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Frederick Douglass who grew up as a slave in Maryland in the early nineteenth century and experienced slavery’s every brutality. He was taken from his mother when he was only an infant. For years as a child, all he had to eat was runny corn meal dumped in a trough that kids fought to scoop out with oyster shells. He worked in the hot fields from before sunup until after sundown. He was whipped many times with a cowhide whip until blood ran down his back, kicked and beaten by his master until he almost died, and attacked with a spike by a gang of whites.

But even so, when Frederick considered trying to escape to freedom, he struggled with the decision. He writes in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave that he had two great fears.

The first was leaving behind his friends:

I had a number of warm-hearted friends in Baltimore—friends that I loved almost as I did my life—and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression. It is my opinion that thousands would escape from slavery, who now remain, but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their friends.

His second fear was this: "If I failed in this attempt, my case would be a hopeless one—it would seal my fate as a slave forever."



 Citation: Kevin A. Miller, editor and author, Wheaton, Illinois