Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Character List

Frederick Douglass

The author of the work, Douglass was a famed orator, writer, abolitionist, and reformer. He tells his life's story from birth to his introduction into the abolitionist circles of Massachusetts. He narrates his experiences as a slave, his move to Baltimore, how he taught himself how to read and write, his passage from childhood and ignorance to adulthood and self-realization, his foiled escape attempt, and his final successful escape attempt, followed by a short discussion of his time in the North. Douglass the "character" is seen to be patient, industrious, intelligent, impassioned, caring, and spiritual. He wrote that he derived great pleasure from communion with his enslaved brethren, and loved teaching them how to read and write. He was a deeply religious man but criticized the hypocritical Christianity of slaveholders.

Harriet Bailey

Douglass's mother. She worked for Mr. Stewart on a neighboring farm and traveled by night to see Douglass a handful of times before she died of a long illness. Douglass did not feel like he knew her very well and came to understand that the estrangement of mothers and children was one of the worst aspects of slavery.

Betsey Bailey

Douglass's maternal grandmother. She was married to a free man, Isaac Bailey, and was owned by Aaron Anthony. A midwife, she also had twelve children of her own. She was passed to several masters and eventually was turned out of the plantation to live alone in a small hut in the forest. Her poverty, loneliness, and feebleness of body, and the lack of gratefulness and sympathy on behalf of the slaveholders she had worked for, caused Douglass much rage and distress.

Isaac Bailey

Douglass's paternal grandfather. He was a free man and worked as a sawyer on the farms of Anthony and Lloyd.

Captain Anthony

Douglass's first master, Captain Aaron Anthony was the clerk and superintendent on Colonel Lloyd's farm. He was not a rich slaveowner, but moderately wealthy. He was not humane and did not interfere when his overseers were cruel to his slaves. He had two sons and a daughter and son-in-law.

Mr. Plummer

The overseer on Captain Anthony's farm when Douglass was young. He was a drunkard and a blasphemer, given to intense bouts of violence and depravity.

Colonel Lloyd

One of the largest landowners and slaveowners in Maryland, Colonel Lloyd employed Douglass's first master, Captain Anthony. Douglass lived on the Great House Farm, the main plantation home of Lloyd's large landholdings. He was a charter member in the Maryland Agricultural Society, a Republican delegate to the state legislature, a U.S. Congressman, the governor of Maryland, and a U.S. Senator.

Thomas Auld

The brother-in-law of Hugh Auld with whom Douglass lived for a period of your time. He was cruel, mean, merciless, and cowardly. Since he was not used to having slaves, he was incapable of managing them properly "either by force, fear, or fraud" (43). He never gave them enough to eat and worked them too hard. What Douglass loathed most about him was his conspicuous hypocrisy regarding religion; he claimed to be pious and devoted to Christianity but was demonstrably brutal and duplicitous. He eventually sent Douglass to live with Edward Covey, the famed slave-breaker.

Lucretia Auld

Captain Anthony's daughter and the wife of Captain Thomas Auld. After the deaths of her father and brother Richard, she and her brother Andrew inherited their father's estate. Douglass was considered part of the estate, but to his delight he escaped living with Andrew and was returned to Hugh Auld in Baltimore, the brother of Lucretia's husband. She died not long after this separation of assets.

Richard Anthony

The second-eldest of Captain Anthony's sons.

Andrew Anthony

One of Captain Anthony's sons.

Mr. Severe

The overseer at the Great House Farm. He was cruel and conscienceless, as well as an unbelievably profane man. He died not long after Douglass arrived at Colonel Lloyd's.

Mr. Hopkins

The overseer at Colonel Lloyd's who replaced Mr. Severe. He was better than his predecessor and was generally liked by the slaves. He found no pleasure in disciplining them.

Mr. Austin Gore

The overseer at Colonel Lloyd's plantation when Douglass was a young child, Gore was "proud, ambitious, and persevering" (24) as well as "artful, cruel, and obdurate" (24). He was a young man but quite serious and humorless. He was merciless in his treatment of the slaves, tolerating no critique of his behavior. Douglass saw him as a savage barbarian and a master of deceit.

Hugh Auld

The brother-in-law of Thomas Auld, husband of Lucretia Anthony. Douglass lived with Auld and his wife in Baltimore for two periods of time. Auld was not particularly cruel, but he was firmly entrenched in the world of slavery and forbade Douglass from learning his ABCs because he knew that would make his young slave intractable and unhappy. Later, when Douglass was sent back to him after his escape attempt, he assisted him after being beaten up at Gardner's on Fell Point and allowed him to hire himself out for work.

Mrs. Auld

Sophia Keithley Auld married Hugh Auld and was Douglass's mistress in Baltimore. Before her marriage she worked as a weaver. She treated him kindly and respectfully when he first moved in with the family, but soon fell prey to the downfalls of slavery. She became cruel and controlling, especially after her husband forbade her to teach Douglass his ABCs. However, she and Douglass stayed in contact even when he moved to the North, and her son told Douglass that she had always spoken of him kindly.

Rowena Hamilton

The second wife of Thomas Auld.


A young woman owned and frequently beaten by Thomas Auld. She was disliked by her master because she was essentially useless, having burned herself terribly as a child. The last record of Henny found her a free black living in St. Michaels.

Edward Covey

Known for being a consummate "slave-breaker," Covey was a poor man and a farm renter. Thomas Auld sent Douglass to him in order to avail him of his insolence. Covey was a hard worker and was thus intensely critical of his slaves; he spied on them and tolerated no laziness or perceived autonomy. He professed to be religious, but was a hypocrite and a blasphemer. Douglass was never more broken and despairing than while at Covey's farm, but eventually proved his mettle by fighting back against him and not allowing himself to be whipped.

Sandy Jenkins

A slave owned by William Groomes and hired out to farmers in Talbot County, Jenkins had a free wife whom he visited frequently. He counseled Douglass to keep a root with him to protect him from being touched by slaveholders. He initially agreed to participate in the escape but then decided against it.

William Freeland

A slaveholder with whom Douglass lived for a short time following his time with Covey. Freeland was an "educated southern gentleman" (57) and did not possess the evil traits of most slaveholders. He did not profess to be religious and had traits of humanity and kindness. He fed his slaves enough and Douglass considered him the best master he had.

Henry Harris

A slave on Mr. Freeland's farm who attempts to participate in Douglass's escape attempt. The two men were very close friends and Douglass helped him learn how to read and write.

John Harris

A slave on Mr. Freeland's farm who attempts to participate in Douglass's escape attempt. The two men were very close friends and Douglass helped him learn how to read and write.

Handy Caldwell

A hired slave on William Freeland's farm.

Henry Bailey

Douglass's uncle who belonged to Thomas Auld. He participated in Douglass's aborted escape attempt.

Charles Roberts

The husband of Douglass's aunt, he was owned by Charles Hamilton and participated in Douglass's aborted escape attempt.

Mr. Gardner

A ship-builder on Fell's Point to whom Master Hugh hires Douglass out. Douglass's time at Mr. Gardner's is brief, as he is attacked by white men who fear the competition of free blacks in the workplace.

David Ruggles

Sought Douglass out when he moved to New York and took him to his boarding-house. Later he assisted Douglass in moving to New Bedford. Ruggles was a free black man who was active in the antislavery movement. He lectured, spoke, and was a traveling agent for a reform publication. He also worked on the Underground Railroad. He was afflicted by temporary blindness in 1842 and would suffer from complications for the rest of his life.

Anna Douglass

Formerly Anna Murray, she married Douglass on September 15th, 1838. She was a free woman.

Nathan Johnson

An abolitionist man who took in Douglass and his wife when they arrived in New Bedford. His reading of "Lady in the Lake" inspired Frederick, then known as Johnson, to take the surname Douglass from then on.


One of Colonel Lloyd's slave who was murdered by overseer Gore. Demby ran into a creek to put a stop to a whipping. Gore gives Demby to the count of three to come back so he could resume the whipping. Demby refuses and is coolly shot dead. No punishment comes to Gore. Douglass uses this story to illustrate the fact that whites could kill blacks with impunity.