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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


employment of Mr. Walter Price. There I was im-
mediately set to calking, and very soon learned the
art of using my mallet and irons. In the course of
one year from the time I left Mr. Gardner's, I was
able to command the highest wages given to the
most experienced calkers. I was now of some impor-
tance to my master. I was bringing him from six
to seven dollars per week. I sometimes brought him
nine dollars per week: my wages were a dollar and
a half a day. After learning how to calk, I sought
my own employment, made my own contracts, and
collected the money which I earned. My pathway
became much more smooth than before; my condi-
tion was now much more comfortable. When I could
get no calking to do, I did nothing. During these
leisure times, those old notions about freedom would
steal over me again. When in Mr. Gardner's employ-
ment, I was kept in such a perpetual whirl of ex-
citement, I could think of nothing, scarcely, but
my life; and in thinking of my life, I almost forgot
my liberty. I have observed this in my experience
of slavery,--that whenever my condition was im-
proved, instead of its increasing my contentment,
it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to
thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found
that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to
make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his
moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to
annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to
detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made
to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought
to that only when he ceases to be a man.

I was now getting, as I have said, one dollar and
fifty cents per day. I contracted for it; I earned it;
it was paid to me; it was rightfully my own; yet,
upon each returning Saturday night, I was compelled
to deliver every cent of that money to Master Hugh.
And why? Not because he earned it,--not because
he had any hand in earning it,--not because I owed
it to him,--nor because he possessed the slightest
shadow of a right to it; but solely because he had
the power to compel me to give it up. The right of
the grim-visaged pirate upon the high seas is exactly
the same.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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