How Long Would Douglass Be With Covey (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 year

Douglass or Frederick Douglass was born a slave. Douglass didn’t know the exact date of his birth, he never knew his father’s name, never saw his mother’s face after the age of seven. As a teenager, he taught himself to read. 

At first, he was in Mr. Thomas’ house, and then he went to live with Mr. Covey or Edward Covey. Frederick Douglass managed to be with Edward Covey for one year. 

At that time slave owners often made a point of separating families. Breaking family bonds increased dependence on slave owners. Slave owners maintained discipline through simple fear and destroying self-esteem. A slave was punished for not working hard and also for working too hard. Douglass experienced all of this and rebelled against it. 

How Long Would Douglass Be With Covey? 

EventTime 
Douglass lived with Covey1 year
For how many years Douglass is enslaved 7 years 

Douglass was born a slave. During his teenage years, he made himself read. Reading created a desire for freedom. When his owner Mr. Thomas got to know about this disturbing development, he sent him to live with a local farmer named Edward Covey. 

Edward Covey was such a person who was unpleasant and made extra money breaking the will of unruly slaves. Douglass went to live with Covey on the first of January in 1833.

Covey was very rude and cruel. He beat Douglass every week for six months, often for no reason. Douglass did undergo two near-death experiences while driving oxen. Covey took Douglass to the woods and beat him with switches. 

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Covey treated him dreadfully without showing mercy. With this, Douglass gave up all hope of being free. The first six months of working for Covey became the darkest days of slavery that Douglass ever experienced. 

Douglass was broken to the point of wanting to kill himself and Mr. Covey. He was so shattered that he gave up all hope of living. One hot August day in 1835, he fought back when Covey struck him. He was not sure where he found the courage.

Both of them fought for two hours until Covey stumbled away exhausted. He stood up for himself. After that day, Covey never laid a hand on him again. This was an important turning point in his life. He tried hard and finally made his escape from slavery in 1838.

Why Would Douglass Be With Covey For So Long? 

After sensing the disturbing development in Douglass, Mr.Thomas sent him to live with a very harsh and unkind local farmer as well as a slaveholder, Edward Covey. Douglass came to live with Covey but he could not tolerate the way Covey tortured him for a long time even without any mistake. 

Over six months, he was beaten brutally. He was afraid, weak, hopeless. Being a slaveholder, Covey behaved inhumanly. He was unexpectedly harsh and unkind towards Covey. 

Douglass, in a letter, wrote that he was broken in body, soul, and spirit, the dark night of slavery closed in upon him. His natural elasticity was crushed and his intellect languished, the disposition to read departed and a man transformed into a brute. 

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Despite all these, he somehow convinced himself to endure because he believed that after so many days of pain and struggle, days of happiness were coming. He was hopeful, full of courage and beliefs. 

If Covey would have not treated him this badly, then Douglass could have been with Covey for a little longer. As everything has a limit, Douglass’s patience in bearing Covey’s mistreatment also had a limit. When that limit was crossed Covey reacted oppositely. 

He could bear for half a year but after that Douglass fought back. Then he turned into a man from a slave. Then he wrote that his long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed and bold defiance took its place. 

Conclusion

Though one year is not that long, this one year feels like one thousand years if it is spent with pain, tears, sorrow, and cowardice. It is obvious that Frederick Douglass was with Edward Covey for a year only, but the pain and sorrow that Douglass got during this one year, made us feel like a thousand years. 

If Edward Covey had treated Douglass in a better way with mercy and humanity, Douglass’s life could have been something else. At the same time, if this had not happened this way, then Douglass could never be courageous and free from slavery. Hence, all’s well that ends well. 

References

  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.12987/9780300225297/html
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.12987/9780300235241/html
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