Harriet Bailey

Harriet Bailey was the mother of Frederick Douglass. She was an enslaved woman who gave birth to Douglass in 1818. However, at a young age Douglass was sent to live with his grandmother, Betsy Bailey, and only saw his mother on a few select occasions before her death.

“My knowledge of my mother is very scanty, but very distinct. Her personal appearance and bearing are ineffaceably stamped upon my memory. She was tall, and finely proportioned; of deep black, glossy complexion; had regular features, and, among the other slaves, was remarkably sedate in her manners.”[1]

“I learned, after my mother’s death, that she could read, and that she was the only one of all the slaves and colored people in Tuckahoe who enjoyed that advantage. How she acquired this knowledge, I know not.. I can, therefore, fondly and proudly ascribe to her an earnest love of knowledge.”[2]

Harriet Bailey died in 1825 at about the age of 33. She was likely buried on a slave graveyard on Holme Hill Farm. No trace of the cemetery exists today nor did it when Douglass returned there in 1878. This pin marks the entrance to the Holme Hill Farm where Harriet labored and died.

GPS coordinates: 38.887685, -75.960973

[1] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, ed. David W. Blight (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 44.

[2] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, ed. David W. Blight (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 48.

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