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Fri, 02.14.1817

Frederick Douglass, Humanitarian born

Frederick Douglass

*Frederick Douglass was born on this date in 1817. He was a Black abolitionist, orator, and writer.

From Tuckahoe, Maryland, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was the son of a slave. As a young boy, he was sent to Baltimore to be a house servant. It was here that learned to read and write with the help of his masters' wife. He escaped slavery in 1838 by reaching New Bedford, Massachusetts, during this time he married Anna Murray.  He had five children with his first wife Anna: Lewis, Frederick Jr., Charles, Rosetta, and Annie.

Following an antislavery convention in 1841, he became an agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. His work for the Underground Railroad did much to further the cause of the abolitionists and made his name a symbol of freedom. In 1845 Douglass went to England to escape the danger of Fugitive Slave Laws. His lectures on the question of slavery in the United States prompted many to raise funds to purchase his freedom.

After returning to the United States in 1847, Douglass became the leader of the Underground Railroad in Rochester, New York. There he established the abolitionist newspaper North Star. During the presidential election of 1860, Douglass campaigned for Abraham Lincoln. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, he helped raise two regiments of Black soldiers. After the war, Douglass fought for the enactment of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Douglass' first wife, Anna Murray Douglass, died on August 4, 1882. After a year of depression, Douglass married Helen Pitts on January 24, 1884. They were married by the Rev. Francis J. Grimké.  He later served in governmental positions, including U.S. minister to Haiti. Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery and urged other Blacks to do likewise died in 1895 in Washington D.C.


Black First:
2,000 years of extraordinary achievement
by Jessie Carney Smith
Copyright 1994 Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI
ISBN 0-8103-9490-1

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