Frederick Douglass was a leader in the abolitionist movement, an early champion the women’s rights and also author of ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.’

Who to be Frederick Douglass?

Abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass to be born into slavery sometime approximately 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland. He came to be one that the most renowned intellectuals of his time, advising presidents and lecturing to thousands top top a selection of causes, consisting of women’s rights and Irish house rule. 

Among Douglass’ works are number of autobiographies eloquently describing his experiences in slavery and his life after the civil War, including the renowned work Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

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Early Life

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey to be born around 1818 into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland.  together was often the situation with slaves, the specific year and also date the Douglass' birth space unknown, though later in life he decided to celebrate it on February 14. 

Douglass at first lived v his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey. In ~ a young age, Douglass to be selected come live in the residence of the plantation owners, one of whom may have been his father. 

His mother, who was an intermittent presence in his life, passed away when he was approximately 10.


Frederick Douglass

Photo: arsenal of the national Museum of afri American background and Culture, 2010.36.10ab

Learning to Read and Write

Defying a half on teaching slaves to read and write, Baltimore slaveholder Hugh Auld’s mam Sophia taught Douglass the alphabet as soon as he was about 12. Once Auld forbade his mam to offer an ext lessons, Douglass ongoing to learn from white children and others in the neighborhood.

It to be through reading that Douglass’ ideology system opposition to slavery began to take shape. That read newspapers avidly and also sought the end political writing and also literature as lot as possible. In later years, Douglass credited The Columbian Orator with clarifying and defining his views on person rights.

Douglass shared his newfound expertise with other enslaved people. Hired out to wilhelm Freeland, he taught various other slaves top top the plantation to check out the new Testament at a weekly church service. 

Interest to be so great that in any week, much more than 40 servants would to visit lessons. Back Freeland did not interfere through the lessons, other neighborhood slave owner were much less understanding. Armed with clubs and stones, they dispersed the congregation permanently.

With Douglass moving in between the Aulds, the was later on made to work-related for Edward Covey, who had a reputation as a "slave-breaker.” Covey’s continuous abuse virtually broke the 16-year-old Douglass psychologically. Eventually, however, Douglass dealt with back, in a scene rendered powerfully in his very first 

After losing a physics confrontation v Douglass, Covey never beat that again. Douglass tried come escape from enslavement twice prior to he finally succeeded.

Wife and Children

Douglass married Anna Murray, a cost-free Black woman, top top September 15, 1838. Douglass had actually fallen in love through Murray, who assisted him in his final attempt to escape enslavement in Baltimore. 

On September 3, 1838, Douglass boarded a train to Havre de Grace, Maryland. Murray had listed him with few of her savings and a sailor's uniform. He lugged identification papers obtained from a free Black seaman. Douglass make his means to the safe home of abolitionist David Ruggles in new York in less than 24 hours.

Once he had actually arrived, Douglass sent out for Murray to accomplish him in brand-new York, whereby they married and adopted the surname of Johnson come disguise Douglass’ identity. Anna and Frederick then worked out in brand-new Bedford, Massachusetts, which had a thriving cost-free Black community. There they adopted Douglass as their married name.

Douglass and Anna had actually five kids together: Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Redmond and also Annie, who died at the age of 10. Charles and also Rosetta assisted their father in the production of his newspaper The north Star. Anna stayed a faithful supporter that Douglass' windy work, despite marital strife brought about by his relationships with several various other women.

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After Anna’s death, Douglass married Helen Pitts, a feminist from Honeoye, brand-new York. Pitts was the daughter that Gideon Pitts Jr., an abolitionist colleague. A graduate of mountain Holyoke College, Pitts worked on a radical feminist publication and also shared plenty of of Douglass’ moral principles. 

Their marital relationship caused substantial controversy, since Pitts to be white and also nearly 20 years younger than Douglass. Douglass’ youngsters were specifically displeased through the relationship. Nonetheless, Douglass and Pitts remained married till his death 11 year later.


After settling as a complimentary man through his mam Anna in new Bedford in 1838, Douglass was eventually asked come tell his story at abolitionist meetings, and also he came to be a regular anti-slavery lecturer. 

The founder of the weekly journal The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison, to be impressed with Douglass’ strength and rhetorical skill and also wrote of that in his newspaper. Numerous days ~ the story ran, Douglass ceded his very first speech at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's annual convention in Nantucket. 

Crowds were not always hospitable to Douglass. When participating in an 1843 great tour through the Midwest, Douglass was chased and also beaten by an upset mob before being rescued by a regional Quaker family.