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Covey attacked Douglass and, for the first time, Douglass resolved to fight back. The men were locked in vicious combat. Covey told a man named Hughes to help him, but one kick from Douglass to Hughes stopped the interloper. Bill was told to help, but replied that he was not hired to whip Douglass. After two hours of combat the battle ended. Covey had not whipped Douglass at all. For the next six months Covey never laid another hand on Douglass.
This was a major turning point for Douglass; "it rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed self-confidence, and inspired me again with a determination to be free." He made it known that if a white man wanted to whip him, he better be prepared to kill him. He concluded that Covey never prosecuted him because he was afraid that his reputation as a slave-breaker would be diminished.