Frederick Douglass was an African American slave born sometime in 1818. Because he was a slave, he was not allowed to know who his father was, his age, or even his birthday! Douglass lived on many plantations since his master constantly hired him out. On one occasion, he was sent to a cruel slavebreaker named Covey whos job was to break Douglass’s spirit and diminish his hope for freedom. Covey failed to do this, and in January of 1834, Douglass went to live with Mr. Freeland, a slave owner who was kinder than Covey. As Douglass got older, he became less and less content with his life as a slave. He detested slavery, despised the way slaves were treated and didn’t care about the rules of being a slave, so he started a Sabbath School where he happily taught fellow slaves to read. When the school was shut down by slave owners, he was disappointed, but expected nothing less. Through the whole ordeal, Douglass’s desire freedom skyrocketed and he deemed it necessary to enlighten his fellow slaves and students with his will.
Douglass went to John and Henry. “John, Henry… aren’t you tired of the way that we are being treated? Don’t you want to escape, to leave this miserable life and start a new one?” Douglass asked. “Yes.” John and Henry replied simultaneously. “How would you feel about joining me in creating an escape plan?” Douglass inquired. “That sounds like a great idea.” Henry said. John nodded his head ‘yes’. Douglass continued to gather other slaves who desired freedom, and soon enough, he had a group. Brick walls stood in the group’s way, blocking their path to freedom, but that didn’t stop them from creating an escape plan. “Here’s the plan.” Douglass said. “We steal one of Mr. Hamilton’s large, wooden canoes and on the dark Saturday night before the Easter holiday, we paddle up the murky waters of the Chesapeake Bay. We will use the North Star as a guide to get us past Maryland. As you know, this is the safest route and I hope we will look like fishermen instead of runaways.”
“As a precaution, I have written everyone of us an identical protection. The protections say ‘This note is to prove that I, William Hamilton, have given my servant ..(name).. permission to go to Baltimore and spend the Easter holiday with Hugh. Near St. Michael's, in Talbot County, Maryland, 1835 -William Hamilton’.” Douglass said to his group. “Those are awesome!” John replied. “Thanks for doing everything you can to keep us safe.” Henry added. The protections were handwritten by quill in black ink on a weathered tan-colored page. The handwriting was neat and closely resembled Mr. Hamilton's. Anyone could mistake it for Mr. Hamilton's! “Remember,” Douglass added, “I created these protections in the case of inspection. Don't lose your protection because I only made one for each of you. If you lose it, you could be killed!”