What were Frederick Douglass's family, childhood experiences, and slave master father Captain Anthony like?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Douglass says that he does not know for certain whether or not Captain Anthony is his father; however, common practices at the time of masters raping slave women lead him to believe that his master was in fact his father.  Douglass says that Captain Anthony also seemed to have an "eye" for his Aunt Hester (which prompted Captain Anthony to savagely beat her after seeing her with a slave man).  Douglass regarded Captain Anthony as a cruel man, and the whippings that Douglass witnessed which were delivered by Captain Anthony's hand support Douglass's description.

Douglass was not close to his mother or his other family members because he was taken away from them at a young age.  His mother was hired out to another plantation owner, and he was only able to see her a few nights when she was able to sneak away to return to his bedside.  She died when he was very young, so they were never able to bond. 

Douglass's childhood on the plantation was harsh, and he suffered from cold and hunger because the rations that were given to the slaves were never enough.  He was too young to work in the fields, so he spent most of his time driving cows and cleaning the front yard.  It was only after Douglass left the plantation that any rays of hope shone for him.

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