frederick douglass

Frederick Douglass was one of the most important black leaders of the
Antislavery movement. He was born in 1817 in Talbot County, MD. He was the son
of Harriet Bailey and an unknown white man. His mother was a slave so therefore
he was born a slave. He lived with his grandparents until the age of eight, so
he never knew his mother well. When he turned eight, he was sent to "Aunt
Kathy," a woman who took care of slave children on the plantation of
Colonel Edward Lloyd. When he was nine, he was sent to Baltimore where he lived
with Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Auld.

He started to study reading with Mrs. Auld but Mr. Auld forbid it. However,
he still managed to learn anyway. To cause him to comply with slavery more
easily, Mr. Auld sent to him to Edward Covey, a man who specialized in breaking
down the spirits of rebellious slaves, or a "slave breaker." While
there, he was beaten daily for the slightest offense against the strict rules.
One day he finally fought back in a fight that lasted two hours, and forced
Covey to stop trying to "break" him. He was returned to Auld, where he
was sent to a shipyard to learn the caulker\'s trade. But that didn\'t stop his
education, he not only learned caulking but he also learned to write by tracing
the letters on the ship front. Using seaman\'s papers given to him by a free
black he escaped by sea. He tried to get work as a caulker but racial
discrimination forced him to become a common laborer. To avoid being taken back,
he changed his last name to Douglass.

He soon became a large part of the antislavery movement when he came in
association with The Liberator, which belonged to William Lloyd Garrison, and he
also joined the black Garrisonians of New Bedford. He attended the Massachusetts
Anti- Slavery Society in Nantucket, in 1841. When they asked him to speak, he
spoke of his experiences as a slave. His speech made a deep impression, and the
society hired him as a full-time speaking agent. He spoke at many conventions
and spoke against slavery and the rights of free blacks. Sometimes white mobs
broke up his conventions but he continued as a lecturer. He soon became one of
the leading black abolitionists and on of the most famous lecturers of that time
period. As his speeches grew and became more cultivated, people began to doubt
that he was ever a slave. So he wrote an autobiography entitled Narrative of the
Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. In this book he described every detail of
his life as a slave. He then later wrote two more autobiographies entitled My
Bondage and My Freedom in 1855 and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass in 1882.
Since his books were so greatly detailed, he was in danger of being recaptured.
So he went away.

He toured Britain for two years. While there he spoke against slavery and his
speeches had as much impact on audiences as they did in the United States. He
returned to the United States after his British friends acquired his freedom.
Since blacks were considered inferior then, Douglass decided to start a
newspaper of his own that was run entirely by blacks. Garrison complained saying
that Douglass\' talents as a speaker would be wasted. Yet in spite of Garrison\'s
objections, Douglass moved to Rochester, N.Y., and started the weekly The North
Star which was later changed to Frederick Douglass\' Paper. He continued to
publish it from December 1847 to May 1863. In the paper he advocated the rights
of free blacks and slaves. Douglass also supported may causes such as women\'s
rights. Since Douglass was a Garrisonian he didn\'t believe in politics since it
supported the constitution which Garrisonians thought supported slavery. When he
moved to Rochester, he met "political abolitionists". They supported
the constitution saying that it forbid slavery. The called for electing
abolitionists into public office. Garrison felt that the north should separate
its self from the south. However, Douglass was convinced that this would leave
the slaves to their masters.

Garrison then accused him as an "apostate" and the two parted.
Douglass worked closely with the small Liberty Party which called for the total
elimination of slavery, from 1848 to the 1850\'s. However, on occasion he
supported the Free Soil and Republican parties, which only called to prevent to
the spread of slavery. Douglass soon came to decline Garrison\'s philosophy on
slavery. Douglass\' house in Rochester was a station in the "Underground
Railroad," a group of people