Frederick (né Bailey) Douglass, like many enslaved Africans, was separated from his mother, and did not know who his father may have been nor his actual birthdate. Raised in Maryland, Frederick Bailey was taught by one of his owners to read, an illegal act since it threatened slavery—literacy might lead to slaves' demands for freedom. After being beaten and abused daily by a different owner, Frederick Bailey ran away to New York City and changed his name to Douglass in 1838. By 1841 he had come to the attention of abolitionists in Massachusetts, and William Lloyd Garrison supported Douglass' interest in the work of the American Anti-Slavery Society. It was Douglass' ability to convey his experiences as an enslaved person and his hope as a free person that brought greater attention to the anti-slavery cause and resulted in Douglass crafting his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, in 1945.
Shortly afterward Douglass headed to England, where his success allowed him to raise awareness, have his freedom purchased, and obtain the funds to return to the US and start a newspaper, the North Star. He supported the involvement of former slaves in joining the Union side during the American Civil War. Douglass was later assigned to a number of posts, including US Minister to Haiti.
Celebrating Emancipation Day
Scroll down to "Celebrating Emancipation Day," an article that offers a brief account of Frederick Douglass and Josiah Henson celebrating the 20th anniversary of British Emancipation at the Dawn Settlement in 1854. From Heritage Matters, a publication of the Ontario Heritage Foundation.
Read the full text of the 1845 autobiography The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Written by Himself. From Google Books.
Legacy in Light: Frederick Douglass
Scroll down to pages 32 and 33 to view a photograph of Frederick Douglass and an accompanying description of this item. From the book Legacy in Light: Photographic Treasures from Philadelphia Area Public Collections. From Google Books.
What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?
An article about Frederick Douglass's Fourth of July address that focuses on the abolition of enslavement. Includes a reference to enslaved Africans fleeing to Canada. From Time magazine.