Frederick Douglass In 'The Columbian Orator'

Words: 458
Pages: 2

Frederick Douglass started his journey toward achieving literacy when he arrived in Baltimore to be a caregiver for Hugh Auld’s son, Thomas. Being a slave in Baltimore was an entirely different experience than Douglass had ever known with his previous masters. Slaveholders in urban areas were less likely to whip their slaves due to the close proximity of the houses; it was viewed as unsavory. Furthermore, there were fewer slaveholders in the Baltimore area than further South, and Douglass noted that his master’s wife “had been in a good degree preserved from the blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery,” (pg.47) and was less accustomed to the attitudes that were encouraged of slaveholders. Therefore, Sophia Auld treated Douglass with a …show more content…
Now that he had a taste of the power that comes from reading and writing, Douglass sought out resuming his education through befriending the local white schoolboys in the neighborhood. Though many of them sympathized with Douglass, he often had to trick them into teaching what they knew or trade food. With their assistance, Douglass succeeded in learning to read. Additionally, he acquired few novels that he reread countless times. Among them was a book titled “The Columbian Orator” which consisted of a dialogue between a slave and his master in which the master presents an argument defending slavery, and the slave counters and effectively denounces it. After learning how to read, Douglass desired the ability to write. He managed to learn 4 letters (S, F, L, A) by observing the writing of ship carpenters. The rest he managed through the further assistance of neighborhood boys and by getting hold of his master’s son’s old spelling books and diligently practicing. Over the course of several years, his knowledge was cemented. Learning how to read and write changed Douglass just in the way that his master predicted: he became restless, consumed with the possibility of