Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

What happened to Douglass in January 1833?


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Douglass was sent to live with Mr. Edward Covey in January 1833, and found himself a field hand for the first time in his life. He was not prepared for this, and he was certainly not prepared for the brutal whipping he received from his new master. He was given the task of taking an unbroken team of oxen to get a load of firewood, but the stubbornness of the creatures led to two near-death experiences for the young Douglass. Covey would listen to none of his explanations, however, and told Douglass he would show him how "to trifle away my time, and break gates." Douglass tried to refuse but to no avail, and was whipped several times for minor offenses over the next few months.