Douglass begins his Narrative by explaining that he is like many other slaves who don't know when they were born and, sometimes, even who their parents are. From hearsay, he estimates that he was born around 1817 and that his father was probably his first white master, Captain Anthony. His mother, Harriet Bailey, was a field hand who wasn't allowed to see him very often; she died when Douglass was seven years old. Children of mixed-race parentage are always classified as slaves, Douglass says, and this class of mulattos is increasing rapidly. Douglass implies that these mulatto slaves are, for the most part, the result of white masters raping black slaves. He tells about the brutality of his master's overseer, Mr. Plummer, as well as the story of Aunt Hester, who was brutally whipped by Captain Anthony because she fancied another slave. Captain Anthony apparently wanted her for himself exclusively.
Douglass describes his master's family and their relationship with Colonel Lloyd, who was sort of a "grand master" of the area. Douglass explains that if slaves broke plantation rules, tried to run away, or became generally "unmanageable," they were whipped and shipped to Baltimore to be sold to slave traders as a "warning to the [other] slaves." He discusses the meager food and clothing allowance given to slaves: "Children from seven to ten years old, of both sexes, almost naked, might be seen all seasons of the year." Slaves had no beds and only some were given blankets. They had to work long hours in the fields and were deprived of sleep. The master's latest overseer, with the fitting name of Mr. Severe, was "armed with a large hickory stick and heavy cowskin" and took "fiendish pleasure in manifesting barbarity." Severe's early death was considered a sign of a "merciful providence" by the slaves, but he was soon replaced by Hopkins, a less profane man, but no less cruel than Severe.... [continues]
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