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Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass rose from slavery on Maryland's Eastern Shore to become one of America's leading black abolitionists, orators, and fighters for social justice. He was born Frederick Baily in 1818, and after a career as a field and house slave, the young man escaped from Baltimore in 1838. Changing his name in an attempt to elude slave-catchers, Douglass moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and became involved in the abolitionist movement. By 1841 the abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison had hired the articulate Douglass as an anti-slavery lecturer, and he became an immediate sensation. But many whites doubted that the literate ex-slave could in fact have been so recently a bondsman. Determined to clear his name, Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. After lecturing in England, Douglass began his own abolitionist newspaper in Rochester, New York. In 1848 he showed his support for women's struggle for social equality by attending the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. By 1851 Douglass had broken with Garrison's dictum that abolitionists should reject the political system and rely upon moral suasion. In 1860 he supported the Republican Abraham Lincoln in his campaign for the presidency.

See also: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

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©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project