Douglass knows only that his father is a white man, though many people say that his master is his father. He explains that slaveholders often impregnate their female slaves. A law ensures that mixed-race children become slaves like their mothers. Thus slaveholders actually profit from this practice of rape, as it increases the number of slaves they own. Douglass explains that such mixed-race slaves have a worse lot than other slaves, as the slaveholder’s wife, insulted by their existence, ensures that they either suffer constantly or are sold off. Douglass considers that the existence of such a large population of mixed-race slaves contradicts arguments that justify American slavery through the supposed inferiority of the African race.Douglass’s first master is Captain Anthony. The Captain’s overseer, Mr. Plummer, is a drunk and a cruel man who carries a whip and cudgel with him and often uses them on slaves. The Captain himself is cruel as well. Douglass recalls the Captain frequently whipping Douglass’s Aunt Hester.
Douglass recalls feeling like both a witness to and a participant in the abuse the first time he ever saw it. He remembers this moment as his introduction into the hellish world of slavery. Douglass cannot, even now, describe what he felt while watching Aunt Hester’s whipping.Douglass recalls a particularly violent episode of the Captain whipping Aunt Hester. The Captain calls for Hester at night and finds that she has gone out with a slave named Ned, against the Captain’s orders. Douglass implies that the Captain has a particular sexual interest in Hester, who is quite beautiful. The Captain brings Hester home, strips her to the waist, ties her, and whips her until her blood drips on the floor. Young Douglass is so terrified by the scene that he hides in a closet, hoping he will not be whipped next.Summary: Chapter IIDouglass’s master, Captain Anthony, has two sons, Andrew and Richard, and a daughter, Lucretia, who is married to Captain Thomas Auld. They all live together in one house on a central plantation owned by Colonel Lloyd. Colonel Lloyd employs Captain Anthony as superintendent, meaning thatAnthony supervises all of Lloyd’s overseers. Lloyd’s plantations raise tobacco, corn, and wheat. Captain Anthony and his son-in-law, Captain Auld, take the goods by ship to sell in Baltimore.Lloyd owns about three to four hundred slaves in total. All slaves report to Lloyd’s central plantation for their monthly allowances of pork or fish andcorn meal. Slaves receive one set of linen clothing for the year. Adult slaves receive one blanket, but no bed. The floor is uncomfortable, but the slaves are so exhausted from work that they hardly notice. The overseer of Captain Anthony’s farm is Mr. Severe—an appropriate name for such a cruel man. After Severe dies, Mr. Hopkins replaces him as overseer. Hopkins is less cruel and profane than Severe and is considered a fair overseer.