The Opportunity for Every Man in a Republic—The Depth Below a White Man's Poverty—The Starting Point whence Fred Douglass Raised Himself—His Mother—Her Noble Traits—Her Self-Denial for the sake of Seeing him—She Defends him against Aunt Katy—Her Death—Col. Loyd's Plantation—The Luxury of his own Mansion—The Organization of his Estate—"Old Master"—How they Punished the Women—How Young Douglass Philosophized on Being a Slave—Plantation Life—The Allowance of Food—The Clothes—An Average Plantation Day—Mr. Douglass' Experience as a Slave Child—The Slave Children's Trough—The Slave Child's Thoughts—The Melancholy of Slave Songs—He Becomes a House Servant—A Kind Mistress Teaches him to Read—How he completed his Education—Effects of Learning to Read—Experiences Religion and Prays for Liberty—Learns to Write—Hires his Time, and Absconds—Becomes a Free Working-Man in New Bedford—Marries—Mr. Douglass on Garrison—Mr. Douglass' Literary Career.

The reader will perceive, in reading the memoirs which we have collected in the present volume, that although they give a few instances of men who have risen to distinction from comfortable worldly circumstances, by making a good use of the provision afforded them by early competence and leisure, yet by far the greater number have raised themselves by their own unaided efforts, in spite of every disadvantage which circumstances could throw in their way.

It is the pride and the boast of truly republican institutions that they give to every human being an opportunity of thus demonstrating what is in him. If a man is a man, no matter in what rank of society he is born, no matter how tied down and weighted by poverty and all its attendant disadvantages, there is nothing in our American institutions to prevent his rising to the very highest offices in the gift of the country. So, though a man like Charles Sumner, coming of an old Boston family, with every advantage of Boston schools and of Cambridge college, becomes distinguished through the country, yet side by side with him we see Abraham Lincoln, the rail splitter, Henry Wilson, from the shoemaker's bench, and Chase, from a New Hampshire farm. But there have been in our country some three or four million of human beings who were born to a depth of poverty below what Henry Wilson or Abraham Lincoln ever dreamed of. Wilson and Lincoln, to begin with, owned nothing but their bare hands, but there have been in this country four or five million men and women who did not own even their bare hands. Wilson and Lincoln, and other brave men like them, owned their own souls and wills—they were free to say, "Thus and thus I will do—I will be educated, I will be intelligent, I will be Christian, I will by honest industry amass property to serve me in my upward aims." But there were four million men and women in America who were decreed by the laws of this country not to own even their own souls. The law said of them—They shall be taken and held as chattels personal to all intents and purposes. This hapless class of human beings might be sold for debt, might be mortgaged for real estate, nay, the unborn babe might be pledged or mortgaged for the debts of a master. There were among these unfortunate millions, in the eye of the law, neither husbands nor wives, nor fathers nor mothers; they were only chattels personal. They could no more contract a legal marriage than a bedstead can marry a cooking-stove, or a plough be wedded to a spinning wheel. They were week after week advertised in public prints to be sold in company with horses, cows, pigs, hens, and other stock of a plantation.

They were forbidden to learn to read. The slave laws imposed the same penalty on the man who should teach a slave to read as on the man who wilfully put out his eyes. They had no legal right to be Christians, or enter the kingdom of heaven, because the law regarded them simply as personal property, subject to the caprice of an owner, and when the owner did not choose to have his property be a Christian, he could shut him out from the light of the gospel as easily as one can close a window shutter.

Now if we think it a great thing that Wilson and Lincoln raised themselves from a state of comparatively early disadvantage to high places in the land, what shall we think of one who started from this immeasureable gulf below them?

Frederick Douglass had as far to climb to get to the spot where the poorest free white boy is born, as that white boy has to climb to be president of the nation, and take rank with kings and judges of the earth.

There are few young men born to competence, carried carefully through all the earlier stages of training, drilled in grammar school, and perfected by a four years' college course, who could stand up on a platform and compete successfully with Frederick Douglass as an orator. Nine out of ten of college educated young men would shrink even from the trial, and yet Frederick Douglass fought his way up from a nameless hovel on a Maryland plantation, where with hundreds of others of the young live stock he shivered in his little tow shirt, the only garment allowed him for summer and winter, kept himself warm by sitting on the sunny side of out buildings, like a little dog, and often was glad to dispute with the pigs for the scraps of what came to them to satisfy his hunger.

From this position he has raised himself to the habits of mind, thought and life of a cultivated gentleman, and from that point of sight has illustrated exactly what slavery WAS, (thank God we write in the past tense,) in an autobiography which most affectingly presents what it is to be born a slave. Every man who struck a stroke in our late great struggle—every man or woman who made a sacrifice for it—every one conscious of inward bleedings and cravings that never shall be healed or assuaged, for what they have rendered up in this great anguish, ought to read this autobiography of a slave man, and give thanks to God that even by the bitterest sufferings they have been permitted to do something to wipe such a disgrace and wrong from the earth.

The first thing that every man remembers is his mother. Americans all have a mother at least that can be named. But it is exceedingly affecting to read the history of a human being who writes that during all his childhood he never saw his mother more than two or three times, and then only in the night. And why? Because she was employed on a plantation twelve miles away. Her only means of seeing her boy were to walk twelve miles over to the place where he was, spend a brief hour, and walk twelve miles back, so as to be ready to go to work at four o'clock in the morning. How many mothers would often visit their children by such an effort? and yet at well remembered intervals the mother of Frederick Douglass did this for the sake of holding her child a little while in her arms, lying down a brief hour with him.

That she was a woman of uncommon energy and strength of affection this sufficiently shows, because as slave mother she could do him no earthly good—she owned not a cent to bring him. She could not buy him clothes. She could not even mend or wash the one garment allotted to him.

Only once in his childhood did he remember his mother's presence as being to him anything of that comfort and protection that it is to ordinary children. He, with all the other little live stock of the plantation, were dependent for a daily allowance of food on a cross old woman whom they called Aunt Katy. For some reason of her own, Aunt Katy had taken a pique against little Fred, and announced to him that she was going to keep him a day without food. At the close of this day, when he crept shivering in among the other children, and was denied even the coarse slice of corn bread which all the rest had, he broke out into loud lamentations. Suddenly his mother appeared behind him—caught him in her arms, poured out volumes of wrathful indignation on Aunt Katy, and threatened to complain to the overseer if she did not give him his share of food—produced from her bosom a sweet cake which she had managed to procure for him, and sat down to wipe away his tears and see him enjoy it. This mother must have been a woman of strong mental characteristics. Though a plantation field hand, she could read, and if we consider against what superhuman difficulties such a knowledge must have been acquired, it is an evidence of wonderful character. Douglass says of her that she was tall and finely proportioned. With affecting simplicity he says: "There is in Pritchard's Natural History of Man, p. 157, the head of a figure the features of which so resemble those of my mother, that I often recur to it with something of the feeling which I suppose others to experience when looking on the pictures of dear departed ones."

The face alluded to is copied from a head of Rameses the great Egyptian king of the nineteenth dynasty. The profile is European in its features, and similar in class to the head of Napoleon. From all these considerations, we have supposed that the mother of Douglass must have been one of that Mandingo tribe of Africans who were distinguished among the slaves for fine features, great energy, intelligence and pride of character. The black population of America is not one race. If slaveholders and kidnappers had been busy for years in Europe stirring up wars in the different countries, and sending all the captives to be sold in America, the mixture of Swedes, Danes, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, might all have gone under the one head of Whitemen, but they would have been none the more of the same race. The negroes of this country are a mixture torn from tribes and races quite as dissimilar. The Mandingo has European features, a fine form, wavy, not woolly hair, is intelligent, vigorous, proud and brave. The Guinea negro has a coarse, animal head, is stupid, dirty, cunning. Yet the argument on negro powers is generally based on some such sweeping classification as takes the Guinea negro for its type.

The father of Frederick Douglass was a white man, who, he never knew—it would have been of no advantage to him had he known—but there is reason to think that those fine intellectual gifts, that love of liberty, and hatred of slavery which have led him to the position he now occupies among freemen, were due to the blood of his mother. That silent, noble black woman, whose wrongs were borne in such patience, whose soul must so often have burned within her, whose affections were stronger than weariness, and whose mind would possess the key of knowledge even though she gained it at such terrible sacrifices and hazards, she is to be honored as the mother of Garrison is, as having lived in her son and being the true author and inspirer of all that is good and just in him.

After a few short interviews the communication between Douglass and his mother ceased. She was taken sick, had a long illness and died without a word or message, or any token passing between her and her child. He running wild, a dirty little animal on the distant plantation, she suffering, wasting, dying in silence—going into the great Invisible where so many helpless mothers have gone to plead for their children before God.

The plantation of Col. Loyd, on which Fred Douglass was raised, was a representative fact illustrating what may be known of slavery. There might be seen a large airy elegant house, filled with every luxury and comfort, the abode of hospitality and leisure. Company always coming and going—bountiful tables spread with every delicacy of sea and land—choice cookery, old wines, massive plate, splendid curtains and pictures, all combined to give the impression of a joyous and abundant life. Fifteen well dressed, well trained servants, chosen for good looks and good manners, formed an obsequious army of attendants behind the chairs of guests at the dinner hour, or waited on them in their private apartments.

The shrubbery, the flower gardens, the ample lawns, were laid out with European taste, the stables had studs of the finest blood horses at the disposal of guests—all was cultivation, elegance and refinement.

Col. Loyd was supposed to own a thousand slaves, and what the life was on which all this luxury and elegance was built, the history of Douglass and his mother may show. Col. Loyd owned several contiguous farms or plantations, each one under an overseer, and all were under the general supervision of an agent who lived on the central plantation and went by the name among the slaves of Old Master. Between this man and his family, and Col. Loyd and his family, there was none of the intercourse of equals. No visits were ever exchanged, and no intercourse except of a necessary business character ever took place. The owner and his family had nothing to do with the management of the estates any further than to enjoy and dispense the revenues they brought; in all the rest was left to "Old Master and the Overseers." The estate was as secluded from all influence of public opinion, and the slaves were as completely in the power of the overseers, as the serfs in the feudal ages. Even the vessels which carried the produce of the plantation to Baltimore, were owned by Col. Loyd. Every man and boy by whom these vessels were worked, excepting the captains, were Col. Loyd's property. All the artizans on all the places, the blacksmiths, wheelwrights, shoe makers, weavers and coopers, also were pieces of property belonging to Col. Loyd. What chance was there for laws or for public sentiment, or any other humanizing influence, to restrain absolute power in a district so governed?

One of the earliest lessons in the practical meaning of slavery was taught to the child by hearing the shrieks and groans of a favorite Aunt Esther, under the lash of Old Master. She was a finely formed, handsome woman, and had the presumption to prefer a young slave man to her master, and for this she was made the victim of degradation and torture.

On another occasion he saw a young girl who came from one of the neighboring plantations, with her head cut and bleeding from the brutality of the overseer, to put herself under the protection of Old Master. Though the brutality of her treatment was perfectly evident, he heard her met only with reproaches and oaths and ordered to go back at once or expect even severer treatment. This was a part of an unvarying system. It was a fixed rule, never to listen to complaints of any kind from a slave, and even when they were evidently well founded, to affect to disregard them. That the slave was to have no appeal in any case from the absolute power of the overseer, was a fundamental maxim of the system.

Endowed by his mother with an intelligent and thoughtful organization, young Douglass began early to turn in his mind the dark question, "Why am I a slave?" On this subject he pushed enquiries among his little play-fellows and the elderly negroes, but could get no satisfactory solution, except that some remembered that their fathers and mothers were stolen from Africa. When not more than seven or eight years old these thoughts burned in him, whenever he wandered through the woods and fields, and a strong determination to become a freeman in future life took possession of him. It may have been inspired by the invisible guardianship of that poor mother, who, unable to help him in life, may have been permitted higher powers in the world of spirits.

The comments which Douglass makes on many features of slave life, as they affected his childish mind, are very peculiar, and show slavery entirely from an inside point of view.

In regard to the physical comforts of plantation life, he gives the following account:

"It is the boast of slaveholders that their slaves enjoy more of the physical comforts of life than the peasantry of any country in the world. My experience contradicts this. The men and the women slaves on Col. Loyd's plantation received as their monthly allowance, eight pounds of pickled pork or their equivalent in fish. The pork was often tainted and the fish of the poorest quality. With this, they had one bushel of unbolted Indian meal, of which quite fifteen per cent. was fit only for pigs; with this one pint of salt was given, and this was the entire monthly allowance of a full grown slave, working constantly in the open field, from morning till night, every day of the month, except Sundays. This was living on a fraction more than a quarter of a pound of poor meat per day, and less than a peck of corn meal per week, and there is no work requiring more abundant supply of food to prevent physical exhaustion, than the field work of a slave.

"So much for food. Now as for raiment. The yearly allowance of clothing for slaves on this plantation, consisted of two linen shirts, one pair of tow trowsers for summer, a pair of trowsers and jacket of slazy workmanship for winter, one pair of yarn stockings, and one pair of coarse shoes. The slave's entire apparel could not have cost more than eight dollars a year. Children not yet able to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets or trowsers given them. Their clothing consisted of two coarse tow linen shirts per year, and when these failed, they went literally naked till next allowance day. Flocks of children from five to ten years old might be seen on Col. Loyd's plantations as destitute of clothing as any little heathen in Africa and this even in the frosty month of March.

"As to beds to sleep on, none were given—nothing but a coarse blanket, such as is used in the North to cover horses—and these were not provided for little ones.

"The children cuddled in holes and corners about the quarters, often in the corners of the huge chimneys with their feet in the ashes to keep them warm."

An average day of plantation life is thus given:

"Old and young, male and female, married and single, drop down together on the clay floor of the cabin each evening with his or her blanket. The night however is shortened at both ends. The slaves work often as long as they can see, and are late in cooking and mending for the coming day, and at the first grey streak of morning are summoned to the field by the driver's horn.

"More slaves are whipped for oversleeping than for any other fault. The overseer stands at the quarter door, armed with his cowhide, ready to whip any who may be a few minutes behind time. When the horn is blown, there is a rush for the door, and the hindermost one is sure to get a blow from the overseer. Young mothers working in the field were allowed about ten o'clock to go home and nurse their children. Sometimes they are obliged to take their children with them and leave them in the corners of the fences, to prevent loss of time. The overseer rides round the field on horseback. A cowskin and a hickory stick are his constant companions. The slaves take their breakfast with them and eat it in the field. The dinner of the slave consists of a huge piece of ash cake, that is to say, unbolted corn meal and water, stirred up and baked in the ashes. To this a small slice of pork or a couple of salt herring were added. A few moments of rest is allowed at dinner, which is variously spent. Some lie down on the "turning row" and go to sleep. Others draw together and talk, others are at work with needle and thread mending their tattered garments; but soon the overseer comes dashing in upon them. Tumble up—tumble up is the word, and now from twelve o'clock till dark, the human cattle are in motion, wielding their clumsy hoes, inspired by no hope of reward, no sense of gratitude, no love of children, no prospect of bettering their condition, nothing save the dread and terror of the driver's lash. So goes one day and so comes another." This is slavery as remembered by a cultivated, intelligent man who was born and bred a slave.

In regard to his own peculiar lot as a child on this plantation, he says: "I was seldom whipped, and never severely, by my old master. I suffered little from any treatment I received, except from hunger and cold. I could get enough neither of food or clothing, but suffered more from cold than hunger. In the heat of summer or cold of winter alike I was kept almost in a state of nudity—no shoes, stockings, jacket, trowsers—nothing but a coarse tow linen shirt reaching to the knee. This I wore night and day. In the daytime I could protect myself pretty well by keeping on the sunny side of the house, and in bad weather in the corner of the kitchen chimney. The great difficulty was to keep warm at night. I had no bed. The pigs in the pen had leaves, and horses in the stable had straw, but the children had nothing. In very cold weather I sometimes got down the bag in which corn was carried to the mill, and got into that. My feet have been so cracked by the frost that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes.

"The manner of taking our meals at old master's, indicated but little refinement. Our corn-meal mush, when sufficiently cooled, was placed in a large wooden tray, or trough, like those used in making maple sugar here in the north. This tray was set down, either on the floor of the kitchen or out of doors on the ground; and the children were called, like so many pigs; and like so many pigs they would come, and literally devour the mush—some with oyster shells, some with pieces of shingles, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest got most, and he that was strongest got the best place; and few left the trough really satisfied. I was the most unlucky of any, for Aunt Katy had no good feeling for me; and if I pushed any of the other children, or if they told her anything unfavorable of me, she always believed the worst, and was sure to whip me."

The effect of all this on his childish mind is thus told:

"As I grew older and more thoughtful, I was more and more filled with a sense of my wretchedness. The cruelty of Aunt Katy, the hunger and cold I suffered, and the terrible reports of wrong and outrage which came to my ear, together with what I almost daily witnessed, led me, when yet but eight or nine years old, to wish I had never been born. I used to contrast my condition with the blackbirds, in whose wild and sweet songs I fancied them so happy! Their apparent joy only deepened the shades of my sorrow. There are thoughtful days in the lives of children—at least there were in mine—when they grapple with all the great primary subjects of knowledge, and reach in a moment, conclusions which no subsequent experience can shake. I was just as well aware of the unjust, unnatural, and murderous character of slavery, when nine years old, as I am now. Without any appeal to books, to laws, or to authorities of any kind, it was enough to accept God as a father, to regard slavery as a crime."

Douglass' remarks on the singing of slaves are very striking. Speaking of certain days of each month when the slaves from the different farms came up to the central plantation to get their monthly allowances of meal and meat, he says that there was always great contention among the slaves as to who should go up with the ox team for this purpose. He says:

"Probably the chief motive of the competitors for the place, was a desire to break the dull monotony of the field, and to get beyond the overseer's eye and lash. Once on the road with an ox team, and seated on the tongue of his cart, with no overseer to look after him, the slave was comparatively free; and, if thoughtful, he had time to think. Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work. A silent slave is not liked by masters or overseers. 'Make a noise,' 'make a noise,' and 'bear a hand,' are the words usually addressed to the slaves when there is silence amongst them. This may account for the almost constant singing heard in the southern states. There was generally more or less singing among the teamsters, as it was one means of letting the overseer know where they were, and that they were moving on with the work. But on allowance day, those who visited the great house farm were peculiarly excited and noisy. While on their way, they would make the dense old woods, for miles around, reverberate with their wild notes. These were not always merry because they were wild. On the contrary, they were mostly of a plaintive cast, and told a tale of grief and sorrow. In the most boisterous outbursts of rapturous sentiment, there was ever a tinge of deep melancholy. I have never heard any songs like those anywhere since I left slavery, except when in Ireland. There I heard the same wailing notes, and was much affected by them. It was during the famine of 1845–6. In all the songs of the slaves there was ever some expression in praise of the great house farm; something which would flatter the pride of the owner and possibly, draw a favorable glance from him.

"I am going away to the great house farm,
O yea! O yea! O yea!
My old master is a good old master,
O yea! O yea! O yea!

* * * * *

"I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meanings 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. They told a tale which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones, loud, long and deep, breathing the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirits, and filled my heart with ineffable sadness. The mere recurrence, even now, afflicts my spirit, and while I am writing these lines, my tears are falling. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conceptions of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds."

When Douglass was ten years old a great change took place in his circumstances. His old master sent him to Baltimore to be a family servant in the house of a family connection.

He speaks with great affection of his new mistress, Miss Sophia Auld. It is the southern custom for the slave to address a young married lady always by this maiden title. She had never before had to do with a slave child, and seemed to approach him with all the tender feelings of motherhood. He was to have the care of her own little son, some years younger, and she seemed to extend maternal tenderness to him. His clothing, lodging, food were all now those of a favored house boy, and his employment to run of errands and take care of his little charge, of whom he was very fond. The kindness and benignity of his mistress led the little boy to beg her to teach him to read, and the results are thus given:

"The dear woman began the task, and very soon, by her assistance, I was master of the alphabet, and could spell words of three or four letters. My mistress seemed almost as proud of my progress, as if I had been her own child; and supposing that her husband would be as well pleased, she made no secret of what she was doing for me. Indeed, she exultingly told him of the aptness of her pupil, of her intention to persevere in teaching me, and of the duty which she felt it to teach me at least to read the Bible. Here arose the first cloud over my Baltimore prospects, the precursor of drenching rains and chilling blasts.

"Master Hugh was amazed at the simplicity of his spouse, and probably for the first time, he unfolded to her the true philosophy of slavery, and the peculiar rules necessary to be observed by masters and mistresses, in the management of their human chattels. Mr. Auld promptly forbade the continuance of her instruction; telling her, in the first place, that the thing itself was unlawful; that it was also unsafe, and could only lead to mischief. To use his own words, further, he said, 'If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell; he should know nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world; if you teach that nigger'—speaking of myself—'how to read the Bible, there will be no keeping him; it would forever unfit him for the duties of a slave, and as to himself, learning would do him no good, but probably a great deal of harm—making him disconsolate and unhappy. If you learn him now to read, he'll want to know how to write; and this accomplished, he'll be running away with himself.' Such was the tenor of Master Hugh's oracular exposition of the true philosophy of training a human chattel; and it must be confessed that he very clearly comprehended the nature and the requirements of the relation of master and slave. His discourse was the first decidedly anti-slavery lecture to which it had been my lot to listen. Mrs. Auld evidently felt the force of his remarks; and, like an obedient wife, began to shape her course in the direction indicated by her husband. The effect of his words on me was neither slight nor transitory. His iron sentences, cold and harsh, sunk deep into my heart, and stirred up not only my feelings into a sort of rebellion, but awakened within me a slumbering train of vital thought. It was a new and special revelation, dispelling a painful mystery, against which my youthful understanding had struggled, and struggled in vain, to wit: the white man's power to perpetuate the enslavement of the black man. 'Very well,' thought I, 'knowledge unfits a child to be a slave.' I instinctively assented to the proposition; and from that moment I understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom."

But the desire of learning, once awakened, could not be hushed, and though Douglass' mistress forebore his teaching, and even became jealously anxious to prevent his making further progress, he found means to continue the instruction. With a spelling-book hid away in his bosom, and a few crackers in his pocket, he continued to get daily lessons from the street boys at intervals when he went back and forth on errands. Sometimes the tuition fee was a cracker, and sometimes the lesson was given in mere boyish good will. At last he made money enough to buy for himself, secretly, a reading book, "The Columbian Orator." This book was prepared for schools during the liberty-loving era succeeding the American revolution, when southern as well as northern men conspired to reprobate slavery. There consequently young Fred found most inspiring documents. There was a long conversation between a master and a slave where a slave defended himself for running away by quoting the language of the Declaration of Independence. Douglass also says of this book:

"This, however, was not all the fanaticism which I found in this Columbian Orator. I met there one of Sheridan's mighty speeches on the subject of Catholic Emancipation, Lord Chatham's speech on the American war, and speeches by the great William Pitt and by Fox. These were all choice documents to me, and I read them over and over again, with an interest that was ever increasing, because it was ever gaining in intelligence; for the more I read them the better I understood them. The reading of these speeches added much to my limited stock of language, and enabled me to give tongue to many interesting thoughts, which had frequently flashed through my soul, and died away for want of utterance."

All this knowledge and expansion of mind, of course produced at first intellectual gloom and misery. All the results of learning to read, predicted by the master, had come to pass. He was so morose, so changed, that his mistress noticed it, and showered reproaches upon him for his ingratitude. "Poor lady," he says, "she did not know my trouble and I dared not tell her—her abuse felt like the blows of Balaam on his poor ass, she did not know that an angel stood in the way."

"My feelings were not the result of any marked cruelty in the treatment I received; they sprung from the consideration of my being a slave at all. It was slavery—not its mere incidents—that I hated. I had been cheated. I saw through the attempt to keep me in ignorance; I saw that slaveholders would have gladly made me believe that they were merely acting under the authority of God, in making a slave of me, and in making slaves of others; and I treated them as robbers and deceivers. The feeding and clothing me well, could not atone for taking my liberty from me."

About this time Douglass became deeply awakened to religious things, by the prayers and exhortations of a pious old colored slave who was a drayman. He could read and his friend could not, but Douglass, now newly awakened to spiritual things, read the Bible to him, and received comfort from him. He says, "He fanned my already intense love of knowledge into a flame by assuring me that I was to be a useful man in the world. When I would say to him, how can these things be, his simple reply was, 'trust in the Lord.' When I told him that I was a slave FOR LIFE, he said: 'The Lord can make you free, my dear. All things are possible with him, only have faith in God. If you want your liberty, ask the Lord for it in faith, and HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.'" Cheered by this advice, Douglass began to offer daily and earnest prayers for liberty.

With reference to this he began to turn his thoughts towards acquiring the art of writing. He was employed as waiter in a ship yard, and watching the initial letters by which the carpenters marked the different parts of the ship, and thus in time acquired a large part of the written alphabet. This knowledge he supplemented by getting one and another boy of his acquaintance on one pretence or other, to write words or letters on fences or boards. Then he surreptitiously copied the examples in his little master's copy-book at home, when his mistress was safely out of the house, and finally acquired the dangerous and forbidden gift of writing a fluent, handsome current hand.

He had various reverses after this as he grew in age and developed in manliness. He was found difficult to manage, and changed from hand to hand like a vicious intractable horse. Once a celebrated negro breaker had a hand upon him, meaning to break his will and reduce him to the condition of a contented animal, but the old story of Pegasus in harness came to pass. The negro breaker gave him up as a bad case, and finally his master made a virtue of necessity, and allowed him to hire his own time. The bargain was that Douglass should pay him three dollars a week, and make his own bargains, find his own tools, board and clothe himself. The work was that of caulker in a ship yard. This, he says, was a hard bargain; for the wear and tear of clothing, the breakage of tools and expenses of board made it necessary to earn at least six dollars a week, to keep even with the world, and this per centage to the master left him nothing beyond a bare living.

But it was a freeman's experience to be able to come and go unwatched, and before long it enabled him to mature a plan of escape, and the time at last came when he found himself a free colored citizen of New Bedford, seeking employment, with the privilege of keeping his wages for himself. Here, it was that reading for the first time the Lady of the Lake, he gave himself the name of Douglass, and abandoned forever the family name of his old slaveholding employer. Instead of a lazy thriftless young man to be supported by his earnings, he took unto himself an affectionate and thrifty wife, and became a settled family man.

He describes the seeking for freeman's work as rapturous excitement. The thought "I can work, I can earn money, I have no master now to rob me of my earnings," was a perfect joyous stimulus whenever it arose, and he says, "I sawed wood, dug cellars, shoveled coal, rolled oil casks on the wharves, helped to load and unload vessels, worked in candle works and brass foundries, and thus supported myself for three years. I was, he says, now living in a new world, and wide awake to its advantages. I early began to attend meetings of the colored people, in New Bedford, and to take part in them, and was amazed to see colored men making speeches, drawing up resolutions, and offering them for consideration."

His enthusiasm for self-education was constantly stimulated. He appropriated some of his first earnings to subscribing for the Liberator, and was soon after introduced to Mr. Garrison. How Garrison appeared to a liberated slave may be a picture worth preserving, and we give it in Douglass' own words.

"Seventeen years ago, few men possessed a more heavenly countenance than William Lloyd Garrison, and few men evinced a more genuine or a more exalted piety. The Bible was his text book—held sacred, as the word of the Eternal Father—sinless perfection—complete submission to insults and injuries—literal obedience to the injunction, if smitten on one side to turn the other also. Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarism false and mischievous—the regenerated, throughout the world, members of one body, and the Head Jesus Christ. Prejudice against color was rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves, because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the Bible, were of their 'father the devil;' and those churches which fellowshipped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. Never loud or noisy—calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. 'You are the man, the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern Israel from bondage,' was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words; mighty in truth—mighty in their simple earnestness."

From this time the course of Douglass is upward. The manifest talents which he possessed, led the friends of the Anti-Slavery cause to feel that he could serve it better in a literary career than by manual labor.

In the year 1841, a great anti-slavery convention was held at Nantucket, where Frederick Douglass appeared on the stage and before a great audience recounted his experiences. Mr. Garrison followed him, and an immense enthusiasm was excited—and Douglass says: "That night there were at least a thousand Garrisonians in Nantucket." After this the general agent of the Anti-Slavery Society came and offered to Douglass the position of an agent of that society, with a competent support to enable him to lecture through the country. Douglass, continually pursuing the work of self-education, became an accomplished speaker and writer. He visited England, and was received with great enthusiasm. The interest excited in him was so great that several English friends united and paid the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds sterling, for the purchase of his liberty. This enabled him to pursue his work of lecturer in the United States, to travel unmolested, and to make himself every way conspicuous without danger of recapture.

He settled himself in Rochester, and established an Anti-Slavery paper, called Frederick Douglass' Paper, which bore a creditable character for literary execution, and had a good number of subscribers in America and England.

Two of Frederick Douglass' sons were among the first to answer to the call for colored troops, and fought bravely in the good cause. Douglass has succeeded in rearing an intelligent and cultivated family, and in placing himself in the front rank among intelligent and cultivated men. Few orators among us surpass him, and his history from first to last, is a comment on the slavery system which speaks for itself.

Phil. H Sheridan

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