Was the slave-master relationship always negative?
Slavery is by far the biggest tragedy in American history and was one of the worst displays of humanity in history. Furthermore, the slaves had as much respect given to them as the family if not less. On the other hand, Fredrick Douglas was an exception because he gained his master’s respect and/or fear. Although 99.9 percent of slaves were treated like dirt or as if they were three fifths of a man, there were a few slaves who did develop a rapport with their masters.
Slavery is the biggest blemish on America’s blemish filled history. This was a time where people treated there fellow humans as animals. The slave owners used to beat, kill, overwork, starve and oppress there slaves. It got to the point where slaves would jump off the ship that was taking them to America because they thought that it was a better death. The treatment of the slaves was best described by Howard Zinn. Zinn wrote, “The slaves were made serfs and chained to the soil. . . . Such was the boasted freedom acquired by the colored man at the hands of the Yankee.” (Chapter 9 in Howard Zinn). This shows how awful the slaves were treated and just to be chained to the soil was an acquired freedom.
Not all slaves were treated like animals. For example, Fredrick Douglas was looked upon rather well as a slave. Obviously he was still treated awfully but not nearly as bad as the other slaves. Furthermore, Fredrick Douglas was taught how to read and write by his master’s mistress. Additionally, Fredrick Douglas gained a certain amount of respect from his master, Mr. Covey, when Douglas struck him. Mr.Covey never punished Douglas because of fear for his reputation and his respect for Douglas. Douglas described his experience as, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” (page 57). This shows that by striking Mr.Covey and learning to read and rite made him a man again.
Fredrick Douglas used his ability to write to bring awareness to the problem that was slavery. By writing this book he shined a spotlight on slavery. He became a huge proponent of the abolitionist movement. The abolitionists were an anti-slavery group that was a key part in the abolition of slavery. Without these skills Douglas would not have been able to write his book and slavery would have gone on for much longer.
In summation, Slavery was a debacle in American history but one slave’s relationship with his master’s mistress helped educate most Americans to the true horrors of slavery. This should not overshadow the atrocity of slavery but it should be noted that this master and slave relationship actually helped end slavery. Finally, a master and slave’s relationship was not always negative because Douglas’s relationship with Mr.Covey is what propelled him to escape which allowed Douglas to change American history.