Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 122 pages of information about Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

Every year brings with it multitudes of this class of slaves.  It was doubtless in consequence of a knowledge of this fact, that one great statesman of the south predicted the downfall of slavery by the inevitable laws of population.  Whether this prophecy is ever fulfilled or not, it is nevertheless plain that a very different-looking class of people are springing up at the south, and are now held in slavery, from those originally brought to this country from Africa; and if their increase do no other good, it will do away the force of the argument, that God cursed Ham, and therefore American slavery is right.  If the lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scripturally enslaved, it is certain that slavery at the south must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who, like myself, owe their existence to white fathers, and those fathers most frequently their own masters.

I have had two masters.  My first master’s name was Anthony.  I do not remember his first name.  He was generally called Captain Anthony—­a title which, I presume, he acquired by sailing a craft on the Chesapeake Bay.  He was not considered a rich slaveholder.  He owned two or three farms, and about thirty slaves.  His farms and slaves were under the care of an overseer.  The overseer’s name was Plummer.  Mr. Plummer was a miserable drunkard, a profane swearer, and a savage monster.  He always went armed with a cowskin and a heavy cudgel.  I have known him to cut and slash the women’s heads so horribly, that even master would be enraged at his cruelty, and would threaten to whip him if he did not mind himself.  Master, however, was not a humane slaveholder.  It required extraordinary barbarity on the part of an overseer to affect him.  He was a cruel man, hardened by a long life of slaveholding.  He would at times seem to take great pleasure in whipping a slave.  I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood.  No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose.  The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest.  He would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush; and not until overcome by fatigue, would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin.  I remember the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition.  I was quite a child, but I well remember it.  I never shall forget it whilst I remember any thing.  It was the first of a long series of such outrages, of which I was doomed to be a witness and a participant.  It struck me with awful force.  It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery, through which I was about to pass.  It was a most terrible spectacle.  I wish I could commit to paper the feelings with which I beheld it.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.