In Talbot County, Maryland, in the early 1800s, Frederick Bailey was born into slavery by his mother who isn’t known. He was believed to be the son the Colonel Lloyd’s superintendent and wealthy slaveholder, Captain Anthony. He lived at Great House Farm with many others, a plantation where other slaves would feel lucky to even go there on assignments, despite cruel beatings and little to no free time and allowance. One day, Frederick and a few other children were chosen to leave Great House Farm and live with Anthony’s distant relative, Hugh Auld.

When Frederick got there, Hugh’s wife, Mrs. Auld started to teach Frederick how to read. She successfully taught him the alphabet, but soon after, she was banned by Mr. Auld from teaching slave children how to read. Even though he was banned from learning how to read from Mrs.

Auld, Frederick learned how to read from the poor white boys on his block, and to practice writing, he used the Aulds’ son’s copybooks.

After Douglass had a quarrel with Mr. Auld, he was sent to live with Edward Covey, famously known at the time as the “slave breaker.” Douglass describes his experience as detrimental to his being. He says, “Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!’ Douglass, Frederick.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 49. 1845. After multiple irrational beatings overtime by Covey, Frederick finally decided to resist. This battle went on for two hours, and afterwards, Covey never hurt him again. He walked freely on the plantation, and in Frederick’s eyes, this was the point of him transitioning from a slave to a man.

After a year of living with Covey, Frederick moved to live with William Freeman, the best master he had encountered. Freeman was fair to all of his slave. He paid and fed them sufficiently, rarely ever unfairly beating the slaves. Frederick regained his positive and determined spirit and he even started a Sunday school on the plantation, and taught the other slaves to read. Despite him being happy, Douglass came to realize how old he was getting and that he still hadn’t accomplished his goal of being free. After one failed escape attempt with some friends, in 1838, Frederick successfully escaped with the help of people whose identities were kept hidden for their safety. Though he felt bad for leaving his friends in Baltimore, Frederick saw this as an opportunity for a fresh start.

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Life of Frederick Douglass. (2022, Apr 27). Retrieved from

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