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A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass$
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Neil Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175621

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175621.001.0001

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The Fight with Covey

The Fight with Covey

(p.61) 2 The Fight with Covey
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass

Bernard R. Boxill

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter chronicles Frederick Douglass’s change from staunch pacifism to a support of violent resistance for slaves against their masters as a result of his fight with the slave breaker Edward Covey. Douglass started as a Garrisonian abolitionist and pacifist who warned other blacks not to fight their masters, thinking that violent revolt would only delay the progress of slavery’s abolition. However, as he became more of an educated man, his hatred of slavery grew, and so he encouraged slaves to rise up against their masters as an act of self-defense. This drastic change in belief—which marked a departure from the Garrisonian position—shows itself in Douglass’s fight against Covey. The consequences of this fight were not only Douglass’s victory and Covey never whipping Douglass again, but also Douglass’s rethinking the meaning of freedom.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, Edward Covey, slaves, slavery, resistance, abolition, fight, Garrisonian, post-Garrisonian, freedom

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