Frederick Douglass – abolitionist and reformer
Frederick Douglass was an American writer, educator, abolitionist, editor, and speaker. He was one of the most famous fighters for the rights of the black population of America, the head of the Negro liberation movement. Douglass was the first African American citizen to hold an important position in the U.S. government. Born a slave, Frederick Douglass became the most prominent African-American voice for abolition in the 19th century.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (his real name) was born on February 14, 1818 in Talbot County (Maryland). His mother was a slave. He never knew his father, who was a white man. He lived with his grandmother, Betty Bailey. His mother died when Douglass was about seven years old and the boy was sent to Baltimore to serve Hugh and Sophia Auld.
When Douglass was about twelve years old his owner, Sofia Auld, began to teach him the alphabet, despite the fact that the law forbade teaching slaves to read and write.
When Frederick became William Freeland’s slave, he taught other slaves to read the New Testament in Sunday school. According to some reports, he taught more than 40 slaves. When other owners learned about the school they became furious and wanted to stop the meetings.
In 1837, Douglass met Anna Murray, a free black woman who was five years older and fell in love with her. He married Anna and they settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
He was born a slave, but in 1838 Frederick fled to the North, where he began to fight against slavery. One of his statements is “knowledge is the road from slavery to freedom”.
In 1847, Frederick began to publish The North Star newspaper, which became one of the leading anti-slavery institutions. During the American Civil War of 1861-1865 he put forward the slogan of immediate emancipation of the slaves. He also participated in the formation of the first Negro regiments. He also defended the rights of women.
During the American Civil War Douglass organized two black Army units. He also tried to get equal pay for black soldiers. He was a consultant to President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1845 he wrote an autobiography The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
Frederick Douglass died of a heart attack on February 20, 1895 in Washington, D.C.