Top Interesting Frederick Douglass Facts

Frederick Douglass is one of the most important people in African-American history. His life and achievements place him alongside Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists.

  1. An estimated date of birth for Frederick Douglass is 1818. Later on, he opted for February 14 as his birthday. His full name was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. Frederick’s mother was a slave on a plantation situated in Maryland. Nothing is known about his father.
  2. Betty Bailey was Frederick’s maternal grandmother and he lived with her. As soon as he turned 7, Douglass lived with the plantation owners. Then, when he was 10, Frederick’s mother died. Baltimore was the place Frederick was sent to some time later. The family he lived with was called Auld. The wife of Hugh Auld, the house’s owner, helped Douglass learn how to write and read. Doing this with a slave wasn’t allowed. As such, Sophia, his teacher, wasn’t allowed to do it anymoreFrederick-Douglass-young.
  3. Frederick continued to self-educate by observing white kids when they were studying. After becoming literate, he immersed himself in literature and newspaper articles talking about slavery. The concept of human rights shaped up in his mind during his reading of The Columbian Orator. According to him, the latter taught Frederick a lot on how to treat people. Soon, Douglass started to introduce slaves on William Freeland’s plantation to the joys of reading.
  4. Because slave owners didn’t agree with his lessons, Douglass had to move to a different plantation. His new owner was Edward Covey. He didn’t like Frederick’s strong personality, so he started to abuse him. In fact the beatings didn’t break his spirit. That is why he started to reply to his owner’s attacks by attacking him back. According to Frederick’s autobiography, Covey stopped abusing him from that day on.
  5. Frederick escaped his abuser in 1838. He tried leaving the plantation 2 times before that, without success. On his third (successful) attempt, Douglass received help from Anna Murray. Anna was a young Black woman who didn’t live as a slave. After less than a day, the two arrived in New York. There, Frederick lived in the house of David Ruggles. The latter was a well-known abolitionist.
  6. That same year, Frederick married the woman who had helped him escape. The pair lived in Massachusetts for a while under this family name: Johnson. This then turned into Douglass. The couple were parents to 5 children. The kids’ names were Annie, Rosetta, Frederick Jr., Lewis Henry, and Charles Redmond. Only the last 4 reached adulthood. Anna and Frederick were married for 44 years. When his wife died, Douglass met and married a white feminist. Her name was Helen Pitts.
  7. Frederick was a frequent participant in abolitionist meetings. The Liberator was one of the journals he subscribed to during that time. Because of his past as a slave, Frederick started to talk about his background.
  8. After a very short time of doing this, Douglass gained fame. The author of The Liberator mentioned him in one of his articles. The first speech Frederick ever gave was in Nantucket, during the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s annual convention. His words against slavery didn’t go well with the majority of slave owners.
  9. Frederick’s autobiography came out in 1845. It was called Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. It became a bestseller in the US. His book was also translated in a couple of European languages. There are 3 versions of his autobiography. Each of them was expanded and revised by the author himself. Here they are: My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881, revised in 1892).
  10. Frederick had to leave for Ireland and Britain that same year. There, he continued his delivery of speeches in which he condemned slavery.Frederick-Douglass
  11. In 1847, Douglass went for the US. This time, he was a free man. His supporters in Britain made that possible; they managed to gather enough money to buy Frederick’s legal freedom.
  12. Once in America, he created several abolitionist newspapers. Here they are: New National Era, The North Star, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, Frederick Douglass Weekly, and Douglass’ Monthly. Frederick also supported women’s rights, including the right to vote. The first ever women’s rights convention happened in 1848 in New York. Douglass participated and he was the only African American to do so. He even spoke during that event. Thanks to this, a resolution expressing the objective of women’s suffrage was successfully passed.
  13. The awful treatment of black soldiers during the Civil War was referred to in Frederick’s discussions with Abraham Lincoln. As a consequence, Lincoln created the Emancipation Proclamation. The document took effect in 1863. According to it, all slaves in Confederate territory had to be freed.
  14. After the war was over, Douglass became president of the Freedman’s Savings Bank. He was then appointed Chargé d’affaires for the Dominican Republic. He was also minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti. In 1872, Frederick received a nomination for vice president of the US. This made him the first African American to be nominated for such an important position. He didn’t campaign, though.
  15. 5 years later, Douglass reconciled with Auld.
  16. Frederick died in 1895. His remains are buried here: Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY. There are 2 monuments in his memory: the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

Here’s some interesting facts and information about Frederick Douglass:

  • after Lincoln died, the president’s wife sent Frederick his walking stick;
  • he and former president Andrew Johnson worked on giving members of the black community the right to vote.

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