Hugh Auld's wife, Sofia, started to teach Douglass the alphabet, despite the fact that it was against the law to teach slaves to read. Frederick and Mrs Auld grew very close and Douglass described her as a kind and tender-hearted woman, who treated him the way one human being ought to treat another. When Hugh Auld discovered his wife's activity, he strongly disapproved, saying that if a slave learned to read, he would become dissatisfied with his condition and desire freedom.
Douglass continued, secretly, to teach himself how to read and write. Mrs. Auld one day saw Douglass reading a newspaper; she ran over to him and snatched it from him, with a face that said education and slavery were incompatible with each other.
Even though Douglass only self taught himself to read, soon he was fluent enough to read full texts. He began to read newspapers, political materials, and and any and every book he could get his hands on. This new found realm of information that was before blocked off to him started to make him think and challenged his young twelve-year-old mind. This new information source led him to question and condemn the institution of slavery.
When Douglass was hired out to William Freeland, he taught other slaves on the plantation he was working in to read the New Testament at a weekly Sunday school. Word began to spread, and the interest among slaves in learning to read was so great that in any week, more than 40 slaves would attend these lessons. For about six months, this practice went mostly unnoticed.
In 1833, Thomas Auld reclaimed his slave back from his brother Hugh after a dispute. Dissatisfied with…