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Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (February 14, 1818 - February 20, 1895) was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, near Hillsboro. Later in life he became an American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman, and reformer. Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African-American history and United States history. He was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was fond of saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

When Douglass was about twelve, a white woman started teaching him the alphabet, thereby breaking the law against teaching slaves to read. When her husband discovered this, he strongly disapproved, saying that if a slave learned to read, he would become dissatisfied with his condition and desire freedom. Douglass later referred to this statement as the first anti-abolitionist speech he had ever heard. Douglass succeeded in learning to read from white children in the neighborhood and by observing the writings of men with whom he worked.

As he learned and began to read newspapers, political materials, and books the young Douglass was exposed to a new realm of thought that led him to question and then condemn the institution of slavery. In later years, Douglass would credit The Columbian Orator with clarifying and defining his views of freedom and human rights.

At the age of 20, Douglass successfully escaped slavery by boarding a train to Maryland, dressed in a sailor's uniform and carrying identification papers provided by a free black seaman. He then continued by train to Wilmington, Delaware. From there he went by steamboat to Philadelphia, and eventually reached New York. The entire journey took less than 24 hours.

Douglass became a well-known public speaker and the publisher of a series of newspapers: The North Star, Frederick Douglass Weekly, Frederick Douglass' Paper, Douglass' Monthly and New National Era. The motto of The North Star was "Right is of no Sex — Truth is of no Color — God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren."

Douglass conferred with President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 on the treatment of black soldiers, and with President Andrew Johnson on the subject of black suffrage. His early collaborators were the white abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips. At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Douglass became the first African-American to get a vote for President of the United States in a major party's roll call vote.

The above information is based on the Douglass article on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, based on the GNU Free Documentation License.

Links:

Works by Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass NHS - Douglass' Life

Frederick Douglass NHS - Cedar Hill National Park Service

Mr. Lincoln's White House: Frederick Douglass

Mr. Lincoln and Freedom: Frederick Douglass


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. . . If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad



Caught in the Rebel Camp: Frederick Douglass (Trailblazer Books #40)



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