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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


I had somehow imbibed the opinion that, in the
absence of slaves, there could be no wealth, and very
little refinement. And upon coming to the north, I
expected to meet with a rough, hard-handed, and
uncultivated population, living in the most Spartan-
like simplicity, knowing nothing of the ease, luxury,
pomp, and grandeur of southern slaveholders. Such
being my conjectures, any one acquainted with the
appearance of New Bedford may very readily infer
how palpably I must have seen my mistake.

In the afternoon of the day when I reached New
Bedford, I visited the wharves, to take a view of the
shipping. Here I found myself surrounded with the
strongest proofs of wealth. Lying at the wharves, and
riding in the stream, I saw many ships of the finest
model, in the best order, and of the largest size.
Upon the right and left, I was walled in by granite
warehouses of the widest dimensions, stowed to their
utmost capacity with the necessaries and comforts
of life. Added to this, almost every body seemed to
be at work, but noiselessly so, compared with what
I had been accustomed to in Baltimore. There were
no loud songs heard from those engaged in loading
and unloading ships. I heard no deep oaths or horrid
curses on the laborer. I saw no whipping of men;
but all seemed to go smoothly on. Every man ap-
peared to understand his work, and went at it with
a sober, yet cheerful earnestness, which betokened
the deep interest which he felt in what he was doing,
as well as a sense of his own dignity as a man. To me
this looked exceedingly strange. From the wharves I
strolled around and over the town, gazing with won-
der and admiration at the splendid churches, beauti-
ful dwellings, and finely-cultivated gardens; evincing
an amount of wealth, comfort, taste, and refinement,
such as I had never seen in any part of slaveholding
Maryland.

Every thing looked clean, new, and beautiful. I
saw few or no dilapidated houses, with poverty-
stricken inmates; no half-naked children and bare-
footed women, such as I had been accustomed to see
in Hillsborough, Easton, St. Michael's, and Balti-
more. The people looked more able, stronger, health-
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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