Frederick Douglass

By: Christopher Schmidt

Early Life

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery sometime in 1818 in the town of Tuckahoe , Maryland(the exact date is still unknown, he would later choose to celebrate it on February 14). He was fathered by the plantation owner and lived with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey.His mother died when he was around age ten. He learned how to read from the slave owners wife Sophia(stepmother). He did not receive a formal college education due to his status, but constantly sought out literature in libraries and newspapers. After two attempts, he finally escaped his plantation with his future wife, Anne Murray

Later Years

After his escape, he campaigned across the country, identifying as an abolitionist and a civil rights activist. He gave many speeches, telling people of the conditions that slaves faced and how horrible the practice truly was. Many people believed him, due to the fact that he was an ex-slave himself. He was featured several times in William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator. This gained him a lot of attention, seeing as Garrison was a very prominent abolitionist figure at the time. Douglass would soon go on to run two of his own newspapers, The North Star, and the New National Era. He would also publish three separate autobiographies, making revisions as his life progressed, the first one being Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. His subsequent biographies were titled My Bondage and My Freedom(1855), and Life and Times Frederick Douglass(1881).

In addition to petitioning for black rights, Douglass also was a supporter of women’s rights. He was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls convention of 1848. His movement believed that slavery should be eradicated, and that blacks should have equal standing with whites, in areas such as voting, owning property, and having a job. Unfortunately, Douglass suffered a heart attack\stroke on his way home from a DC conference on February 20, 1895 at the age of 81. He is buried in Mount Hope cemetery in Rochester, NY.