Frederick Douglass was an African American slave in the United States in the 1800's. He was one of the foremost leaders petitioning against slavery. Douglass publicized his views through writing, reading, and speaking and was always the center of attention. In 1838 he escaped from slavery and spent the rest of his life establishing himself as a public speaker and advocate abolitionist. Douglass set himself apart from other slaves of that time through his numerous accomplishments including learning how to read and write, his relationship with his master, Master Covey, and vast knowledge through traveling.
Douglass's first accomplishment was learning how to read and write. One of Douglass's primary beliefs was that literacy was power (Blight, David 4). He was able to write books and speeches describing his struggles with the rest of the world. He was taught how to read by a mistress named Sophia Auld in 1827 while enslaved, which was very unusual at the time (Douglass 57).
Sophia had no idea that she was helping teach a genius of that time. When Douglass first met Sophia, he was amazed by her look and awareness. When Mr. Auld found out what p. 2 was going on, he forbid her to teach any longer. Mr. Auld said, "If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master-to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world" (Douglass 57). Not many slaves were taught how to read and write or even how to speak correctly. This was an opportunity of a life time that Douglass took. Douglass stated that from that moment on he understood the pathway from slavery to freedom (Douglass 56). It was this that changed Douglass's life forever.