Frederick Douglass

* Douglass was born in February 1818 but the date is not known. Later in life he chose to celebrate it on Feb 14th.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born in slavery as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton, Talbot County, Maryland. He was not sure of the exact date of his birth, but knew the year was 1817 or 1818. As a young boy he was sent to Baltimore to be a house servant, where he learned to read and write, with the assistance of his master's wife. In 1838, he escaped from slavery and went to New York City, where e married Anna Murray, a free black woman whom he had met in Baltimore. Soon thereafter he changed his name to Frederick Douglass. In 1841, he addressed a convention of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Nantucket and so greatly impressed the group that they immediately employed him as an agent. He was such an impressive orator that numerous persons doubted if he had ever been a slave, so to document his life experiences, he wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845). During the Civil War he assisted in the recruiting of colored men for the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Regiments and consistently argued for the emancipation of slaves. After the War, he was active in securing and protecting the rights of the freemen, as well as for women's suffrage, supporting Elizabeth Cady Stanton's first women's convention in 1848 to ratify The Declaration of Sentiments. He was the first African American to be nominated for president, in 1888. Douglass is featured in our study guides, Realism and Feminist Literature.

In his later years, at different times, he was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, marshall and recorder of deeds of the District of Columbia, and United States Minister to Haiti. His other autobiographical works include My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881) and his essay, My Escape from Slavery (1881). Douglass died in 1895.

Source: The biographical sketch above is taken from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself.

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