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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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Chapter 8

In a very short time after I went to live at Balti-
more, my old master's youngest son Richard died;
and in about three years and six months after his
death, my old master, Captain Anthony, died, leav-
only his son, Andrew, and daughter, Lucretia, to
share his estate. He died while on a visit to see his
daughter at Hillsborough. Cut off thus unexpectedly,
he left no will as to the disposal of his property. It
was therefore necessary to have a valuation of the
property, that it might be equally divided between
Mrs. Lucretia and Master Andrew. I was immedi-
ately sent for, to be valued with the other property.
Here again my feelings rose up in detestation of
slavery. I had now a new conception of my degraded
condition. Prior to this, I had become, if not in-
sensible to my lot, at least partly so. I left Baltimore
with a young heart overborne with sadness, and a
soul full of apprehension. I took passage with Cap-
tain Rowe, in the schooner Wild Cat, and, after a
sail of about twenty-four hours, I found myself near
the place of my birth. I had now been absent from
it almost, if not quite, five years. I, however, re-
membered the place very well. I was only about
five years old when I left it, to go and live with my
old master on Colonel Lloyd's plantation; so that
I was now between ten and eleven years old.
We were all ranked together at the valuation. Men
and women, old and young, married and single, were
ranked with horses, sheep, and swine. There were
horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and chil-
dren, all holding the same rank in the scale of being,
and were all subjected to the same narrow examina-
tion. Silvery-headed age and sprightly youth, maids
and matrons, had to undergo the same indelicate
inspection. At this moment, I saw more clearly than
ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both
slave and slaveholder.
After the valuation, then came the division. I have
no language to express the high excitement and deep
anxiety which were felt among us poor slaves during
this time. Our fate for life was now to be decided.
we had no more voice in that decision than the
brutes among whom we were ranked. A single word
from the white men was enough—against all our
wishes, prayers, and entreaties—to sunder forever the
dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties
known to human beings. In addition to the pain of
separation, there was the horrid dread of falling into
the hands of Master Andrew. He was known to us
all as being a most cruel wretch,—a common drunk-
ard, who had, by his reckless mismanagement and
profligate dissipation, already wasted a large por-
tion of his father's property. We all felt that we
might as well be sold at once to the Georgia traders,
as to pass into his hands; for we knew that that
would be our inevitable condition,—a condition held
by us all in the utmost horror and dread.
I suffered more anxiety than most of my fellow-
slaves. I had known what it was to be kindly treated;
they had known nothing of the kind. They had seen
little or nothing of the world. They were in very
deed men and women of sorrow, and acquainted with
grief. Their backs had been made familiar with the
bloody lash, so that they had become callous; mine
was yet tender; for while at Baltimore I got few whip-
pings, and few slaves could boast of a kinder master
and mistress than myself; and the thought of pass-
ing out of their hands into those of Master Andrew—
a man who, but a few days before, to give me a
sample of his bloody disposition, took my little
brother by the throat, threw him on the ground, and
with the heel of his boot stamped upon his head
till the blood gushed from his nose and ears—was
well calculated to make me anxious as to my fate.
After he had committed this savage outrage upon
my brother, he turned to me, and said that was the
way he meant to serve me one of these days,—mean-
ing, I suppose, when I came into his possession.
Thanks to a kind Providence, I fell to the portion
of Mrs. Lucretia, and was sent immediately back
to Baltimore, to live again in the family of Master
Hugh. Their joy at my return equalled their sorrow
at my departure. It was a glad day to me. I had
escaped a worse than lion's jaws. I was absent from
Baltimore, for the purpose of valuation and division,
just about one month, and it seemed to have been
six.
Very soon after my return to Baltimore, my mis-
tress, Lucretia, died, leaving her husband and one
child, Amanda; and in a very short time after her
death, Master Andrew died. Now all the property
of my old master, slaves included, was in the hands
of strangers,—strangers who had had nothing to do
with accumulating it. Not a slave was left free. All
remained slaves, from the youngest to the oldest. If
any one thing in my experience, more than another,
served to deepen my conviction of the infernal char-
acter of slavery, and to fill me with unutterable
loathing of slaveholders, it was their base ingrati-
tude to my poor old grandmother. She had served
my old master faithfully from youth to old age. She
had been the source of all his wealth; she had peo-
pled his plantation with slaves; she had become a
great grandmother in his service. She had rocked
him in infancy, attended him in childhood, served
him through life, and at his death wiped from his
icy brow the cold death-sweat, and closed his eyes
forever. She was nevertheless left a slave—a slave for
life—a slave in the hands of strangers; and in their
hands she saw her children, her grandchildren, and
her great-grandchildren, divided, like so many sheep,
without being gratified with the small privilege of a
single word, as to their or her own destiny. And, to
cap the climax of their base ingratitude and fiendish
barbarity, my grandmother, who was now very old,
having outlived my old master and all his children,
having seen the beginning and end of all of them,
and her present owners finding she was of but little
value, her frame already racked with the pains of old
age, and complete helplessness fast stealing over her
once active limbs, they took her to the woods, built
her a little hut, put up a little mud-chimney, and
then made her welcome to the privilege of support-
ing herself there in perfect loneliness; thus virtually
turning her out to die! If my poor old grandmother
now lives, she lives to suffer in utter loneliness; she
lives to remember and mourn over the loss of chil-
dren, the loss of grandchildren, and the loss of great-
grandchildren. They are, in the language of the
slave's poet, Whittier,—

"Gone, gone, sold and gone

To the rice swamp dank and lone,

Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings,

Where the noisome insect stings,

Where the fever-demon strews

Poison with the falling dews,

Where the sickly sunbeams glare

Through the hot and misty air:—

Gone, gone, sold and gone

To the rice swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia hills and waters—

Woe is me, my stolen daughters!"

The hearth is desolate. The children, the uncon-
scious children, who once sang and danced in her
presence, are gone. She gropes her way, in the dark-
ness of age, for a drink of water. Instead of the voices
of her children, she hears by day the moans of the
dove, and by night the screams of the hideous owl.
All is gloom. The grave is at the door. And now,
when weighed down by the pains and aches of old
age, when the head inclines to the feet, when the
beginning and ending of human existence meet, and
helpless infancy and painful old age combine to-
gether—at this time, this most needful time, the time
for the exercise of that tenderness and affection
which children only can exercise towards a declining
parent—my poor old grandmother, the devoted
mother of twelve children, is left all alone, in yonder
little hut, before a few dim embers. She stands—
she sits—she staggers—she falls—she groans—she dies
—and there are none of her children or grandchildren
present, to wipe from her wrinkled brow the cold
sweat of death, or to place beneath the sod her
fallen remains. Will not a righteous God visit for
these things?
In about two years after the death of Mrs. Lu-
cretia, Master Thomas married his second wife. Her
name was Rowena Hamilton. She was the eldest
daughter of Mr. William Hamilton. Master now
lived in St. Michael's. Not long after his marriage,
a misunderstanding took place between himself and
Master Hugh; and as a means of punishing his
brother, he took me from him to live with himself
at St. Michael's. Here I underwent another most
painful separation. It, however, was not so severe
as the one I dreaded at the division of property; for,
during this interval, a great change had taken place
in Master Hugh and his once kind and affectionate
wife. The influence of brandy upon him, and of
slavery upon her, had effected a disastrous change
in the characters of both; so that, as far as they
were concerned, I thought I had little to lose by the
change. But it was not to them that I was attached.
It was to those little Baltimore boys that I felt the
strongest attachment. I had received many good
lessons from them, and was still receiving them, and
the thought of leaving them was painful indeed. I
was leaving, too, without the hope of ever being
allowed to return. Master Thomas had said he would
never let me return again. The barrier betwixt him-
self and brother he considered impassable.
I then had to regret that I did not at least make
the attempt to carry out my resolution to run away;
for the chances of success are tenfold greater from
the city than from the country.
I sailed from Baltimore for St. Michael's in the
sloop Amanda, Captain Edward Dodson. On my
passage, I paid particular attention to the direction
which the steamboats took to go to Philadelphia. I
found, instead of going down, on reaching North
Point they went up the bay, in a north-easterly direc-
tion. I deemed this knowledge of the utmost im-
portance. My determination to run away was again
revived. I resolved to wait only so long as the offering
of a favorable opportunity. When that came, I was
determined to be off.
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