Category Archives: Frederick Douglass

The true reason why Frederick Douglass gave his heart to Anna Murray

Rosetta Douglass Sprague wrote in the memoir about her mother, Anna Murray Douglass, that young Frederick Bailey “gave his heart” to Anna Murray, and she “sympathized with him and she devoted all her energies to assist him” to escape slavery in Baltimore.

Why Anna Murray?

Because she was the girl from down home in Tuckahoe Neck.

Continue reading The true reason why Frederick Douglass gave his heart to Anna Murray

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Meet the young black woman from Caroline County who helped Frederick Douglass escape

She was born free in Caroline County.  He was born across the river in Talbot, enslaved.

They followed separate paths to Baltimore.  Anna met Frederick for the first time at the city wharves.  He was 19, she was 24.

Frederick was an enslaved shipbuilder.   Anna had a day job and her own business.  She had means.  She told him he should escape his bondage and live free.

Anna would lose everything if caught aiding and abetting a slave’s escape.  She gave him sailor’s clothes for disguise, money for the trip north, and contacts with the Underground Railroad.

Continue reading Meet the young black woman from Caroline County who helped Frederick Douglass escape

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Who made you free?

Who made you free, young Alexander?
Your enslaved father?
Your freed mother?

How were you free, Alexander?
Free to sit beside the Tuckahoe,
read holy books and
toss pebbles into the water,
listen to Aunt Hester’s screams on
 the other side?

Free to walk away from the Tuckahoe and never return?
But you did return.

It’s 1821.    Here.


Bishop Wayman at Tuscola ILThe Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland

  Continue reading Who made you free?

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Kentucky Ravine and Muddy Shore

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape



Douglass wrote:

“The old cabin, with its rail floor and rail bedsteads upstairs, and its clay floor downstairs, and its dirt chimney, and windowless sides, … was MY HOME–the only home I ever had; and I loved it, and all connected with it.  The old fences around it, and the stumps in the edge of the woods near it, and the squirrels that ran, skipped, and played upon them, were objects of interest and affection.  There, too, right at the side of the hut, stood the old well.”  (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 2)

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Aunt Bettie’s Lot and Cabin

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape


Douglass wrote:

“[My life] began in the family of my grandmother and grandfather, Betsey and Isaac Baily. They were quite advanced in life, and had long lived on the spot where they then resided. They were considered old settlers in the neighborhood…  The dwelling of my grandmother and grandfather had few pretensions. It was a log hut, or cabin, built of clay, wood, and straw. …  My grandmother–whether because too old for field service, or because she had so faithfully discharged the duties of her station in early life, I know not–enjoyed the high privilege of living in a cabin, separate from the quarter…”   (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch.1)
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Levi Lee’s Mill

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 
Douglass wrote:
“Down in a little valley, not far from grandmammy’s cabin, stood Mr. Lee’s mill, where the people came often in large numbers to get their corn ground.  It was a watermill; and I never shall be able to tell the many things thought and felt, while I sat on the bank and watched that mill, and the turning of that ponderous wheel.  The mill-pond, too, had its charms; and with my pinhook, and thread line, I could get nibbles, if I could catch no fish.”  (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 2) Continue reading Levi Lee’s Mill
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Aaron Anthony’s Holme Hill Farm

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 

 Douglass wrote:

“As I grew larger and older, I learned by degrees the sad fact, that the “little hut,” and the lot on which it stood, belonged not to my dear old grandparents, but to some person who lived a great distance off, and who was called, by grandmother, ‘OLD MASTER.'”   (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch.1)

“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.”   (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, ch. 1)
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Wye House

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 
Douglass wrote:

“My master was the [overseer] on the home plantation of Col. Edward Lloyd; had overseers on his own farms; and gave directions to overseers on the farms belonging to Col. Lloyd.  This plantation is situated on Wye river — the river receiving its name, doubtless, from Wales, where the Lloyds originated.  They (the Lloyds) are an old and honored family in Maryland, exceedingly wealthy.  The home plantation, where they have resided, perhaps for a century or more, is one of the largest, most fertile, and best appointed, in the state.”  (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch 2)
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Lloyd’s Long Woods

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

Douglass described the day his grandmother led him to Wye plantation, where he would begin life as a working slave:

“The distance from Tuckahoe to Wye river–where my old master lived–was full twelve miles, … my dear old grandmother– blessings on her memory!–afforded occasional relief by “toting” me (as Marylanders have it) on her shoulder.  … we happened to pass through portions of the somber woods which lay between Tuckahoe and Wye river.  She often found me increasing the energy of my grip, and holding her clothing, lest something should come out of the woods and eat me up.  Several old logs and stumps imposed upon me, and got themselves taken for wild beasts.  I could see their legs, eyes, and ears, or I could see something like eyes, legs, and ears, till I got close enough to them to see that the eyes were knots, washed white with rain, and the legs were broken limbs, and the ears, only ears owing to the point from which they were seen.”   (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 2)

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Between Easton and Hillsboro, there is no Tuckahoe.

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 

Frederick Douglass told a Baltimore audience  in 1877:

“I am an Eastern Shoreman, with all that name implies. Eastern Shore corn and Eastern Shore pork gave me my muscle. I love Maryland and the Eastern Shore!”

Douglass also wrote:

I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot county, Maryland.  (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, ch. 1)

Continue reading Between Easton and Hillsboro, there is no Tuckahoe.

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