Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
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In 1838 Douglass was becoming restless, wondering why he needed to keep giving the contents of his purse to his master. He believed he should try and hire himself out in order to save more money for his escape. When Master Thomas came to town, Douglass inquired if he would hire Douglass out, but the man refused, calling it a "stratagem by which to escape" and encouraged Douglass to remain content with his situation.
Because slave owners keep their slaves ignorant of their birth dates.