Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave

  • Chapter 1

  • Fredrick Douglass

    I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot County, Maryland.

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    Profile Picture of Fredrick Douglass in Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave
  • I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.

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  • By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant.

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  • I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday.

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  • They seldom come nearer to it than planting-time, harvest-time, cherry-time, spring-time, or fall-time.

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  • A want of information concerning my own was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood.

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  • The white children could tell their ages.

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  • I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege.

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  • I was not allowed to make any inquiries of my master concerning it.

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  • He deemed all such inquiries on the part of a slave improper and impertinent, and evidence of a restless spirit.

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  • The nearest estimate I can give makes me now between twenty-seven and twenty-eight years of age.

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  • I come to this, from hearing my master say, some time during 1835, I was about seventeen years old.

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  • Fredrick Douglass

    My mother was named Harriet Bailey.

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    Profile Picture of Fredrick Douglass in Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave
  • She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark.

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  • My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather.

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  • My father was a white man.

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  • He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage.

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  • The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father;

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  • but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing;

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