten the public mind, by revealing the true
nature, character, and tendency of the slave system, are in
order, and can scarcely be innocently withheld.

I see, too, that there are special reasons why I should write my
own biography, in preference to employing another to do it. Not
only is slavery on trial, but unfortunately, the enslaved people
are also on trial. It is alleged, that they are, naturally,
inferior; that they are _so low_ in the scale of humanity, and so
utterly stupid, that they are unconscious of their wrongs, and do
not apprehend their rights. Looking, then, at your request, from
this stand-point, and wishing everything of which you think me
capable to go to the benefit of my afflicted people, I part with
my doubts and hesitation, and proceed to furnish you the desired
manuscript; hoping that you may be able to make such arrangements
for its publication as shall be best adapted to accomplish that
good which you so enthusiastically anticipate.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS

<3>

There was little necessity for doubt and hesitation on the part
of Mr. Douglass, as to the propriety of his giving to the world a
full account of himself. A man who was born and brought up in
slavery, a living witness of its horrors; who often himself
experienced its cruelties; and who, despite the depressing
influences surrounding his birth, youth and manhood, has risen,
from a dark and almost absolute obscurity, to the distinguished
position which he now occupies, might very well assume the
existence of a commendable curiosity, on the part of the public,
to know the facts of his remarkable history.
EDITOR

INTRODUCTION

When a man raises himself from the lowest condition in society to
the highest, mankind pay him the tribute of their admiration;
when he accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by
prudence and wisdom, their admiration is increased; but when his
course, onward and upward, excellent in itself, furthermore
proves a possible, what had hitherto been regarded as an
impossible, reform, then he becomes a burning and a shining
light, on which the aged may look with gladness, the young with
hope, and the down-trodden, as a representative of what they may
themselves become. To such a man, dear reader, it is my
privilege to introduce you.

The life of Frederick Douglass, recorded in the pages which
follow, is not merely an example of self-elevation under the most
adverse circumstances; it is, moreover, a noble vindication of
the highest aims of the American anti-slavery movement. The real
object of that movement is not only to disenthrall, it is, also,
to bestow upon the Negro the exercise of all those rights, from
the possession of which he has been so long debarred.

But this full recognition of the colored man to the right, and
the entire admission of the same to the full privileges,
political, religious and social, of manhood, requires powerful
effort on the part of the enthralled, as well as on the part of
those who would disenthrall them. The people at large must feel
the conviction, as well as admit the abstract logic, of human
equality; <5>the Negro, for the first time in the world's
history, brought in full contact with high civilization, must
prove his title first to all that is demanded for him; in the
teeth of unequal chances, he must prove himself equal to the mass
of those who oppress him--therefore, absolutely superior to his
apparent fate, and to their relative ability. And it is most
cheering to the friends of freedom, today, that evidence of this
equality is rapidly accumulating, not from the ranks of the half-
freed colored people of the free states, but from the very depths
of slavery itself; the indestructible equality of man to man is
demonstrated by the ease with which black men, scarce one remove
from barbarism--if slavery can be honored with such a
distinction--vault into the high places of the most advanced and
painfully acquired civilization. Ward and Garnett, Wells Brown
and Pennington, Loguen and Douglass, are banners on the outer
wall, under which abolition is fighting its most successful
battles, because they are living exemplars of the practicability
of the most radical abolitionism; for, they were all of them born
to the doom of slavery, some of them remained slaves until adult
age, yet they all have not only won equality to their white
fellow citizens, in civil, religious, political and social rank,
but they have also illustrated and adorned our common country by
their genius, learning and eloquence.

The characteristics whereby Mr. Douglass has won first rank among
these remarkable men, and is still rising toward highest rank
among living Americans, are abundantly laid bare in the book
before us. Like the autobiography of Hugh Miller, it carries us
so far back into early childhood, as to throw light upon the
question, "when positive and persistent memory begins in the
human being." And, like Hugh Miller, he must have been a shy
old-fashioned child, occasionally oppressed by what he could not
well account for, peering and poking about among the layers of
right and wrong, of tyrant and thrall, and the wonderfulness of
that hopeless tide of things which brought power to one race, and
unrequited toil to another, until, finally, he stumbled upon
<6>his "first-found Ammonite," hidden away down in the depths of
his own nature, and which revealed to him the fact that liberty
and right, for all men, were anterior to slavery and wrong. When
his knowledge of the world was bounded by the visible horizon on
Col. Lloyd's plantation, and while every thing around him bore a
fixed, iron stamp, as if it had always been so, this was, for one
so young, a notable discovery.

To his uncommon memory, then, we must add a keen and accurate
insight into men and things; an original breadth of common sense
which enabled him to see, and weigh, and compare whatever passed
before him, and which kindled a desire to search out and define
their relations to other things not so patent, but which never
succumbed to the marvelous nor the supernatural; a sacred thirst
for liberty and for learning, first as a means of attaining
liberty, then as an end in itself most desirable; a will; an
unfaltering energy and determination to obtain what his soul
pronounced desirable; a majestic self-hood; determined courage; a
deep and agonizing sympathy with his embruted, crushed and
bleeding fellow slaves, and an extraordinary depth of passion,
together with that rare alliance between passion and intellect,
which enables the former, when deeply roused, to excite, develop
and sustain the latter.

With these original gifts in view, let us look at his schooling;
the fearful discipline through which it pleased God to prepare
him for the high calling on which he has since entered--the
advocacy of emancipation by the people who are not slaves. And
for this special mission, his plantation education was better
than any he could have acquired in any lettered school. What he
needed, was facts and experiences, welded to acutely wrought up
sympathies, and these he could not elsewhere have obtained, in a
manner so peculiarly adapted to his nature. His physical being
was well trained, also, running wild until advanced into boyhood;
hard work and light diet, thereafter, and a skill in handicraft
in youth.
<7>

For his special mission, then, this was, considered in connection
with his natural gifts, a good schooling; and, for his special
mission, he doubtless "left school" just at the proper moment.
Had he remained longer in slavery--had he fretted under bonds
until the ripening of manhood and its passions, until the drear
agony of slave-wife and slave-children had been piled upon his
already bitter experiences--then, not only would his own history
have had another termination, but the drama of American slavery
would have been essentially varied; for I cannot resist the
belief, that the boy who learned to read and write as he did, who
taught his fellow slaves these precious acquirements as he did,
who plotted for their mutual escape as he did, would, when a man
at bay, strike a blow which would make slavery reel and stagger.
Furthermore, blows and insults he bore, at the moment, without
resentment; deep but suppressed emotion rendered him insensible
to their sting; but it was afterward, when the memory of them
went seething through his brain, breeding a fiery indignation at
his injured self-hood, that the resolve came to resist, and the
time fixed when to resist, and the plot laid, how to resist; and
he always kept his self-pledged word. In what he undertook, in
this line, he looked fate in the face, and had a cool, keen look
at the relation of means to ends. Henry Bibb, to avoid
chastisement, strewed his master's bed with charmed leaves and
_was whipped_. Frederick Douglass quietly pocketed a like
_fetiche_, compared his muscles with those of Covey--and _whipped
him_.

In the history of his life in bondage, we find, well developed,
that inherent and continuous energy of character which will ever
render him distinguished. What his hand found to do, he did with
his might; even while conscious that he was wronged out of his
daily earnings, he worked, and worked hard. At his daily labor
he went with a will; with keen, well set eye, brawny chest, lithe
figure, and fair sweep of arm, he would have been king among
calkers, had that been his mission.

It must not be overlooked, in this glance at his education, that
<8>Mr. Douglass lacked one aid to which so many men of mark have
been deeply indebted--he had neither a mother's care, nor a
mother's culture, save that which slavery grudgingly meted out to
him. Bitter nurse! may not even her features relax with human
feeling, when she gazes at such offspring! How susceptible he
was to the kindly influences of mother-culture, may be gathered
from his own words, on page 57: "It has been a life-long
standing grief to me, that I know so little of my mother, and
that I was so early separated from her. The counsels of her love
must have been beneficial to me. The side view of her face is
imaged on my memory, and I take few steps in life, without
feeling her presence; but the image is mute, and I have no
striking words of hers treasured up."

From the depths of chattel slavery in Maryland, our author
escaped into the caste-slavery of the north, in New Bedford,
Massachusetts. Here he found oppression assuming another, and
hardly less bitter, form; of that very handicraft which the greed
of slavery had taught him, his half-freedom denied him the
exercise for an honest living; he found himself one of a class--
free colored men--whose position he has described in the
following words:

"Aliens are we in our native land. The fundamental principles of
the republic, to which the humblest white man, whether born here
or elsewhere, may appeal with confidence, in the hope of
awakening a favorable response, are held to be inapplicable to
us. The glorious doctrines of your revolutionary fathers, and
the more glorious teachings of the Son of God, are construed and
applied against us. We are literally scourged beyond the
beneficent range of both authorities, human and divine. * * * *
American humanity hates us, scorns us, disowns and denies, in a
thousand ways, our very personality. The outspread wing of
American christianity, apparently broad enough to give shelter to
a perishing world, refuses to cover us. To us, its bones are
brass, and its features iron. In running thither for shelter and
<9>succor, we have only fled from the hungry blood-hound to the
devouring wolf--from a corrupt and selfish world, to a hollow and
hypocritical church."--_Speech before American and Foreign Anti-
Slavery Society, May_, 1854.

Four years or more, from 1837 to 1841, he struggled on, in New
Bedford, sawing wood, rolling casks, or doing what labor he
might, to support himself and young family; four years he brooded
over the scars which slavery and semi-slavery had inflicted upon
his body and soul; and then, with his wounds yet unhealed, he
fell among the Garrisonians--a glorious waif to those most ardent
reformers. It happened one day, at Nantucket, that he,
diffidently and reluctantly, was led to address an anti-slavery
meeting. He was about the age when the younger Pitt entered the
House of Commons; like Pitt, too, he stood up a born orator.

William Lloyd Garrison, who was happily present, writes thus of
Mr. Douglass' maiden effort; "I shall never forget his first
speech at the convention--the extraordinary emotion it excited in
my own mind--the powerful impression it created upon a crowded
auditory, completely taken by surprise. * * * I think I never
hated slavery so intensely as at that moment; certainly, my
perception of the enormous outrage which is inflicted by it on
the godlike nature of its victims, was rendered far more clear
than ever. There stood one in physical proportions and stature
commanding and exact--in intellect richly endowed--in natural
eloquence a prodigy."[1]

It is of interest to compare Mr. Douglass's account of this
meeting with Mr. Garrison's. Of the two, I think the latter the
most correct. It must have been a grand burst of eloquence! The
pent up agony, indignation and pathos of an abused and harrowed
boyhood and youth, bursting out in all their freshness and
overwhelming earnestness!

This unique introduction to its great leader, led immediately

[1] Letter, Introduction to _Life of Frederick Douglass_, Boston,
1841.

<10>to the employment of Mr. Douglass as an agent by the American
Anti-Slavery Society. So far as his self-relying and independent
character would permit, he became, after the strictest sect, a
Garrisonian. It is not too much to say, that he formed a
complement which they needed, and they were a complement equally
necessary to his "make-up." With his deep and keen sensitiveness
to wrong, and his wonderful memory, he came from the land of
bondage full of its woes and its evils, and painting them in
characters of living light; and, on his part, he found, told out
in sound Saxon phrase, all those principles of justice and right
and liberty, which had dimly brooded over the dreams of his
youth, seeking definite forms and verbal expression. It must
have been an electric flashing of thought, and a knitting of
soul, granted to but few in this life, and will be a life-long
memory to those who participated in it. In the society,
moreover, of Wendell Phillips, Edmund Quincy, William Lloyd
Garrison, and other men of earnest faith and refined culture, Mr.
Douglass enjoyed the high advantage of their assistance and
counsel in the labor of self-culture, to which he now addressed
himself with wonted energy. Yet, these gentlemen, although proud
of Frederick Douglass, failed to fathom, and bring out to the
light of day, the highest qualities of his mind; the force of
their own education stood in their own way: they did not delve
into the mind of a colored man for capacities which the pride of
race led them to believe to be restricted to their own Saxon
blood. Bitter and vindictive sarcasm, irresistible mimicry, and
a pathetic narrative of his own experiences of slavery, were the
intellectual manifestations which they encouraged him to exhibit
on the platform or in the lecture desk.

A visit to England, in 1845, threw Mr. Douglass among men and
women of earnest souls and high culture, and who, moreover, had
never drank of the bitter waters of American caste. For the
first time in his life, he breathed an atmosphere congenial to
the longings of his spirit, and felt his manhood free and
<11>unrestricted. The cordial and manly greetings of the British
and Irish audiences in public, and the refinement and elegance of
the social circles in which he mingled, not only as an equal, but
as a recognized man of genius, were, doubtless, genial and
pleasant resting places in his hitherto thorny and troubled
journey through life. There are joys on the earth, and, to the
wayfaring fugitive from American slavery or American caste, this
is one of them.

But his sojourn in England was more than a joy to Mr. Douglass.
Like the platform at Nantucket, it awakened him to the
consciousness of new powers that lay in him. From the pupilage
of Garrisonism he rose to the dignity of a teacher and a thinker;
his opinions on the broader aspects of the great American
question were earnestly and incessantly sought, from various
points of view, and he must, perforce, bestir himself to give
suitable answer. With that prompt and truthful perception which
has led their sisters in all ages of the world to gather at the
feet and support the hands of reformers, the gentlewomen of
England[2] were foremost to encourage and strengthen him to carve
out for himself a path fitted to his powers and energies, in the
life-battle against slavery and caste to which he was pledged.
And one stirring thought, inseparable from the British idea of
the evangel of freedom, must have smote his ear from every side--

_ Hereditary bondmen! know ye not
Who would be free, themselves mast strike the blow?_

The result of this visit was, that on his return to the United
States, he established a newspaper. This proceeding was sorely
against the wishes and the advice of the leaders of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, but our author had fully grown up to the
conviction of a truth which they had once promulged, but now

[2] One of these ladies, impelled by the same noble spirit which
carried Miss Nightingale to Scutari, has devoted her time, her
untiring energies, to a great extent her means, and her high
literary abilities, to the advancement and support of Frederick
Douglass' Paper, the only organ of the downtrodden, edited and
published by one of themselves, in the United States.

<12>forgotten, to wit: that in their own elevation--self-
elevation--colored men have a blow to strike "on their own hook,"
against slavery and caste. Differing from his Boston friends in
this matter, diffident in his own abilities, reluctant at their
dissuadings, how beautiful is the loyalty with which he still
clung to their principles in all things else, and even in this.

Now came the trial hour. Without cordial support from any large
body of men or party on this side the Atlantic, and too far
distant in space and immediate interest to expect much more,
after the much already done, on the other side, he stood up,
almost alone, to the arduous labor and heavy expenditure of
editor and lecturer. The Garrison party, to which he still
adhered, did not want a _colored_ newspaper--there was an odor of
_caste_ about it; the Liberty party could hardly be expected to
give warm support to a man who smote their principles as with a
hammer; and the wide gulf which separated the free colored people
from the Garrisonians, also separated them from their brother,
Frederick Douglass.

The arduous nature of his labors, from the date of the
establishment of his paper, may be estimated by the fact, that
anti-slavery papers in the United States, even while organs of,
and when supported by, anti-slavery parties, have, with a single
exception, failed to pay expenses. Mr. Douglass has maintained,
and does maintain, his paper without the support of any party,
and even in the teeth of the opposition of those from whom he had
reason to expect counsel and encouragement. He has been
compelled, at one and the same time, and almost constantly,
during the past seven years, to contribute matter to its columns
as editor, and to raise funds for its support as lecturer. It is
within bounds to say, that he has expended twelve thousand
dollars of his own hard earned money, in publishing this paper, a
larger sum than has been contributed by any one individual for
the general advancement of the colored people. There had been
many other papers published and edited by colored men, beginning
as far back as <13>1827, when the Rev. Samuel E. Cornish and John
B. Russworm (a graduate of Bowdoin college, and afterward
Governor of Cape Palmas) published the _Freedom's Journal_, in
New York City; probably not less than one hundred newspaper
enterprises have been started in the United States, by free
colored men, born free, and some of them of liberal education and
fair talents for this work; but, one after another, they have
fallen through, although, in several instances, anti-slavery
friends contributed to their support.[3] It had almost been
given up, as an impracticable thing, to maintain a colored
newspaper, when Mr. Douglass, with fewest early advantages of all
his competitors, essayed, and has proved the thing perfectly
practicable, and, moreover, of great public benefit. This paper,
in addition to its power in holding up the hands of those to whom
it is especially devoted, also affords irrefutable evidence of
the justice, safety and practicability of Immediate Emancipation;
it further proves the immense loss which slavery inflicts on the
land while it dooms such energies as his to the hereditary
degradation of slavery.

It has been said in this Introduction, that Mr. Douglass had
raised himself by his own efforts to the highest position in
society. As a successful editor, in our land, he occupies this
position. Our editors rule the land, and he is one of them. As
an orator and thinker, his position is equally high, in the
opinion of his countrymen. If a stranger in the United States
would seek its most distinguished men--the movers of public
opinion--he will find their names mentioned, and their movements
chronicled, under the head of "BY MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH, in the
daily papers. The keen caterers for the public attention, set
down, in this column, such men only as have won high mark in the
public esteem. During the past winter--1854-5--very frequent
mention of Frederick Douglass was made under this head in the
daily papers; his name glided as often--this week from Chicago,
next

[3] Mr. Stephen Myers, of Albany, deserves mention as one of the
most persevering among the colored editorial fraternity.

<14>week from Boston--over the lightning wires, as the name of
any other man, of whatever note. To no man did the people more
widely nor more earnestly say, _"Tell me thy thought!"_ And,
somehow or other, revolution seemed to follow in his wake. His
were not the mere words of eloquence which Kossuth speaks of,
that delight the ear and then pass away. No! They were _work_-
able, _do_-able words, that brought forth fruits in the
revolution in Illinois, and in the passage of the franchise
resolutions by the Assembly of New York.

And the secret of his power, what is it? He is a Representative
American man--a type of his countrymen. Naturalists tell us that
a full grown man is a resultant or representative of all animated
nature on this globe; beginning with the early embryo state, then
representing the lowest forms of organic life,[4] and passing
through every subordinate grade or type, until he reaches the
last and highest--manhood. In like manner, and to the fullest
extent, has Frederick Douglass passed through every gradation of
rank comprised in our national make-up, and bears upon his person
and upon his soul every thing that is American. And he has not
only full sympathy with every thing American; his proclivity or
bent, to active toil and visible progress, are in the strictly
national direction, delighting to outstrip "all creation."

Nor have the natural gifts, already named as his, lost anything
by his severe training. When unexcited, his mental processes are
probably slow, but singularly clear in perception, and wide in
vision, the unfailing memory bringing up all the facts in their
every aspect; incongruities he lays hold of incontinently, and
holds up on the edge of his keen and telling wit. But this wit
never descends to frivolity; it is rigidly in the keeping of his
truthful common sense, and always used in illustration or proof
of some point which could not so readily be reached any other
way. "Beware of a Yankee when he is feeding," is a shaft that
strikes home

[4] The German physiologists have even discovered vegetable
matter--starch--in the human body. See _Med. Chirurgical Rev_.,
Oct., 1854, p. 339.

<15>in a matter never so laid bare by satire before. "The
Garrisonian views of disunion, if carried to a successful issue,
would only place the people of the north in the same relation to
American slavery which they now bear to the slavery of Cuba or
the Brazils," is a statement, in a few words, which contains the
result and the evidence of an argument which might cover pages,
but could not carry stronger conviction, nor be stated in less
pregnable form. In proof of this, I may say, that having been
submitted to the attention of the Garrisonians in print, in
March, it was repeated before them at their business meeting in
May--the platform, _par excellence_, on which they invite free
fight, _a l'outrance_, to all comers. It was given out in the
clear, ringing tones, wherewith the hall of shields was wont to
resound of old, yet neither Garrison, nor Phillips, nor May, nor
Remond, nor Foster, nor Burleigh, with his subtle steel of "the
ice brook's temper," ventured to break a lance upon it! The
doctrine of the dissolution of the Union, as a means for the
abolition of American slavery, was silenced upon the lips that
gave it birth, and in the presence of an array of defenders who
compose the keenest intellects in the land.

_"The man who is right is a majority"_ is an aphorism struck out
by Mr. Douglass in that great gathering of the friends of
freedom, at Pittsburgh, in 1852, where he towered among the
highest, because, with abilities inferior to none, and moved more
deeply than any, there was neither policy nor party to trammel
the outpourings of his soul. Thus we find, opposed to all
disadvantages which a black man in the United States labors and
struggles under, is this one vantage ground--when the chance
comes, and the audience where he may have a say, he stands forth
the freest, most deeply moved and most earnest of all men.

It has been said of Mr. Douglass, that his descriptive and
declamatory powers, admitted to be of the very highest order,
take precedence of his logical force. Whilst the schools might
have trained him to the exhibition of the formulas of deductive
<16>logic, nature and circumstances forced him into the exercise
of the higher faculties required by induction. The first ninety
pages of this "Life in Bondage," afford specimens of observing,
comparing, and careful classifying, of such superior character,
that it is difficult to believe them the results of a child's
thinking; he questions the earth, and the children and the slaves
around him again and again, and finally looks to _"God in the
sky"_ for the why and the wherefore of the unnatural thing,
slavery. _"Yes, if indeed thou art, wherefore dost thou suffer
us to be slain?"_ is the only prayer and worship of the God-
forsaken Dodos in the heart of Africa. Almost the same was his
prayer. One of his earliest observations was that white children
should know their ages, while the colored children were ignorant
of theirs; and the songs of the slaves grated on his inmost soul,
because a something told him that harmony in sound, and music of
the spirit, could not consociate with miserable degradation.

To such a mind, the ordinary processes of logical deduction are
like proving that two and two make four. Mastering the
intermediate steps by an intuitive glance, or recurring to them
as Ferguson resorted to geometry, it goes down to the deeper
relation of things, and brings out what may seem, to some, mere
statements, but which are new and brilliant generalizations, each
resting on a broad and stable basis. Thus, Chief Justice
Marshall gave his decisions, and then told Brother Story to look
up the authorities--and they never differed from him. Thus,
also, in his "Lecture on the Anti-Slavery Movement," delivered
before the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, Mr. Douglass
presents a mass of thought, which, without any showy display of
logic on his part, requires an exercise of the reasoning
faculties of the reader to keep pace with him. And his "Claims
of the Negro Ethnologically Considered," is full of new and fresh
thoughts on the dawning science of race-history.

If, as has been stated, his intellection is slow, when unexcited,
it is most prompt and rapid when he is thoroughly aroused.
<17>Memory, logic, wit, sarcasm, invective pathos and bold
imagery of rare structural beauty, well up as from a copious
fountain, yet each in its proper place, and contributing to form
a whole, grand in itself, yet complete in the minutest
proportions. It is most difficult to hedge him in a corner, for
his positions are taken so deliberately, that it is rare to find
a point in them undefended aforethought. Professor Reason tells
me the following: "On a recent visit of a public nature, to
Philadelphia, and in a meeting composed mostly of his colored
brethren, Mr. Douglass proposed a comparison of views in the
matters of the relations and duties of `our people;' he holding
that prejudice was the result of condition, and could be
conquered by the efforts of the degraded themselves. A gentleman
present, distinguished for logical acumen and subtlety, and who
had devoted no small portion of the last twenty-five years to the
study and elucidation of this very question, held the opposite
view, that prejudice is innate and unconquerable. He terminated
a series of well dove-tailed, Socratic questions to Mr. Douglass,
with the following: `If the legislature at Harrisburgh should
awaken, to-morrow morning, and find each man's skin turned black
and his hair woolly, what could they do to remove prejudice?'
`Immediately pass laws entitling black men to all civil,
political and social privileges,' was the instant reply--and the
questioning ceased."

The most remarkable mental phenomenon in Mr. Douglass, is his
style in writing and speaking. In March, 1855, he delivered an
address in the assembly chamber before the members of the
legislature of the state of New York. An eye witness[5]
describes the crowded and most intelligent audience, and their
rapt attention to the speaker, as the grandest scene he ever
witnessed in the capitol. Among those whose eyes were riveted on
the speaker full two hours and a half, were Thurlow Weed and
Lieutenant Governor Raymond; the latter, at the conclusion of the
address, exclaimed to a friend, "I would give twenty thousand
dollars,

[5] Mr. Wm. H. Topp, of Albany.

<18>if I could deliver that address in that manner." Mr. Raymond
is a first class graduate of Dartmouth, a rising politician,
ranking foremost in the legislature; of course, his ideal of
oratory must be of the most polished and finished description.

The style of Mr. Douglass in writing, is to me an intellectual
puzzle. The strength, affluence and terseness may easily be
accounted for, because the style of a man is the man; but how are
we to account for that rare polish in his style of writing,
which, most critically examined, seems the result of careful
early culture among the best classics of our language; it equals
if it does not surpass the style of Hugh Miller, which was the
wonder of the British literary public, until he unraveled the
mystery in the most interesting of autobiographies. But
Frederick Douglass was still calking the seams of Baltimore
clippers, and had only written a "pass," at the age when Miller's
style was already formed.

I asked William Whipper, of Pennsylvania, the gentleman alluded
to above, whether he thought Mr. Douglass's power inherited from
the Negroid, or from what is called the Caucasian side of his
make up? After some reflection, he frankly answered, "I must
admit, although sorry to do so, that the Caucasian predominates."
At that time, I almost agreed with him; but, facts narrated in
the first part of this work, throw a different light on this
interesting question.

We are left in the dark as to who was the paternal ancestor of
our author; a fact which generally holds good of the Romuluses
and Remuses who are to inaugurate the new birth of our republic.
In the absence of testimony from the Caucasian side, we must see
what evidence is given on the other side of the house.

"My grandmother, though advanced in years, * * * was yet a woman
of power and spirit. She was marvelously straight in figure,
elastic and muscular." (p. 46.)

After describing her skill in constructing nets, her perseverance
in using them, and her wide-spread fame in the agricultural way
he adds, "It happened to her--as it will happen to any careful
<19>and thrifty person residing in an ignorant and improvident
neighborhood--to enjoy the reputation of being born to good
luck." And his grandmother was a black woman.

"My mother was tall, and finely proportioned; of deep black,
glossy complexion; had regular features; and among other slaves
was remarkably sedate in her manners." "Being a field hand, she
was obliged to walk twelve miles and return, between nightfall
and daybreak, to see her children" (p. 54.) "I shall never
forget the indescribable expression of her countenance when I
told her that I had had no food since morning. * * * There was
pity in her glance at me, and a fiery indignation at Aunt Katy at
the same time; * * * * she read Aunt Katy a lecture which she
never forgot." (p. 56.) "I learned after my mother's death,
that she could read, and that she was the _only_ one of all the
slaves and colored people in Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage.
How she acquired this knowledge, I know not, for Tuckahoe is the
last place in the world where she would be apt to find facilities
for learning." (p. 57.) "There is, in _Prichard's Natural
History of Man_, the head of a figure--on page 157--the features
of which so resemble those of my mother, that I often recur to it
with something of the feeling which I suppose others experience
when looking upon the pictures of dear departed ones." (p. 52.)

The head alluded to is copied from the statue of Ramses the
Great, an Egyptian king of the nineteenth dynasty. The authors
of the _Types of Mankind_ give a side view of the same on page
148, remarking that the profile, "like Napoleon's, is superbly
European!" The nearness of its resemblance to Mr. Douglass'
mother rests upon the evidence of his memory, and judging from
his almost marvelous feats of recollection of forms and outlines
recorded in this book, this testimony may be admitted.

These facts show that for his energy, perseverance, eloquence,
invective, sagacity, and wide sympathy, he is indebted to his
Negro blood. The very marvel of his style would seem to be a
development of that other marvel--how his mother learned to read.
<20>The versatility of talent which he wields, in common with
Dumas, Ira Aldridge, and Miss Greenfield, would seem to be the
result of the grafting of the Anglo-Saxon on good, original,
Negro stock. If the friends of "Caucasus" choose to claim, for
that region, what remains after this analysis--to wit:
combination--they are welcome to it. They will forgive me for
reminding them that the term "Caucasian" is dropped by recent
writers on Ethnology; for the people about Mount Caucasus, are,
and have ever been, Mongols. The great "white race" now seek
paternity, according to Dr. Pickering, in Arabia--"Arida Nutrix"
of the best breed of horses &c. Keep on, gentlemen; you will
find yourselves in Africa, by-and-by. The Egyptians, like the
Americans, were a _mixed race_, with some Negro blood circling
around the throne, as well as in the mud hovels.

This is the proper place to remark of our author, that the same
strong self-hood, which led him to measure strength with Mr.
Covey, and to wrench himself from the embrace of the
Garrisonians, and which has borne him through many resistances to
the personal indignities offered him as a colored man, sometimes
becomes a hyper-sensitiveness to such assaults as men of his mark
will meet with, on paper. Keen and unscrupulous opponents have
sought, and not unsuccessfully, to pierce him in this direction;
for well they know, that if assailed, he will smite back.

It is not without a feeling of pride, dear reader, that I present
you with this book. The son of a self-emancipated bond-woman, I
feel joy in introducing to you my brother, who has rent his own
bonds, and who, in his every relation--as a public man, as a
husband and as a father--is such as does honor to the land which
gave him birth. I shall place this book in the hands of the only
child spared me, bidding him to strive and emulate its noble
example. You may do likewise. It is an American book, for
Americans, in the fullest sense of the idea. It shows that the
worst of our institutions, in its worst aspect, cannot keep down
energy, truthfulness, and earnest struggle for the right. It
proves the <21>justice and practicability of Immediate
Emancipation. It shows that any man in our land, "no matter in
what battle his liberty may have been cloven down, * * * * no
matter what complexion an Indian or an African sun may have
burned upon him," not only may "stand forth redeemed and
disenthralled," but may also stand up a candidate for the highest
suffrage of a great people--the tribute of their honest, hearty
admiration. Reader, _Vale!

New York_ JAMES MCCUNE SMITH

CHAPTER I
_Childhood_

PLACE OF BIRTH--CHARACTER OF THE DISTRICT--TUCKAHOE--ORIGIN OF
THE NAME--CHOPTANK RIVER--TIME OF BIRTH--GENEALOGICAL TREES--MODE
OF COUNTING TIME--NAMES OF GRANDPARENTS--THEIR POSITION--
GRANDMOTHER ESPECIALLY ESTEEMED--"BORN TO GOOD LUCK--SWEET
POTATOES--SUPERSTITION--THE LOG CABIN--ITS CHARMS--SEPARATING
CHILDREN--MY AUNTS--THEIR NAMES--FIRST KNOWLEDGE OF BEING A
SLAVE--OLD MASTER--GRIEFS AND JOYS OF CHILDHOOD--COMPARATIVE
HAPPINESS OF THE SLAVE-BOY AND THE SON OF A SLAVEHOLDER.

In Talbot county, Eastern Shore, Maryland, near Easton, the
county town of that county, there is a small district of country,
thinly populated, and remarkable for nothing that I know of more
than for the worn-out, sandy, desert-like appearance of its soil,
the general dilapidation of its farms and fences, the indigent
and spiritless character of its inhabitants, and the prevalence
of ague and fever.

The name of this singularly unpromising and truly famine stricken
district is Tuckahoe, a name well known to all Marylanders, black
and white. It was given to this section of country probably, at
the first, merely in derision; or it may possibly have been
applied to it, as I have heard, because some one of its earlier
inhabitants had been guilty of the petty meanness of stealing a
hoe--or taking a hoe that did not belong to him. Eastern Shore
men usually pronounce the word _took_, as _tuck; Took-a-hoe_,
therefore, is, in Maryland parlance, _Tuckahoe_. But, whatever
may have been its origin--and about this I will not be
<26>positive--that name has stuck to the district in question;
and it is seldom mentioned but with contempt and derision, on
account of the barrenness of its soil, and the ignorance,
indolence, and poverty of its people. Decay and ruin are
everywhere visible, and the thin population of the place would
have quitted it long ago, but for the Choptank river, which runs
through it, from which they take abundance of shad and herring,
and plenty of ague and fever.

It was in this dull, flat, and unthrifty district, or
neighborhood, surrounded by a white population of the lowest
order, indolent and drunken to a proverb, and among slaves, who
seemed to ask, _"Oh! what's the use?"_ every time they lifted a
hoe, that I--without any fault of mine was born, and spent the
first years of my childhood.

The reader will pardon so much about the place of my birth, on
the score that it is always a fact of some importance to know
where a man is born, if, indeed, it be important to know anything
about him. In regard to the _time_ of my birth, I cannot be as
definite as I have been respecting the _place_. Nor, indeed, can
I impart much knowledge concerning my parents. Genealogical
trees do not flourish among slaves. A person of some consequence
here in the north, sometimes designated _father_, is literally
abolished in slave law and slave practice. It is only once in a
while that an exception is found to this statement. I never met
with a slave who could tell me how old he was. Few slave-mothers
know anything of the months of the year, nor of the days of the
month. They keep no family records, with marriages, births, and
deaths. They measure the ages of their children by spring time,
winter time, harvest time, planting time, and the like; but these
soon become undistinguishable and forgotten. Like other slaves,
I cannot tell how old I am. This destitution was among my
earliest troubles. I learned when I grew up, that my master--and
this is the case with masters generally--allowed no questions to
be put to him, by which a slave might learn his <27
GRANDPARENTS>age. Such questions deemed evidence of impatience,
and even of impudent curiosity. From certain events, however,
the dates of which I have since learned, I suppose myself to have
been born about the year 1817.

The first experience of life with me that I now remember--and I
remember it but hazily--began in the family of my grandmother and
grandfather. Betsey and Isaac Baily. They were quite advanced
in life, and had long lived on the spot where they then resided.
They were considered old settlers in the neighborhood, and, from
certain circumstances, I infer that my grandmother, especially,
was held in high esteem, far higher than is the lot of most
colored persons in the slave states. She was a good nurse, and a
capital hand at making nets for catching shad and herring; and
these nets were in great demand, not only in Tuckahoe, but at
Denton and Hillsboro, neighboring villages. She was not only
good at making the nets, but was also somewhat famous for her
good fortune in taking the fishes referred to. I have known her
to be in the water half the day. Grandmother was likewise more
provident than most of her neighbors in the preservation of
seedling sweet potatoes, and it happened to her--as it will
happen to any careful and thrifty person residing in an ignorant
and improvident community--to enjoy the reputation of having been
born to "good luck." Her "good luck" was owing to the exceeding
care which she took in preventing the succulent root from getting
bruised in the digging, and in placing it beyond the reach of
frost, by actually burying it under the hearth of her cabin
during the winter months. In the time of planting sweet
potatoes, "Grandmother Betty," as she was familiarly called, was
sent for in all directions, simply to place the seedling potatoes
in the hills; for superstition had it, that if "Grandmamma Betty
but touches them at planting, they will be sure to grow and
flourish." This high reputation was full of advantage to her,
and to the children around her. Though Tuckahoe had but few of
the good things of <28>life, yet of such as it did possess
grandmother got a full share, in the way of presents. If good
potato crops came after her planting, she was not forgotten by
those for whom she planted; and as she was remembered by others,
so she remembered the hungry little ones around her.

The dwelling of my grandmother and grandfather had few
pretensions. It was a log hut, or cabin, built of clay, wood,
and straw. At a distance it resembled--though it was smaller,
less commodious and less substantial--the cabins erected in the
western states by the first settlers. To my child's eye,
however, it was a noble structure, admirably adapted to promote
the comforts and conveniences of its inmates. A few rough,
Virginia fence-rails, flung loosely over the rafters above,
answered the triple purpose of floors, ceilings, and bedsteads.
To be sure, this upper apartment was reached only by a ladder--
but what in the world for climbing could be better than a ladder?
To me, this ladder was really a high invention, and possessed a
sort of charm as I played with delight upon the rounds of it. In
this little hut there was a large family of children: I dare not
say how many. My grandmother--whether because too old for field
service, or because she had so faithfully discharged the duties
of her station in early life, I know not--enjoyed the high
privilege of living in a cabin, separate from the quarter, with
no other burden than her own support, and the necessary care of
the little children, imposed. She evidently esteemed it a great
fortune to live so. The children were not her own, but her
grandchildren--the children of her daughters. She took delight
in having them around her, and in attending to their few wants.
The practice of separating children from their mother, and hiring
the latter out at distances too great to admit of their meeting,
except at long intervals, is a marked feature of the cruelty and
barbarity of the slave system. But it is in harmony with the
grand aim of slavery, which, always and everywhere, is to reduce
man to a level with the brute. It is a successful method of
obliterating <29 "OLD MASTER">from the mind and heart of the
slave, all just ideas of the sacredness of _the family_, as an
institution.

Most of the children, however, in this instance, being the
children of my grandmother's daughters, the notions of family,
and the reciprocal duties and benefits of the relation, had a
better chance of being understood than where children are
placed--as they often are in the hands of strangers, who have no
care for them, apart from the wishes of their masters. The
daughters of my grandmother were five in number. Their names
were JENNY, ESTHER, MILLY, PRISCILLA, and HARRIET. The daughter
last named was my mother, of whom the reader shall learn more by-
and-by.

Living here, with my dear old grandmother and grandfather, it was
a long time before I knew myself to be _a slave_. I knew many
other things before I knew that. Grandmother and grandfather
were the greatest people in the world to me; and being with them
so snugly in their own little cabin--I supposed it be their own--
knowing no higher authority over me or the other children than
the authority of grandmamma, for a time there was nothing to
disturb me; but, as I grew larger and older, I learned by degrees
the sad fact, that the "little hut," and the lot on which it
stood, belonged not to my dear old grandparents, but to some
person who lived a great distance off, and who was called, by
grandmother, "OLD MASTER." I further learned the sadder fact,
that not only the house and lot, but that grandmother herself,
(grandfather was free,) and all the little children around her,
belonged to this mysterious personage, called by grandmother,
with every mark of reverence, "Old Master." Thus early did
clouds and shadows begin to fall upon my path. Once on the
track--troubles never come singly--I was not long in finding out
another fact, still more grievous to my childish heart. I was
told that this "old master," whose name seemed ever to be
mentioned with fear and shuddering, only allowed the children to
live with grandmother for a limited time, and that in fact as
soon <30>as they were big enough, they were promptly taken away,
to live with the said "old master." These were distressing
revelations indeed; and though I was quite too young to
comprehend the full import of the intelligence, and mostly spent
my childhood days in gleesome sports with the other children, a
shade of disquiet rested upon me.

The absolute power of this distant "old master" had touched my
young spirit with but the point of its cold, cruel iron, and left
me something to brood over after the play and in moments of
repose. Grandmammy was, indeed, at that time, all the world to
me; and the thought of being separated from her, in any
considerable time, was more than an unwelcome intruder. It was
intolerable.

Children have their sorrows as well as men and women; and it
would be well to remember this in our dealings with them. SLAVE-
children _are_ children, and prove no exceptions to the general
rule. The liability to be separated from my grandmother, seldom
or never to see her again, haunted me. I dreaded the thought of
going to live with that mysterious "old master," whose name I
never heard mentioned with affection, but always with fear. I
look back to this as among the heaviest of my childhood's
sorrows. My grandmother! my grandmother! and the little hut, and
the joyous circle under her care, but especially _she_, who made
us sorry when she left us but for an hour, and glad on her
return,--how could I leave her and the good old home?

But the sorrows of childhood, like the pleasures of after life,
are transient. It is not even within the power of slavery to
write _indelible_ sorrow, at a single dash, over the heart of a
child.

_The tear down childhood's cheek that flows,
Is like the dew-drop on the rose--
When next the summer breeze comes by,
And waves the bush--the flower is dry_.

There is, after all, but little difference in the measure of
contentment felt by the slave-child neglected and the
slaveholder's <31 COMPARATIVE HAPPINESS>child cared for and
petted. The spirit of the All Just mercifully holds the balance
for the young.

The slaveholder, having nothing to fear from impotent childhood,
easily affords to refrain from cruel inflictions; and if cold and
hunger do not pierce the tender frame, the first seven or eight
years of the slave-boy's life are about as full of sweet content
as those of the most favored and petted _white_ children of the
slaveholder. The slave-boy escapes many troubles which befall
and vex his white brother. He seldom has to listen to lectures
on propriety of behavior, or on anything else. He is never
chided for handling his little knife and fork improperly or
awkwardly, for he uses none. He is never reprimanded for soiling
the table-cloth, for he takes his meals on the clay floor. He
never has the misfortune, in his games or sports, of soiling or
tearing his clothes, for he has almost none to soil or tear. He
is never expected to act like a nice little gentleman, for he is
only a rude little slave. Thus, freed from all restraint, the
slave-boy can be, in his life and conduct, a genuine boy, doing
whatever his boyish nature suggests; enacting, by turns, all the
strange antics and freaks of horses, dogs, pigs, and barn-door
fowls, without in any manner compromising his dignity, or
incurring reproach of any sort. He literally runs wild; has no
pretty little verses to learn in the nursery; no nice little
speeches to make for aunts, uncles, or cousins, to show how smart
he is; and, if he can only manage to keep out of the way of the
heavy feet and fists of the older slave boys, he may trot on, in
his joyous and roguish tricks, as happy as any little heathen
under the palm trees of Africa. To be sure, he is occasionally
reminded, when he stumbles in the path of his master--and this he
early learns to avoid--that he is eating his _"white bread,"_ and
that he will be made to _"see sights"_ by-and-by. The threat is
soon forgotten; the shadow soon passes, and our sable boy
continues to roll in the dust, or play in the mud, as bests suits
him, and in the veriest freedom. If he feels uncomfortable, from
mud or from dust, the coast is clear; he can plunge into <32>the
river or the pond, without the ceremony of undressing, or the
fear of wetting his clothes; his little tow-linen shirt--for that
is all he has on--is easily dried; and it needed ablution as much
as did his skin. His food is of the coarsest kind, consisting
for the most part of cornmeal mush, which often finds it way from
the wooden tray to his mouth in an oyster shell. His days, when
the weather is warm, are spent in the pure, open air, and in the
bright sunshine. He always sleeps in airy apartments; he seldom
has to take powders, or to be paid to swallow pretty little
sugar-coated pills, to cleanse his blood, or to quicken his
appetite. He eats no candies; gets no lumps of loaf sugar;
always relishes his food; cries but little, for nobody cares for
his crying; learns to esteem his bruises but slight, because
others so esteem them. In a word, he is, for the most part of
the first eight years of his life, a spirited, joyous,
uproarious, and happy boy, upon whom troubles fall only like
water on a duck's back. And such a boy, so far as I can now
remember, was the boy whose life in slavery I am now narrating.

CHAPTER II
_Removed from My First Home_

THE NAME "OLD MASTER" A TERROR--COLONEL LLOYD'S PLANTATION--WYE
RIVER--WHENCE ITS NAME--POSITION OF THE LLOYDS--HOME ATTRACTION--
MEET OFFERING--JOURNEY FROM TUCKAHOE TO WYE RIVER--SCENE ON
REACHING OLD MASTER'S--DEPARTURE OF GRANDMOTHER--STRANGE MEETING
OF SISTERS AND BROTHERS--REFUSAL TO BE COMFORTED--SWEET SLEEP.

That mysterious individual referred to in the first chapter as an
object of terror among the inhabitants of our little cabin, under
the ominous title of "old master," was really a man of some
consequence. He owned several farms in Tuckahoe; was the chief
clerk and butler on the home plantation of Col. Edward Lloyd; had
overseers on his own farms; and gave directions to overseers on
the farms belonging to Col. Lloyd. This plantation is situated
on Wye river--the river receiving its name, doubtless, from
Wales, where the Lloyds originated. They (the Lloyds) are an old
and honored family in Maryland, exceedingly wealthy. The home
plantation, where they have resided, perhaps for a century or
more, is one of the largest, most fertile, and best appointed, in
the state.

About this plantation, and about that queer old master--who must
be something more than a man, and something worse than an angel--
the reader will easily imagine that I was not only curious, but
eager, to know all that could be known. Unhappily for me,
however, all the information I could get concerning him increased
my great dread of being carried thither--of being <34>separated
from and deprived of the protection of my grandmother and
grandfather. It was, evidently, a great thing to go to Col.
Lloyd's; and I was not without a little curiosity to see the
place; but no amount of coaxing could induce in me the wish to
remain there. The fact is, such was my dread of leaving the
little cabin, that I wished to remain little forever, for I knew
the taller I grew the shorter my stay. The old cabin, with its
rail floor and rail bedsteads upstairs, and its clay floor
downstairs, and its dirt chimney, and windowless sides, and that
most curious piece of workmanship dug in front of the fireplace,
beneath which grandmammy placed the sweet potatoes to keep them
from the frost, was MY HOME--the only home I ever had; and I
loved it, and all connected with it. The old fences around it,
and the stumps in the edge of the woods near it, and the
squirrels that ran, skipped, and played upon them, were objects
of interest and affection. There, too, right at the side of the
hut, stood the old well, with its stately and skyward-pointing
beam, so aptly placed between the limbs of what had once been a
tree, and so nicely balanced that I could move it up and down
with only one hand, and could get a drink myself without calling
for help. Where else in the world could such a well be found,
and where could such another home be met with? Nor were these
all the attractions of the place. Down in a little valley, not
far from grandmammy's cabin, stood Mr. Lee's mill, where the
people came often in large numbers to get their corn ground. It
was a watermill; and I never shall be able to tell the many
things thought and felt, while I sat on the bank and watched that
mill, and the turning of that ponderous wheel. The mill-pond,
too, had its charms; and with my pinhook, and thread line, I
could get _nibbles_, if I could catch no fish. But, in all my
sports and plays, and in spite of them, there would,
occasionally, come the painful foreboding that I was not long to
remain there, and that I must soon be called away to the home of
old master.

I was A SLAVE--born a slave and though the fact was in <35
DEPARTURE FROM TUCKAHOE>comprehensible to me, it conveyed to my
mind a sense of my entire dependence on the will of _somebody_ I
had never seen; and, from some cause or other, I had been made to
fear this somebody above all else on earth. Born for another's
benefit, as the _firstling_ of the cabin flock I was soon to be
selected as a meet offering to the fearful and inexorable
_demigod_, whose huge image on so many occasions haunted my
childhood's imagination. When the time of my departure was
decided upon, my grandmother, knowing my fears, and in pity for
them, kindly kept me ignorant of the dreaded event about to
transpire. Up to the morning (a beautiful summer morning) when
we were to start, and, indeed, during the whole journey--a
journey which, child as I was, I remember as well as if it were
yesterday--she kept the sad fact hidden from me. This reserve
was necessary; for, could I have known all, I should have given
grandmother some trouble in getting me started. As it was, I was
helpless, and she--dear woman!--led me along by the hand,
resisting, with the reserve and solemnity of a priestess, all my
inquiring looks to the last.

The distance from Tuckahoe to Wye river--where my old master
lived--was full twelve miles, and the walk was quite a severe
test of the endurance of my young legs. The journey would have
proved too severe for me, but that my dear old grandmother--
blessings on her memory!--afforded occasional relief by "toting"
me (as Marylanders have it) on her shoulder. My grandmother,
though advanced in years--as was evident from more than one gray
hair, which peeped from between the ample and graceful folds of
her newly-ironed bandana turban--was yet a woman of power and
spirit. She was marvelously straight in figure, elastic, and
muscular. I seemed hardly to be a burden to her. She would have
"toted" me farther, but that I felt myself too much of a man to
allow it, and insisted on walking. Releasing dear grandmamma
from carrying me, did not make me altogether independent of her,
when we happened to pass through portions of the somber woods
which lay between Tuckahoe and <36>Wye river. She often found me
increasing the energy of my grip, and holding her clothing, lest
something should come out of the woods and eat me up. Several
old logs and stumps imposed upon me, and got themselves taken for
wild beasts. I could see their legs, eyes, and ears, or I could
see something like eyes, legs, and ears, till I got close enough
to them to see that the eyes were knots, washed white with rain,
and the legs were broken limbs, and the ears, only ears owing to
the point from which they were seen. Thus early I learned that
the point from which a thing is viewed is of some importance.

As the day advanced the heat increased; and it was not until the
afternoon that we reached the much dreaded end of the journey. I
found myself in the midst of a group of children of many colors;
black, brown, copper colored, and nearly white. I had not seen
so many children before. Great houses loomed up in different
directions, and a great many men and women were at work in the
fields. All this hurry, noise, and singing was very different
from the stillness of Tuckahoe. As a new comer, I was an object
of special interest; and, after laughing and yelling around me,
and playing all sorts of wild tricks, they (the children) asked
me to go out and play with them. This I refused to do,
preferring to stay with grandmamma. I could not help feeling
that our being there boded no good to me. Grandmamma looked sad.
She was soon to lose another object of affection, as she had lost
many before. I knew she was unhappy, and the shadow fell from
her brow on me, though I knew not the cause.

All suspense, however, must have an end; and the end of mine, in
this instance, was at hand. Affectionately patting me on the
head, and exhorting me to be a good boy, grandmamma told me to go
and play with the little children. "They are kin to you," said
she; "go and play with them." Among a number of cousins were
Phil, Tom, Steve, and Jerry, Nance and Betty.

Grandmother pointed out my brother PERRY, my sister SARAH, and my
sister ELIZA, who stood in the group. I had never seen <37
BROTHERS AND SISTERS>my brother nor my sisters before; and,
though I had sometimes heard of them, and felt a curious interest
in them, I really did not understand what they were to me, or I
to them. We were brothers and sisters, but what of that? Why
should they be attached to me, or I to them? Brothers and
sisters we were by blood; but _slavery_ had made us strangers. I
heard the words brother and sisters, and knew they must mean
something; but slavery had robbed these terms of their true
meaning. The experience through which I was passing, they had
passed through before. They had already been initiated into the
mysteries of old master's domicile, and they seemed to look upon
me with a certain degree of compassion; but my heart clave to my
grandmother. Think it not strange, dear reader, that so little
sympathy of feeling existed between us. The conditions of
brotherly and sisterly feeling were wanting--we had never nestled
and played together. My poor mother, like many other slave-
women, had many _children_, but NO FAMILY! The domestic hearth,
with its holy lessons and precious endearments, is abolished in
the case of a slave-mother and her children. "Little children,
love one another," are words seldom heard in a slave cabin.

I really wanted to play with my brother and sisters, but they
were strangers to me, and I was full of fear that grandmother
might leave without taking me with her. Entreated to do so,
however, and that, too, by my dear grandmother, I went to the
back part of the house, to play with them and the other children.
_Play_, however, I did not, but stood with my back against the
wall, witnessing the playing of the others. At last, while
standing there, one of the children, who had been in the kitchen,
ran up to me, in a sort of roguish glee, exclaiming, "Fed, Fed!
grandmammy gone! grandmammy gone!" I could not believe it; yet,
fearing the worst, I ran into the kitchen, to see for myself, and
found it even so. Grandmammy had indeed gone, and was now far
away, "clean" out of sight. I need not tell all that happened
now. Almost heart-broken at the discovery, I fell upon the
ground, and <38>wept a boy's bitter tears, refusing to be
comforted. My brother and sisters came around me, and said,
"Don't cry," and gave me peaches and pears, but I flung them
away, and refused all their kindly advances. I had never been
deceived before; and I felt not only grieved at parting--as I
supposed forever--with my grandmother, but indignant that a trick
had been played upon me in a matter so serious.

It was now late in the afternoon. The day had been an exciting
and wearisome one, and I knew not how or where, but I suppose I
sobbed myself to sleep. There is a healing in the angel wing of
sleep, even for the slave-boy; and its balm was never more
welcome to any wounded soul than it was to mine, the first night
I spent at the domicile of old master. The reader may be
surprised that I narrate so minutely an incident apparently so
trivial, and which must have occurred when I was not more than
seven years old; but as I wish to give a faithful history of my
experience in slavery, I cannot withhold a circumstance which, at
the time, affected me so deeply. Besides, this was, in fact, my
first introduction to the realities of slavery.

CHAPTER III
_Parentage_

MY FATHER SHROUDED IN MYSTERY--MY MOTHER--HER PERSONAL
APPEARANCE--INTERFERENCE OF SLAVERY WITH THE NATURAL AFFECTIONS
OF MOTHER AND CHILDREN--SITUATION OF MY MOTHER--HER NIGHTLY
VISITS TO HER BOY--STRIKING INCIDENT--HER DEATH--HER PLACE OF
BURIAL.

If the reader will now be kind enough to allow me time to grow
bigger, and afford me an opportunity for my experience to become
greater, I will tell him something, by-and-by, of slave life, as
I saw, felt, and heard it, on Col. Edward Lloyd's plantation, and
at the house of old master, where I had now, despite of myself,
most suddenly, but not unexpectedly, been dropped. Meanwhile, I
will redeem my promise to say something more of my dear mother.

I say nothing of _father_, for he is shrouded in a mystery I have
never been able to penetrate. Slavery does away with fathers, as
it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either
fathers or families, and its laws do not recognize their
existence in the social arrangements of the plantation. When
they _do_ exist, they are not the outgrowths of slavery, but are
antagonistic to that system. The order of civilization is
reversed here. The name of the child is not expected to be that
of its father, and his condition does not necessarily affect that
of the child. He may be the slave of Mr. Tilgman; and his child,
when born, may be the slave of Mr. Gross. He may be a _freeman;_
and yet his child may be a _chattel_. He may be white, glorying
in the purity of his Anglo-<40>Saxon blood; and his child may be
ranked with the blackest slaves. Indeed, he _may_ be, and often
_is_, master and father to the same child. He can be father
without being a husband, and may sell his child without incurring
reproach, if the child be by a woman in whose veins courses one
thirty-second part of African blood. My father was a white man,
or nearly white. It was sometimes whispered that my master was
my father.

But to return, or rather, to begin. My knowledge of my mother is
very scanty, but very distinct. Her personal appearance and
bearing are ineffaceably stamped upon my memory. She was tall,
and finely proportioned; of deep black, glossy complexion; had
regular features, and, among the other slaves, was remarkably
sedate in her manners. There is in _Prichard's Natural History
of Man_, the head of a figure--on page 157--the features of which
so resemble those of my mother, that I often recur to it with
something of the feeling which I suppose others experience when
looking upon the pictures of dear departed ones.

Yet I cannot say that I was very deeply attached to my mother;
certainly not so deeply as I should have been had our relations
in childhood been different. We were separated, according to the
common custom, when I was but an infant, and, of course, before I
knew my mother from any one else.

The germs of affection with which the Almighty, in his wisdom and
mercy, arms the hopeless infant against the ills and vicissitudes
of his lot, had been directed in their growth toward that loving
old grandmother, whose gentle hand and kind deportment it was in
the first effort of my infantile understanding to comprehend and
appreciate. Accordingly, the tenderest affection which a
beneficent Father allows, as a partial compensation to the mother
for the pains and lacerations of her heart, incident to the
maternal relation, was, in my case, diverted from its true and
natural object, by the envious, greedy, and treacherous hand of
slavery. The slave-mother can be spared long enough from <41 MY
MOTHER>the field to endure all the bitterness of a mother's
anguish, when it adds another name to a master's ledger, but
_not_ long enough to receive the joyous reward afforded by the
intelligent smiles of her child. I never think of this terrible
interference of slavery with my infantile affections, and its
diverting them from their natural course, without feelings to
which I can give no adequate expression.

I do not remember to have seen my mother at my grandmother's at
any time. I remember her only in her visits to me at Col.
Lloyd's plantation, and in the kitchen of my old master. Her
visits to me there were few in number, brief in duration, and
mostly made in the night. The pains she took, and the toil she
endured, to see me, tells me that a true mother's heart was hers,
and that slavery had difficulty in paralyzing it with unmotherly
indifference.

My mother was hired out to a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve
miles from old master's, and, being a field hand, she seldom had
leisure, by day, for the performance of the journey. The nights
and the distance were both obstacles to her visits. She was
obliged to walk, unless chance flung into her way an opportunity
to ride; and the latter was sometimes her good luck. But she
always had to walk one way or the other. It was a greater luxury
than slavery could afford, to allow a black slave-mother a horse
or a mule, upon which to travel twenty-four miles, when she could
walk the distance. Besides, it is deemed a foolish whim for a
slave-mother to manifest concern to see her children, and, in one
point of view, the case is made out--she can do nothing for them.
She has no control over them; the master is even more than the
mother, in all matters touching the fate of her child. Why,
then, should she give herself any concern? She has no
responsibility. Such is the reasoning, and such the practice.
The iron rule of the plantation, always passionately and
violently enforced in that neighborhood, makes flogging the
penalty of <42>failing to be in the field before sunrise in the
morning, unless special permission be given to the absenting
slave. "I went to see my child," is no excuse to the ear or
heart of the overseer.

One of the visits of my mother to me, while at Col. Lloyd's, I
remember very vividly, as affording a bright gleam of a mother's
love, and the earnestness of a mother's care.

"I had on that day offended "Aunt Katy," (called "Aunt" by way of
respect,) the cook of old master's establishment. I do not now
remember the nature of my offense in this instance, for my
offenses were numerous in that quarter, greatly depending,
however, upon the mood of Aunt Katy, as to their heinousness; but
she had adopted, that day, her favorite mode of punishing me,
namely, making me go without food all day--that is, from after
breakfast. The first hour or two after dinner, I succeeded
pretty well in keeping up my spirits; but though I made an
excellent stand against the foe, and fought bravely during the
afternoon, I knew I must be conquered at last, unless I got the
accustomed reenforcement of a slice of corn bread, at sundown.
Sundown came, but _no bread_, and, in its stead, their came the
threat, with a scowl well suited to its terrible import, that she
"meant to _starve the life out of me!"_ Brandishing her knife,
she chopped off the heavy slices for the other children, and put
the loaf away, muttering, all the while, her savage designs upon
myself. Against this disappointment, for I was expecting that
her heart would relent at last, I made an extra effort to
maintain my dignity; but when I saw all the other children around
me with merry and satisfied faces, I could stand it no longer. I
went out behind the house, and cried like a fine fellow! When
tired of this, I returned to the kitchen, sat by the fire, and
brooded over my hard lot. I was too hungry to sleep. While I
sat in the corner, I caught sight of an ear of Indian corn on an
upper shelf of the kitchen. I watched my chance, and got it,
and, shelling off a few grains, I put it back again. The grains
in my hand, I quickly put in some ashes, and covered them with
embers, to roast them. All this I <43 "AUNT KATY">did at the
risk of getting a brutual thumping, for Aunt Katy could beat, as
well as starve me. My corn was not long in roasting, and, with
my keen appetite, it did not matter even if the grains were not
exactly done. I eagerly pulled them out, and placed them on my
stool, in a clever little pile. Just as I began to help myself
to my very dry meal, in came my dear mother. And now, dear
reader, a scene occurred which was altogether worth beholding,
and to me it was instructive as well as interesting. The
friendless and hungry boy, in his extremest need--and when he did
not dare to look for succor--found himself in the strong,
protecting arms of a mother; a mother who was, at the moment
(being endowed with high powers of manner as well as matter) more
than a match for all his enemies. I shall never forget the
indescribable expression of her countenance, when I told her that
I had had no food since morning; and that Aunt Katy said she
"meant to starve the life out of me." There was pity in her
glance at me, and a fiery indignation at Aunt Katy at the same
time; and, while she took the corn from me, and gave me a large
ginger cake, in its stead, she read Aunt Katy a lecture which she
never forgot. My mother threatened her with complaining to old
master in my behalf; for the latter, though harsh and cruel
himself, at times, did not sanction the meanness, injustice,
partiality and oppressions enacted by Aunt Katy in the kitchen.
That night I learned the fact, that I was, not only a child, but
_somebody's_ child. The "sweet cake" my mother gave me was in
the shape of a heart, with a rich, dark ring glazed upon the edge
of it. I was victorious, and well off for the moment; prouder,
on my mother's knee, than a king upon his throne. But my triumph
was short. I dropped off to sleep, and waked in the morning only
to find my mother gone, and myself left at the mercy of the sable
virago, dominant in my old master's kitchen, whose fiery wrath
was my constant dread.

I do not remember to have seen my mother after this occurrence.
Death soon ended the little communication that had <44>existed
between us; and with it, I believe, a life judging from her
weary, sad, down-cast countenance and mute demeanor--full of
heartfelt sorrow. I was not allowed to visit her during any part
of her long illness; nor did I see her for a long time before she
was taken ill and died. The heartless and ghastly form of
_slavery_ rises between mother and child, even at the bed of
death. The mother, at the verge of the grave, may not gather her
children, to impart to them her holy admonitions, and invoke for
them her dying benediction. The bond-woman lives as a slave, and
is left to die as a beast; often with fewer attentions than are
paid to a favorite horse. Scenes of sacred tenderness, around
the death-bed, never forgotten, and which often arrest the
vicious and confirm the virtuous during life, must be looked for
among the free, though they sometimes occur among the slaves. It
has been a life-long, standing grief to me, that I knew so little
of my mother; and that I was so early separated from her. The
counsels of her love must have been beneficial to me. The side
view of her face is imaged on my memory, and I take few steps in
life, without feeling her presence; but the image is mute, and I
have no striking words of her's treasured up.

I learned, after my mother's death, that she could read, and that
she was the _only_ one of all the slaves and colored people in
Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage. How she acquired this
knowledge, I know not, for Tuckahoe is the last place in the
world where she would be apt to find facilities for learning. I
can, therefore, fondly and proudly ascribe to her an earnest love
of knowledge. That a "field hand" should learn to read, in any
slave state, is remarkable; but the achievement of my mother,
considering the place, was very extraordinary; and, in view of
that fact, I am quite willing, and even happy, to attribute any
love of letters I possess, and for which I have got--despite of
prejudices only too much credit, _not_ to my admitted Anglo-Saxon
paternity, but to the native genius of my sable, unprotected, and
uncultivated _mother_--a woman, who belonged to a race <45
PENALTY FOR HAVING A WHITE FATHER>whose mental endowments it is,
at present, fashionable to hold in disparagement and contempt.

Summoned away to her account, with the impassable gulf of slavery
between us during her entire illness, my mother died without
leaving me a single intimation of _who_ my father was. There was
a whisper, that my master was my father; yet it was only a
whisper, and I cannot say that I ever gave it credence. Indeed,
I now have reason to think he was not; nevertheless, the fact
remains, in all its glaring odiousness, that, by the laws of
slavery, children, in all cases, are reduced to the condition of
their mothers. This arrangement admits of the greatest license
to brutal slaveholders, and their profligate sons, brothers,
relations and friends, and gives to the pleasure of sin, the
additional attraction of profit. A whole volume might be written
on this single feature of slavery, as I have observed it.

One might imagine, that the children of such connections, would
fare better, in the hands of their masters, than other slaves.
The rule is quite the other way; and a very little reflection
will satisfy the reader that such is the case. A man who will
enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for
magnanimity. Men do not love those who remind them of their sins
unless they have a mind to repent--and the mulatto child's face
is a standing accusation against him who is master and father to
the child. What is still worse, perhaps, such a child is a
constant offense to the wife. She hates its very presence, and
when a slaveholding woman hates, she wants not means to give that
hate telling effect. Women--white women, I mean--are IDOLS at
the south, not WIVES, for the slave women are preferred in many
instances; and if these _idols_ but nod, or lift a finger, woe to
the poor victim: kicks, cuffs and stripes are sure to follow.
Masters are frequently compelled to sell this class of their
slaves, out of deference to the feelings of their white wives;
and shocking and scandalous as it may seem for a man to sell his
own blood to the traffickers in human flesh, it is often an act
of humanity <46>toward the slave-child to be thus removed from
his merciless tormentors.

It is not within the scope of the design of my simple story, to
comment upon every phase of slavery not within my experience as a
slave.

But, I may remark, that, if the lineal descendants of Ham are
only to be enslaved, according to the scriptures, slavery in this
country will soon become an unscriptural institution; for
thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who--like
myself--owe their existence to white fathers, and, most
frequently, to their masters, and master's sons. The slave-woman
is at the mercy of the fathers, sons or brothers of her master.
The thoughtful know the rest.

After what I have now said of the circumstances of my mother, and
my relations to her, the reader will not be surprised, nor be
disposed to censure me, when I tell but the simple truth, viz:
that I received the tidings of her death with no strong emotions
of sorrow for her, and with very little regret for myself on
account of her loss. I had to learn the value of my mother long
after her death, and by witnessing the devotion of other mothers
to their children.

There is not, beneath the sky, an enemy to filial affection so
destructive as slavery. It had made my brothers and sisters
strangers to me; it converted the mother that bore me, into a
myth; it shrouded my father in mystery, and left me without an
intelligible beginning in the world.

My mother died when I could not have been more than eight or nine
years old, on one of old master's farms in Tuckahoe, in the
neighborhood of Hillsborough. Her grave is, as the grave of the
dead at sea, unmarked, and without stone or stake.

CHAPTER IV
_A General Survey of the Slave Plantation_

ISOLATION OF LLOYD S PLANTATION--PUBLIC OPINION THERE NO
PROTECTION TO THE SLAVE--ABSOLUTE POWER OF THE OVERSEER--NATURAL
AND ARTIFICIAL CHARMS OF THE PLACE--ITS BUSINESS-LIKE
APPEARANCE--SUPERSTITION ABOUT THE BURIAL GROUND--GREAT IDEAS OF
COL. LLOYD--ETIQUETTE AMONG SLAVES--THE COMIC SLAVE DOCTOR--
PRAYING AND FLOGGING--OLD MASTER LOSING ITS TERRORS--HIS
BUSINESS--CHARACTER OF AUNT KATY--SUFFERINGS FROM HUNGER--OLD
MASTER'S HOME--JARGON OF THE PLANTATION--GUINEA SLAVES--MASTER
DANIEL--FAMILY OF COL. LLOYD--FAMILY OF CAPT. ANTHONY--HIS SOCIAL
POSITION--NOTIONS OF RANK AND STATION.

It is generally supposed that slavery, in the state of Maryland,
exists in its mildest form, and that it is totally divested of
those harsh and terrible peculiarities, which mark and
characterize the slave system, in the southern and south-western
states of the American union. The argument in favor of this
opinion, is the contiguity of the free states, and the exposed
condition of slavery in Maryland to the moral, religious and
humane sentiment of the free states.

I am not about to refute this argument, so far as it relates to
slavery in that state, generally; on the contrary, I am willing
to admit that, to this general point, the arguments is well
grounded. Public opinion is, indeed, an unfailing restraint upon
the cruelty and barbarity of masters, overseers, and slave-
drivers, whenever and wherever it can reach them; but there are
certain secluded and out-of-the-way places, even in the state of
Maryland, seldom visited by a single ray of healthy public
sentiment--<48>where slavery, wrapt in its own congenial,
midnight darkness, _can_, and _does_, develop all its malign and
shocking characteristics; where it can be indecent without shame,
cruel without shuddering, and murderous without apprehension or
fear of exposure.

Just such a secluded, dark, and out-of-the-way place, is the
"home plantation" of Col. Edward Lloyd, on the Eastern Shore,
Maryland. It is far away from all the great thoroughfares, and
is proximate to no town or village. There is neither school-
house, nor town-house in its neighborhood. The school-house is
unnecessary, for there are no children to go to school. The
children and grand-children of Col. Lloyd were taught in the
house, by a private tutor--a Mr. Page a tall, gaunt sapling of a
man, who did not speak a dozen words to a slave in a whole year.
The overseers' children go off somewhere to school; and they,
therefore, bring no foreign or dangerous influence from abroad,
to embarrass the natural operation of the slave system of the
place. Not even the mechanics--through whom there is an
occasional out-burst of honest and telling indignation, at
cruelty and wrong on other plantations--are white men, on this
plantation. Its whole public is made up of, and divided into,
three classes--SLAVEHOLDERS, SLAVES and OVERSEERS. Its
blacksmiths, wheelwrights, shoemakers, weavers, and coopers, are
slaves. Not even commerce, selfish and iron-hearted at it is,
and ready, as it ever is, to side with the strong against the
weak--the rich against the poor--is trusted or permitted within
its secluded precincts. Whether with a view of guarding against
the escape of its secrets, I know not, but it is a fact, the
every leaf and grain of the produce of this plantation, and those
of the neighboring farms belonging to Col. Lloyd, are transported
to Baltimore in Col. Lloyd's own vessels; every man and boy on
board of which--except the captain--are owned by him. In return,
everything brought to the plantation, comes through the same
channel. Thus, even the glimmering and unsteady light of trade,
which sometimes exerts a civilizing influence, is excluded from
this "tabooed" spot.
<49 SLAVES UNPROTECTED BY PUBLIC OPINION>

Nearly all the plantations or farms in the vicinity of the "home
plantation" of Col. Lloyd, belong to him; and those which do not,
are owned by personal friends of his, as deeply interested in
maintaining the slave system, in all its rigor, as Col. Lloyd
himself. Some of his neighbors are said to be even more
stringent than he. The Skinners, the Peakers, the Tilgmans, the
Lockermans, and the Gipsons, are in the same boat; being
slaveholding neighbors, they may have strengthened each other in
their iron rule. They are on intimate terms, and their interests
and tastes are identical.

Public opinion in such a quarter, the reader will see, is not
likely to very efficient in protecting the slave from cruelty.
On the contrary, it must increase and intensify his wrongs.
Public opinion seldom differs very widely from public practice.
To be a restraint upon cruelty and vice, public opinion must
emanate from a humane and virtuous community. To no such humane
and virtuous community, is Col. Lloyd's plantation exposed. That
plantation is a little nation of its own, having its own
language, its own rules, regulations and customs. The laws and
institutions of the state, apparently touch it nowhere. The
troubles arising here, are not settled by the civil power of the
state. The overseer is generally accuser, judge, jury, advocate
and executioner. The criminal is always dumb. The overseer
attends to all sides of a case.

There are no conflicting rights of property, for all the people
are owned by one man; and they can themselves own no property.
Religion and politics are alike excluded. One class of the
population is too high to be reached by the preacher; and the
other class is too low to be cared for by the preacher. The poor
have the gospel preached to them, in this neighborhood, only when
they are able to pay for it. The slaves, having no money, get no
gospel. The politician keeps away, because the people have no
votes, and the preacher keeps away, because the people have no
money. The rich planter can afford to learn politics in the
parlor, and to dispense with religion altogether.
<50>

In its isolation, seclusion, and self-reliant independence, Col.
Lloyd's plantation resembles what the baronial domains were
during the middle ages in Europe. Grim, cold, and unapproachable
by all genial influences from communities without, _there it
stands;_ full three hundred years behind the age, in all that
relates to humanity and morals.

This, however, is not the only view that the place presents.
Civilization is shut out, but nature cannot be. Though separated
from the rest of the world; though public opinion, as I have
said, seldom gets a chance to penetrate its dark domain; though
the whole place is stamped with its own peculiar, ironlike
individuality; and though crimes, high-handed and atrocious, may
there be committed, with almost as much impunity as upon the deck
of a pirate ship--it is, nevertheless, altogether, to outward
seeming, a most strikingly interesting place, full of life,
activity, and spirit; and presents a very favorable contrast to
the indolent monotony and languor of Tuckahoe. Keen as was my
regret and great as was my sorrow at leaving the latter, I was
not long in adapting myself to this, my new home. A man's
troubles are always half disposed of, when he finds endurance his
only remedy. I found myself here; there was no getting away; and
what remained for me, but to make the best of it? Here were
plenty of children to play with, and plenty of places of pleasant
resort for boys of my age, and boys older. The little tendrils
of affection, so rudely and treacherously broken from around the
darling objects of my grandmother's hut, gradually began to
extend, and to entwine about the new objects by which I now found
myself surrounded.

There was a windmill (always a commanding object to a child's
eye) on Long Point--a tract of land dividing Miles river from the
Wye a mile or more from my old master's house. There was a creek
to swim in, at the bottom of an open flat space, of twenty acres
or more, called "the Long Green"--a very beautiful play-ground
for the children.
<51 CHARMS OF THE PLACE>

In the river, a short distance from the shore, lying quietly at
anchor, with her small boat dancing at her stern, was a large
sloop--the Sally Lloyd; called by that name in honor of a
favorite daughter of the colonel. The sloop and the mill were
wondrous things, full of thoughts and ideas. A child cannot well
look at such objects without _thinking_.

Then here were a great many houses; human habitations, full of
the mysteries of life at every stage of it. There was the little
red house, up the road, occupied by Mr. Sevier, the overseer. A
little nearer to my old master's, stood a very long, rough, low
building, literally alive with slaves, of all ages, conditions
and sizes. This was called "the Longe Quarter." Perched upon a
hill, across the Long Green, was a very tall, dilapidated, old
brick building--the architectural dimensions of which proclaimed
its erection for a different purpose--now occupied by slaves, in
a similar manner to the Long Quarter. Besides these, there were
numerous other slave houses and huts, scattered around in the
neighborhood, every nook and corner of which was completely
occupied. Old master's house, a long, brick building, plain, but
substantial, stood in the center of the plantation life, and
constituted one independent establishment on the premises of Col.
Lloyd.

Besides these dwellings, there were barns, stables, store-houses,
and tobacco-houses; blacksmiths' shops, wheelwrights' shops,
coopers' shops--all objects of interest; but, above all, there
stood the grandest building my eyes had then ever beheld, called,
by every one on the plantation, the "Great House." This was
occupied by Col. Lloyd and his family. They occupied it; _I_
enjoyed it. The great house was surrounded by numerous and
variously shaped out-buildings. There were kitchens, wash-
houses, dairies, summer-house, green-houses, hen-houses, turkey-
houses, pigeon-houses, and arbors, of many sizes and devices, all
neatly painted, and altogether interspersed with grand old trees,
ornamental and primitive, which afforded delightful shade in
<52>summer, and imparted to the scene a high degree of stately
beauty. The great house itself was a large, white, wooden
building, with wings on three sides of it. In front, a large
portico, extending the entire length of the building, and
supported by a long range of columns, gave to the whole
establishment an air of solemn grandeur. It was a treat to my
young and gradually opening mind, to behold this elaborate
exhibition of wealth, power, and vanity. The carriage entrance
to the house was a large gate, more than a quarter of a mile
distant from it; the intermediate space was a beautiful lawn,
very neatly trimmed, and watched with the greatest care. It was
dotted thickly over with delightful trees, shrubbery, and
flowers. The road, or lane, from the gate to the great house,
was richly paved with white pebbles from the beach, and, in its
course, formed a complete circle around the beautiful lawn.
Carriages going in and retiring from the great house, made the
circuit of the lawn, and their passengers were permitted to
behold a scene of almost Eden-like beauty. Outside this select
inclosure, were parks, where as about the residences of the
English nobility--rabbits, deer, and other wild game, might be
seen, peering and playing about, with none to molest them or make
them afraid. The tops of the stately poplars were often covered
with the red-winged black-birds, making all nature vocal with the
joyous life and beauty of their wild, warbling notes. These all
belonged to me, as well as to Col. Edward Lloyd, and for a time I
greatly enjoyed them.

A short distance from the great house, were the stately mansions
of the dead, a place of somber aspect. Vast tombs, embowered
beneath the weeping willow and the fir tree, told of the
antiquities of the Lloyd family, as well as of their wealth.
Superstition was rife among the slaves about this family burying
ground. Strange sights had been seen there by some of the older
slaves. Shrouded ghosts, riding on great black horses, had been
seen to enter; balls of fire had been seen to fly there at
midnight, and horrid sounds had been repeatedly heard. Slaves
know <53 WEALTH OF COLONEL LLOYD>enough of the rudiments of
theology to believe that those go to hell who die slaveholders;
and they often fancy such persons wishing themselves back again,
to wield the lash. Tales of sights and sounds, strange and
terrible, connected with the huge black tombs, were a very great
security to the grounds about them, for few of the slaves felt
like approaching them even in the day time. It was a dark,
gloomy and forbidding place, and it was difficult to feel that
the spirits of the sleeping dust there deposited, reigned with
the blest in the realms of eternal peace.

The business of twenty or thirty farms was transacted at this,
called, by way of eminence, "great house farm." These farms all
belonged to Col. Lloyd, as did, also, the slaves upon them. Each
farm was under the management of an overseer. As I have said of
the overseer of the home plantation, so I may say of the
overseers on the smaller ones; they stand between the slave and
all civil constitutions--their word is law, and is implicitly
obeyed.

The colonel, at this time, was reputed to be, and he apparently
was, very rich. His slaves, alone, were an immense fortune.
These, small and great, could not have been fewer than one
thousand in number, and though scarcely a month passed without
the sale of one or more lots to the Georgia traders, there was no
apparent diminution in the number of his human stock: the home
plantation merely groaned at a removal of the young increase, or
human crop, then proceeded as lively as ever. Horse-shoeing,
cart-mending, plow-repairing, coopering, grinding, and weaving,
for all the neighboring farms, were performed here, and slaves
were employed in all these branches. "Uncle Tony" was the
blacksmith; "Uncle Harry" was the cartwright; "Uncle Abel" was
the shoemaker; and all these had hands to assist them in their
several departments.

These mechanics were called "uncles" by all the younger slaves,
not because they really sustained that relationship to any, but
according to plantation _etiquette_, as a mark of respect, due
<54>from the younger to the older slaves. Strange, and even
ridiculous as it may seem, among a people so uncultivated, and
with so many stern trials to look in the face, there is not to be
found, among any people, a more rigid enforcement of the law of
respect to elders, than they maintain. I set this down as partly
constitutional with my race, and partly conventional. There is
no better material in the world for making a gentleman, than is
furnished in the African. He shows to others, and exacts for
himself, all the tokens of respect which he is compelled to
manifest toward his master. A young slave must approach the
company of the older with hat in hand, and woe betide him, if he
fails to acknowledge a favor, of any sort, with the accustomed
_"tank'ee,"_ &c. So uniformly are good manners enforced among
slaves, I can easily detect a "bogus" fugitive by his manners.

Among other slave notabilities of the plantation, was one called
by everybody Uncle Isaac Copper. It is seldom that a slave gets
a surname from anybody in Maryland; and so completely has the
south shaped the manners of the north, in this respect, that even
abolitionists make very little of the surname of a Negro. The
only improvement on the "Bills," "Jacks," "Jims," and "Neds" of
the south, observable here is, that "William," "John," "James,"
"Edward," are substituted. It goes against the grain to treat
and address a Negro precisely as they would treat and address a
white man. But, once in a while, in slavery as in the free
states, by some extraordinary circumstance, the Negro has a
surname fastened to him, and holds it against all
conventionalities. This was the case with Uncle Isaac Copper.
When the "uncle" was dropped, he generally had the prefix
"doctor," in its stead. He was our doctor of medicine, and
doctor of divinity as well. Where he took his degree I am unable
to say, for he was not very communicative to inferiors, and I was
emphatically such, being but a boy seven or eight years old. He
was too well established in his profession to permit questions as
to his native skill, or his attainments. One qualification he
undoubtedly had--he <55 PRAYING AND FLOGGING>was a confirmed
_cripple;_ and he could neither work, nor would he bring anything
if offered for sale in the market. The old man, though lame, was
no sluggard. He was a man that made his crutches do him good
service. He was always on the alert, looking up the sick, and
all such as were supposed to need his counsel. His remedial
prescriptions embraced four articles. For diseases of the body,
_Epsom salts and castor oil;_ for those of the soul, _the Lord's
Prayer_, and _hickory switches_!

I was not long at Col. Lloyd's before I was placed under the care
of Doctor Issac Copper. I was sent to him with twenty or thirty
other children, to learn the "Lord's Prayer." I found the old
gentleman seated on a huge three-legged oaken stool, armed with
several large hickory switches; and, from his position, he could
reach--lame as he was--any boy in the room. After standing
awhile to learn what was expected of us, the old gentleman, in
any other than a devotional tone, commanded us to kneel down.
This done, he commenced telling us to say everything he said.
"Our Father"--this was repeated after him with promptness and
uniformity; "Who art in heaven"--was less promptly and uniformly
repeated; and the old gentleman paused in the prayer, to give us
a short lecture upon the consequences of inattention, both
immediate and future, and especially those more immediate. About
these he was absolutely certain, for he held in his right hand
the means of bringing all his predictions and warnings to pass.
On he proceeded with the prayer; and we with our thick tongues
and unskilled ears, followed him to the best of our ability.
This, however, was not sufficient to please the old gentleman.
Everybody, in the south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody
else. Uncle Isaac shared the common passion of his country, and,
therefore, seldom found any means of keeping his disciples in
order short of flogging. "Say everything I say;" and bang would
come the switch on some poor boy's undevotional head. _"What you
looking at there"--"Stop that pushing"_--and down again would
come the lash.
<56>

The whip is all in all. It is supposed to secure obedience to
the slaveholder, and is held as a sovereign remedy among the
slaves themselves, for every form of disobedience, temporal or
spiritual. Slaves, as well as slaveholders, use it with an
unsparing hand. Our devotions at Uncle Isaac's combined too much
of the tragic and comic, to make them very salutary in a
spiritual point of view; and it is due to truth to say, I was
often a truant when the time for attending the praying and
flogging of Doctor Isaac Copper came on.

The windmill under the care of Mr. Kinney, a kind hearted old
Englishman, was to me a source of infinite interest and pleasure.
The old man always seemed pleased when he saw a troop of darkey
little urchins, with their tow-linen shirts fluttering in the
breeze, approaching to view and admire the whirling wings of his
wondrous machine. From the mill we could see other objects of
deep interest. These were, the vessels from St. Michael's, on
their way to Baltimore. It was a source of much amusement to
view the flowing sails and complicated rigging, as the little
crafts dashed by, and to speculate upon Baltimore, as to the kind
and quality of the place. With so many sources of interest
around me, the reader may be prepared to learn that I began to
think very highly of Col. L.'s plantation. It was just a place
to my boyish taste. There were fish to be caught in the creek,
if one only had a hook and line; and crabs, clams and oysters
were to be caught by wading, digging and raking for them. Here
was a field for industry and enterprise, strongly inviting; and
the reader may be assured that I entered upon it with spirit.

Even the much dreaded old master, whose merciless fiat had
brought me from Tuckahoe, gradually, to my mind, parted with his
terrors. Strange enough, his reverence seemed to take no
particular notice of me, nor of my coming. Instead of leaping
out and devouring me, he scarcely seemed conscious of my
presence. The fact is, he was occupied with matters more weighty
and important than either looking after or vexing me. He
probably thought as <57 "OLD MASTER" LOSING ITS TERRORS>little of
my advent, as he would have thought of the addition of a single
pig to his stock!

As the chief butler on Col. Lloyd's plantation, his duties were
numerous and perplexing. In almost all important matters he
answered in Col. Lloyd's stead. The overseers of all the farms
were in some sort under him, and received the law from his mouth.
The colonel himself seldom addressed an overseer, or allowed an
overseer to address him. Old master carried the keys of all
store houses; measured out the allowance for each slave at the
end of every month; superintended the storing of all goods
brought to the plantation; dealt out the raw material to all the
handicraftsmen; shipped the grain, tobacco, and all saleable

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