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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass
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What was life like for Frederick Douglass as a young slave boy in Maryland?

On the plantation in Maryland, the boy slave Frederick found life unhappy and frightening because of the abuse the slaves suffered. In Baltimore, his life as a slave was easier, but the knowledge that he would always be owned ate away at him as unfair and caused him to desire freedom.

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The young Frederick Douglass had several different experiences as a slave boy in Maryland. In his early youth, he was found plantation life frightening. His master, who was rumored also to be his father, was cruel to the slaves, while the overseer, Mr. Plummer, was a "monster" and a drunk...

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The young Frederick Douglass had several different experiences as a slave boy in Maryland. In his early youth, he was found plantation life frightening. His master, who was rumored also to be his father, was cruel to the slaves, while the overseer, Mr. Plummer, was a "monster" and a drunk who beat the slaves without mercy.

The young Douglass's most frightening early experience was watching the behavior of his master, Captain Anthony. He was "hardened" to slavery and seemed to enjoy whipping his slaves. Douglass was horrified one day to be ordered, with other slaves, to witness him beating a slave named Hester bloody. Douglass was newly arrived at the great house of the plantation after being raised during his early years by his grandmother and was terrified by what he saw.

Later, when Douglass was sent to live in Baltimore with the Aulds, his lot improved. He noted that because the houses in the city were close together, masters were less likely to abuse their slaves cruelly. His mistress, newly married and new to slave owning, at first treated him kindly and began to teach him to read. After this was stopped, Douglass, while out running errands in the streets, would trade bread with white boys for help with reading.

While life was better for Douglass in Baltimore, it was here he realized he would always be a slave, even after he grew up, and the knowledge ate into him as unfair. He developed a deep desire for freedom and a deep hatred of the humiliations of being a slave, both of which would later impel him to seek freedom.

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