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Chapter 4 with Mr. Gore

Frederick Douglass

Mr. Gore was proud, ambitious, and persevering.

He was artful, cruel, and obdurate. He was just the

man for such a place, and it was just the place for

such a man. It afforded scope for the full exercise

of all his powers, and he seemed to be perfectly

at home in it. He was one of those who could torture

the slightest look, word, or gesture, on the part of

the slave, into impudence, and would treat it ac-

cordingly. There must be no answering back to him;

no explanation was allowed a slave, showing himself

to have been wrongfully accused. Mr. Gore acted

fully up to the maxim laid down by slaveholders, --

"It is better that a dozen slaves should suffer under the

lash, than that the overseer should be convicted, in

the presence of the slaves, of having been at fault."

No matter how innocent a slave might be -- it availed

him nothing, when accused by Mr. Gore of any

misdemeanor. To be accused was to be convicted,

and to be convicted was to be punished; the one

always following the other with immutable certainty.

To escape punishment was to escape accusation; and

few slaves had the fortune to do either, under the

overseership of Mr. Gore. He was just proud enough

to demand the most debasing homage of the slave,

and quite servile enough to crouch, himself, at the

feet of the master. He was ambitious enough to be

contented with nothing short of the highest rank

of overseers, and persevering enough to reach the

height of his ambition. He was cruel enough to in-

flict the severest punishment, artful enough to de-

scend to the lowest trickery, and obdurate enough to

be insensible to the voice of a reproving conscience.

He was, of all the overseers, the most dreaded by

the slaves. His presence was painful; his eye flashed

confusion; and seldom was his sharp, shrill voice

heard, without producing horror and trembling in

their ranks