Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself

by Frederick Douglass
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In Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself, did Douglass ever work in the fields?

In Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself, Douglass worked in the fields for several years, first for the slave breaker Mr. Covey and later for Mr. Freeland.

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Douglass did work in the fields. Because he got into frequent arguments with his master and his master felt he needed to be "broken," he was sent to work in the fields for the year of 1833 under the command of Mr. Edward Covey, who had a reputation for breaking difficult slaves.

Douglass says he and the other slaves were worked very hard in the fields, from before dawn to after dusk. He was beaten often in the first months, primarily for not being accustomed to field work , which made him "awkward." Douglass says that at the end of six months, he was broken from overwork and harsh treatment and became little more than a "brute." At one time, when he fell down sick, he was kicked and hit on the head with a heavy piece of wood by Mr. Covey. Douglass tells, too, the story of finally fighting back against being beaten by Mr. Covey. This intimidated Covey, who did not beat him during his last months on the farm.

Douglass was then leased out to work on the farm of a Mr. Freeland. Mr. Freeland was a much kinder master than Mr. Covey. He gave the slaves enough to eat and did not overwork them.

In all, however, between his birth and his escape from slavery, Douglass spent little time working in the fields. He had the good fortune of living in Baltimore for seven years, avoiding farm labor, and later, having the skill to become a high paid calker, though he had to give his wages to his master.

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