The Freeland Farm
FREDERICK spent Christmas 1834 in St. Michaels with his family— and with the Aulds. The slaves were relieved of most work during the week between Christmas and New Year's. It was a time of respite and celebration—there was good food, there was good music—but Frederick may well have begun to form his later judgment that "these holidays ... [are] among the most effective means, in the hands of the slaveholders, of keeping down the spirit of insurrection among the slaves." In January, uncomfortable about having been vulnerable to Christmas cheer and Christian kindness, he left St. Michaels to begin work on another farm. Thomas Auld had hired him out to William Freeland—compared to Covey, a lenient master—for the year 1835.
From the worn old fields of the Freeland farm, Frederick Bailey could look out across the Chesapeake Bay. Once again, the beautiful expanse of water seemed to awaken something in him; indeed, here he was to have perhaps the most intense emotional experience of his life. Living on the Freeland farm for something over a year, he achieved friendship. "I had become large and strong," he wrote, "and had begun to take pride in the fact." And now the seventeen-year-old found himself working with other young men as restless, as energetic, as he.
John and Henry Harris were brothers owned by the Freelands; the others, like Frederick, had been hired. Handy Caldwell was a slave living nearby; Sandy Jenkins was the free black man who had given Frederick a root to protect him in his struggle with Edward Covey the year before.
The five made a kind of sport of their hard work, competing to see who could swing the widest scythe or hoist the heaviest heifer, but they