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Frederick Douglass was a famous journalist, orator, and antislavery leader of the 19th century. He was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey to a slave woman in Talbot. His father was an unknown white man. Because slave laws dictated that a child's status followed that of his mothers, he too became a slave. He was separated from his mother in infancy and sent to live on a Maryland plantation with his grandmother. He was later sent to Baltimore to serve in the home of Hugh and Sophia Auld. Ms. Auld taught him to read until her husband forbade it. After that he learned to read with the help of white school boys.

After a failed attempt at escaping from slavery, Douglass was sent to work for Edward Covey, who beat him almost daily in attempts to break his spirit. He rebelled against Covey, eventually getting into a physical fight with him. After that Covey did not beat him anymore. He successfully escaped from slavery four years later and went to New York to work as a labourer. He married Anna Murray and changed his name to Douglass to prevent recapture.

His life as an orator began at an antislavery convention in Nantucket Massachusetts where he was asked to describe his experiences as a slave. Following the convention he was asked to become an agent for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. During the Civil War he was a consultant to Abraham Lincoln and helped raise two regiments of black soldiers. When the war was over, he fought for civil rights for former slaves and supported the growing women's rights movement. He ran for Vice-President of the United States in 1872 for the Equal Rights Party as the Victoria Chaflin Woodhull's running mate. Late in life he became the first black citizen to hold high rank in the U.S. Government when he was appointed U.S. Minister and consul general to Haiti.


1817 He was born in Talbot County, Maryland. (February 7)

c1825 He was sent to Baltimore to work for Hugh and Sophia Auld.

c1820 He bought his first book, THE COLUMBIAN ORATOR.

1833 His first attempt to escape failed when his plans were discovered.

c1834 He was sent to work for Edward Covey, a slave breaker.

1838 He fled to New York and succeeded in escaping from slavery. (September); He married Anna Murray.

1841 He spoke at an anti-slavery convention in Nantucket, Massachusetts and was hired as an agent for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.

1845 He wrote his autobiography, NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

1847 He bought his freedom with financial help from British friends.; He began publishing the NORTH STAR, a weekly anti-slavery newspaper.

1848 He spoke at the first women's right convention in Seneca Falls, New York.


1871 He served as assistant secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission.

1872 He ran for Vice President of the United States as running mate to Victoria Claflin Woodhull.

1877 He became U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia.

1881 He became the recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia.; He wrote THE LIFE AND TIMES OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

1882 His wife, Anna Murray, died.

1884 He married his secretary, Helen Pitts.

1889 He was appointed U.S. Minister and consul general to Haiti.

1895 He died in Washington, D.C. (February 20)