Frederick Douglass

About Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, the son of an unknown white father and a black mother (Harriet Bailey), in Maryland in 1818. He spent the first 20 years of his life in America as a slave, working as a house servant, a field hand, and a shipyard laborer. During his childhood, a kindly mistress taught him the alphabet while he was in her service, and he then taught himself to read and write. He was imprisoned in his teens for twice attempting to run away, but in 1838 he finally escaped bondage and married a free African American woman name Anna Murray. They settled in Massachusetts, where he took the name Frederick Douglass.

He became a full-time agent for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and by the mid-1840s, he was famous for his eloquence and powerful oratory. He went on to become a writer, editor and public servant. To refute rumours that he had never been a slave, he wrote and published, in 1845, his story of being in bondage. Its title was Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. However, fears that the book would bring about his arrest, led him to flee to Britain, where he spent the next two years lecturing on the evils of slavery. One of the places where he stayed was 5 Whitehead’s Grove in 1846, now the site of Nell Gwynn House.

The money he earned speaking out against slavery allowed him to purchase his freedom. He returned to the U. S. in 1847, started a anti-slavery News Paper called the North Star which he published for the next 17 years. During the Civil War (1861-65) he urged African Americans to take up arms in support of the Union, and helped organize two regiments. The African American contribution helped to decide the outcome of the American civil war.

In 1872 Douglass was nominated to be the US vice president with the Freedom and Equalities party, and 4 years later became the first African American to receive a nomination for the presidency of the US. He was very politically active in his final years, holding a number of federal jobs, the last one as U. S. minister to Haiti (1889-91).
He died on Feb. 20, 1895,