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THE GREAT FREDERICK DOUGLASS

​Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass audio book

​Frederick Douglass documentary from the A&E channel

Frederick Augustus Douglass       1818-1895









Frederick Augustus Douglass was one of history's best known black abolitionists.  He was a great speaker, writer, and public servant.  He was able to move masses of people with his commanding voice and intelligence.

Frederick was born a slave in Maryland.  He knew very little about his mother and father.  As a child he was treated very badly.  Sometimes, so as to not go hungry he had to battle his master's dogs for food.

When he was about eight years old, Frederick was sent to be a houseboy for the Auld family in Baltimore, Maryland.  This move made life much easier for him.  Mrs. Sophia Auld liked Frederick very much and started teaching him to read and write.  However, Mr. Hugh Auld found out and angrily objected, he made his wife stop the lessons.  But, by this time, Frederick had learned enough to continue to teach himself.

When he was about fifteen, he was sent to another master at a different plantation.  Life on this plantation was much harder and brutal.  After four years, Fredrick and some other slaves tried to escape, but failed.  He was punished, beaten, and sent back to Baltimore.  There, he worked in a shipyard as a caulker.  During this time, he met a free black woman, Anna Murray.  Encouraged by Anna, he dressed up as a free black sailor and escaped to New York.  There, he married Anna Murray and they moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In New Bedford, Douglass began reading the anti-slavery paper the Liberator.  He also started going to anti-slavery meetings.  Douglass was a tall man with a rich and powerful speaking voice.  He had excellent command of the English language.  He was so eloquent that when he spoke about his life a slave, many people doubted him.

In 1845, Douglass wrote his own story,  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,  so that people would believe his story of being a slave.  Because his book revealed that he was a runaway slave, he fled to England.  While there for two years, he became legally free.  He then returned to America.  

In Rochester, New York, Douglass started publishing his own newspaper, the North Star.  In his paper, which lasted from 1847 to 1863, he wrote against slavery.  He also wrote about the Fugitive Slave Act and its unfairness to black workers.  He even used his printing shop as an Underground Railroad station for slaves escaping to the North.

In the North, there were laws known as "Jim Crow Laws."  They were established to keep blacks out of such public places as restaurants and shops.  Douglass challenged these laws by going to places where blacks were not allowed.

Douglass was glad when the Civil War started.  He believed that the war would help free the slaves.  During the Civil War, Douglass closed down his newspaper.  To help blacks win their freedom, he recruited soldiers for the Union Army and even signed up his two sons. 

Slavery ended with the Civil War.  But Douglass kept on writing and speaking out for the rights of blacks, women, and for world peace.  From 1871 to 1891, he held four very important government jobs.  Some people thought that he would stop speaking out while he was working for the government but he did not.  He believed that Black Americans must constantly demand their rights.

Active all his life, he even made a major speech on the day he died, Feb 20, 1895.  In 1955, the United States government honored Douglass by making his home in Anacostia, D.C. a national monument.  A bridge in Washington, D.C. is named after him, and a special postage stamp honoring him was issued in 1967.  

Excerpt from - A Gift of Heritage Historic Black Abolitionists

This is only a summary of the Great Frederick Augustus Douglass