Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Thomas Auld violates one of the few rules of decency that most slave owners adhere to. What is this unspoken rule, and how does it affect Douglass?

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Not to give a slave enough to eat, is regarded as the most aggravated development of meanness even among slaveholders. The rule is, no matter how coarse the food, only let there be enough of it. This is the theory; and in the part of Maryland from which I came, it is the general practice,—though there are many exceptions. Master Thomas gave us enough of neither coarse nor fine food. There were four slaves of us in the kitchen—my sister Eliza, my aunt Priscilla, Henny, and myself; and we were allowed less than a half of a bushel of corn-meal per week, and very little else, either in the shape of meat or vegetables. It was not enough for us to subsist upon.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass