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Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American abolitionist, editor, author, salesman, and reformer. Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African American history and a formidable public presence. He was a firm believer in equality of all people whether they were black, women, native Americans or immigrants. He was fond of saying “I would unite with anybody to do right and nobody to do wrong. ” Frederick was born a slave in Maryland.
He was only with his mother for a couple of weeks, he was raised by his grandparents.
His mother, Harriot Bailey, died when he was only seven years old. The identity of his father is obscure. It was said that his father was a white man, perhaps his owner. He later said he knew nothing about his father. At the age of six his grandmother took him to the plantation and left him there. At the age of eight he was sent to Baltimore to live with his owners brother Hugh Auld.
It was shortly after he arrived that Mrs Auld started to teach him the alphabet and how to read.
Her husband thought it was wrong saying that he would become dissatisfied with his life and have a desire for freedom. Hugh forbid his wife to continue so Douglass took it upon himself to learn. The white kids in the neighborhood helped him learn and in return Douglass would give away his food. At the age of twelve he purchased a book called The Columbian Orator.
It helped him to gain a different look and understanding on the power of the written and spoken words. Frederick returned to the eastern shore at the age of fifteen he became a field hand.
During this time he had an encounter with the “slave breaker” Edward Covey. Covey restored his sense of self-worth after the fights. At the age of eighteen he was sent back to live with the Auld family. In September 1838 he succeeded in escaping from slavery by impersonating a sailor. he then moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts where he and his newly married wife Anna Murray begin to raise a family. When he had a chance, he went to abolitionist meetings. In October 1841 after one of the meetings he became a lecturer. He became partners with William Lloyd Garrison.
This work led him to public speaking and writing. He also participated in the very first woman’s right conventions. He also wrote three autobiographies starting with Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass followed by My Bondage and my Freedom in 1855 and ending with Life and Times of Frederick Douglass which he wrote after the civil war in 1892. When he returned to the United States he published his own newspaper “The North Star”. Douglass was recognized all over the world as an uncompromising abolitionist, indefatigable worker for equal opportunity and justice.
Douglass fought for equality for his people. He was also recognized for a defender of women’s rights. Douglass became a trusted advisor of Lincoln, recorder of Deeds for Washington, D. C, United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, and Minister-General to the Republic of Haiti. In 1872 Douglass was the first African American to receive a nomination for Vice President of the United States. During the campaign, he neither campaigned for the ticket nor even acknowledged that he had been nominated. In 1877 he was appointed to United States Marshal.
He was appointed to the Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia in 1877. After his wife died in 1882 he was in a state of depression until his associate Ida B Wells brought meaning back to life for him. Douglass remarried in 1884 to Helen Pitts, a white feminist from New York. The couple faced a storm of controversy as a result of their marriage since she was a white woman and nearly 20 years younger than him. Later in life Douglass was determined to find out his birthday. He adopted February 14th because of his mother, she used to always call him her little valentine.
On February 20th 1895 Douglass attended a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington D. C. Shortly after the meeting he returned home, Douglass died of a stroke or a massive heart attack in his adopted home town of Washington D. C. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York. Frederick Douglass was sought to exemplify three keys for success. Believe in yourself, Take advantage of every opportunity, and Use the power of spoken and written language to effect positive change for yourself and society.
Douglass also stated that ” Whatever is possible for me is possible for you”. By taking these key words and making them his own, Douglass created a life of honor, respect and success that he never would have dreamed of when he was a younger boy living on the plantation. Works Cited http://www. frederickdouglass. org/douglass_bio. html Douglass, Frederick Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Christian Age Office. 1895 <http://www. history. rochester. edu/class/douglass/part4. html. > Fight for Emancipation. Accessed April 19, 2007.
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