Today in History: Frederick Douglas is Born. Abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman

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February 14, 1818 frederick-douglass-200

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. Born into slavery in Maryland, Douglass escaped north in 1838. Attending anti-slavery events he was encouraged to speak and became famous for his oratory. In 1845 he published the first account of his life, his writings are among the most influential personal accounts of slavery. Published abolitionist newspapers including the ‘North Star’. Appointed to many public offices by the government including President Lincoln. An Advocate for black and women’s sufferage.

Douglass initially lived with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey. At a young age, Douglass was selected to live in the home of the plantation owners, one of whom may have been his father. His mother, an intermittent presence in his life, died when he was around 10.

Frederick Douglass was eventually sent to the Baltimore home of Hugh Auld. It was there that Douglass first acquired the skills that would vault him to national celebrity. Defying a ban on teaching slaves to read and write, Auld’s wife Sophia taught Douglass the alphabet when he was around 12.

Douglass wrote several autobiographies. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. First published in 1881 and revised in 1892, three years before his death, it covered events during and after the Civil War.

Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances across racial and ideological divides, and in the liberal values of the American Constitution. When radical abolitionists, under the motto “No Union With Slaveholders”, criticized Douglass’ willingness to dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied: “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.

Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/frederick-douglass-9278324#synopsis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass

 

 

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