The exact date of Frederick Douglass’ day of birth isn’t exactly known, but most historians point to February 1818 as birthday month and year. On what would have been the 200th birthday for the famed leader, we take a brief look back at his life and achievements.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery in the Eastern Shore region of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland in Talbot County. As a boy of around eight, Douglass was sent to live and work in Baltimore for a ship carpenter who taught him how to read and write. Douglass was eventually sent back down South, witnessing the horrors of slavery firsthand.
Douglass began hatching a plan to escape while working the docks in Baltimore and eventually made his way North in 1836. He settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts with his new bride joining the growing abolitionist movement while continuing to educate himself. His bond with white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison helped him become thea leading voice in the anti-slavery movement.
In 1845, Douglass, by now known as a powerful writer and speaker, published his autobiography, The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, As Written By Himself to critical acclaim. In Europe’s abolitionist circles, Douglass became a popular orator wowing crowds with his account of slavery and the inhumane conditions slaved lived under.
After the Civil War, Douglass helped recruit Black soldiers for the North’s Union Army to take on and defeat Confederate forces. Douglass continued to work to improve the lives of all African-Americans.
Douglass became the first Black Vice-Presidential nominee for the Equal Rights Party in 1872 after Victoria Woodhull named him to the ticket without his knowledge or consent, according to accounts.
Douglass would go on to pen more works and speeches, and his “North Star” paper that began in 1847 morphed into the popular “Frederick Douglass’ Paper” that ran until 1860.
Douglass passed in Washington, D.C. in 1895
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