Frederick Douglass


These two readings were in some ways alike, but as a whole they were very different. Douglass’s memories of his life as a slave was very dark and dreary like a Steven King novel; he dwelled on a lot of the negative things that he witnessed while under slavery. Alston’s article was set on a positive note, there was talk about slaves who were able to converse with their masters, the slave kids who were allowed to play games, sing and dance, and as a whole enjoy a few years of a childhood.


There are in some ways that Douglas’s story agree with Alston’s article, there were all the whippings and beatings of slaves. One would receive a beating by disobeying the master, the mistress or their children, or for not accomplishing what they were told to do, there was abuse among the slaves that was well stated in both documents. One thing that was missing from Douglass’s writing was that his story of plantation life was very grim and abusive, Alston told of children playing games and not really having to do any work till they were around the age of six.


One reason that these two may have had a different childhood was maybe because of the region where they were slaves, that is something that has to be taken into consideration. Maybe slave owners who were closer to the coast were very strict and didn’t care for their slaves, but the slave-owners who were more inland were not as strict and would provide for their slaves. I recall Alston saying something about how the rich slave-owners were decent to their slaves and how the slave-owners who were poor were very mean and strict with their slaves. That is something that needs to be considered before making any assumptions.


Douglass did have a time when he was content (I don’t say happy because Douglass never really seems to be happy, until after he runs north) he was sent to Baltimore and was a slave who received a bit of an education, up until that point he had no idea there were letters. The Alston article never talks of a slave receiving any bit of teachings, the owners tried to keep the slaves ignorant, so that the slaves wouldn’t be able to connive an escape, even though that had nothing to do with it.


Life as a child slave more than likely wasn’t as good as that of a slave-owners child, but in some aspects I bet there were times when there was a smile on the faces of the slaves, and a lot of the times there were frown on their faces, but either way they made the most with what they had and they learned how to fool the “white horses.”


Alston paints a picture of little slave kids running around playing “anti-over” and gathering together singing songs without the owners giving them a beating for it. Alston also says that yes, the mother and her infant were separated, but they were still kept together within the same ownership. Douglass talks of how the infants were taken away from their mother soon after birth and then taken off to another place.


Douglass’s view on slavery was very negative, more because his experiences were bad; he was with a slave-owner who didn’t care for his slaves. The Alston view on slaver wasn’t positive, but he talked more upon the positive things that happened in slavery. The one thing that has to be noted is that who knows who is correct maybe slavery was all grim and terrible, but maybe there were times when the slaves had time when they could sing and dance and play games, who knows.