When he was eight, he was sent to Baltimore to live as a houseboy with Hugh and Sophia Auld, relatives of his master. It was shortly after his arrival that his new mistress taught him the alphabet. When her husband forbade her to continue her instruction, because it was unlawful to teach slaves how to read, Frederick took it upon himself to learn.
He made the neighborhood boys his teachers, by giving away his food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing. At the age of twelve, Douglass purchased a copy of The Columbian Orator, a popular schoolbook of time. Even at that age, Douglass understood the power of words. and determined to learn everything he could.
Frederick Douglass lived by three philosophies:
- Believe in yourself.
- Take advantage of every opportunity.
- Use the power of spoken and written language to effect positive change for yourself and society.