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sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver
trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal
wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear
no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and
seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment
me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw
nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without
hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It
looked from every star, it smiled in every calm,
breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence,
and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of
being free, I have no doubt but that I should have
killed myself, or done something for which I should
have been killed. While in this state of mind, I was
eager to hear any one speak of slavery. I was a ready
listener. Every little while, I could hear something
about the abolitionists. It was some time before I
found what the word meant. It was always used in
such connections as to make it an interesting word
to me. If a slave ran away and succeeded in getting
clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a
barn, or did any thing very wrong in the mind of a
slaveholder, it was spoken of as the fruit of ~abolition.~
Hearing the word in this connection very often, I set
about learning what it meant. The dictionary af-
forded me little or no help. I found it was "the act
of abolishing;" but then I did not know what was
to be abolished. Here I was perplexed. I did not
dare to ask any one about its meaning, for I was
satisfied that it was something they wanted me to
know very little about. After a patient waiting, I got
one of our city papers, containing an account of the
number of petitions from the north, praying for the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and
of the slave trade between the States. From this
time I understood the words ~abolition~ and ~abolition-
ist,~ and always drew near when that word was spoken,
expecting to hear something of importance to my-
self and fellow-slaves. The light broke in upon me
by degrees. I went one day down on the wharf of
Mr. Waters; and seeing two Irishmen unloading a
scow of stone, I went, unasked, and helped them.
When we had finished, one of them came to me
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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