English

Question

Where is Frederick Douglass living in "My Bondage and My Freedom"?

1 Answer

  • Frederick Douglass' second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom, significantly revises key portions of his original 1845 Narrative and extends the story of his life to include his experiences as a traveling lecturer in the United States as well as England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Douglass also frames his second autobiography differently, replacing the prefatory notes by white abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips with an introduction by the prominent black abolitionist Dr. James M'Cune Smith. While the appendix to his first autobiography serves primarily as a clarification about Douglass' views on religion, the appendix to My Bondage and My Freedom includes a letter to a former master, Thomas Auld—a ship captain—and various excerpts from Douglass' abolitionist lectures. These prefaces and appendices provide the reader with a sense of the larger historical movement(s) in which Douglass plays an important part. Douglass later expanded and republished this autobiography twice more, in 1881 and 1892, both under the title Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

    Like Douglass's earlier Narrative, My Bondage and My Freedom begins with his birth in Tuckahoe, Maryland, but the revised version offers many additional details. In Chapter 1, Douglass remembers his grandmother, Betsey Bailey, at length: "Grandmammy was . . . all the world to me; and the thought of being separated from her, [for] any considerable time . . . was intolerable". However, when he is around seven years old, his grandmother takes him to live on the plantation of Colonel Edward Lloyd, and they are indeed separated, leaving young "Fed" with no family except for his brothers and sisters, of whom he notes, "slavery had made us strangers"Douglass acknowledges that "it was sometimes whispered that my master was my father," but he cannot confirm the accuracy of this rumor, for "slavery does away with fathers, as it does away with families" . In describing his early life on the plantation, Douglass expands the material from the first five chapters of his 1845 Narrative—including the death of his mother, descriptions of brutal overseers, and the whipping of Aunt Esther (

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