Summary of Chapter 1:
Fredrick Douglass mainly speaks about how 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. Although children of mixed-race parentage are always categorized as slaves, Douglass says, and this class of “mulattos” is increasing fast.
“I received the tidings of [my mother’s] death with much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger.”
I found this quote very important because Douglass’s mother dies, although as he says he doesn’t feel as much sympathy as he would have, if he hadn’t been separated from his mother form birth and been able to have a close and personal relation with Harriet Bailey, his mom.
Summary of Chapter 2:
Beginning speaks about Captain Anthony [superintendent of the plantation] and his has two sons, Andrew and Richard, one daughter, Lucretia, and her husband, Captain Thomas Auld. Their house is part of a plantation owned by Colonel Lloyd, a rich landowner in Talbot county. Colonel Lloyd's home plantation has three to four hundred slaves and he owns many more in the twenty or so farms nearby. When young Douglass is first brought to Colonel Lloyd's plantation, the overseer Mr. Severe rightly named because he is a cruel, bitter man who constantly swears. He dies shortly after Douglass arrives and the slaves consider it a easeful providence. He is replaced by Mr. Hopkins, a quiet man, which the slaves consider a good overseer.
“I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear.”
I think Douglass is just trying to explain that the singing of slaves is an expression of their happiness. Although the songs are actually evidence, of the slaves deep unhappiness.
Summary of Chapter 3:
Fredrick Douglass went to live at Colonel Lloyd's plantation, and was surprised by the splendor he saw. Douglass heard that Lloyd owned approximately a thousand slaves, and he believes that this estimate is probably right.
He later explains that owners often send in colored spies with their own slaves to determine their opinions about their living and working conditions. For this reason, many slaves, when asked by other slaves about their living conditions, simply lie and present a picture of slavery. Strangely enough, slaves often even have prolonged discussions among slaves, regarding whose owner is better, stronger, or richer.
Quote: Pages: 31
"It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man's slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!"
Slaves were known and treated at such low standards; so it was a shame to be even compared to an slave.
Summary of Chapter 4:
Hopkins was eventually replaced by Gore, an ambitious overseer who was extremely cruel. Douglass remembers one time when Gore whipped a slave named Demby so badly that Demby ran into a deep, flowing creek to soothe his shoulders. Gore warned that he would shoot if Demby didn't come out of the creek. Gore counted to three, and Demby still didn’t obey to come out of the creek. Without further notice, Gore cocked his musket and killed Demby. Gore later explained to Lloyd that the killing served as an example to other slaves: “disobey — and die.”
Quote: Page: 35
"It was worth a half-cent to kill a 'nigger,' and a half-cent to bury one."
I got from this quote on page 35 of Chapter 4 is that “niggers” were not valued much in the eyes of whites or even of slave owners.
Summary of Chapter 5:
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