Frederick Douglass

Leading abolitionist and advocate for racial equality

Former slave turned abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was a leading figure during the drive to emancipate the slaves and establish equal civil rights for African Americans. Calling upon the First Principles, Douglass argued for the emancipation of slaves, protecting the unalienable rights of African Americans, and equality before the law.

Born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland (on what he believed to be Valentines Day, 1816), he escaped from slavery on September 3, 1838.  Douglass eventually bought his freedom with the proceeds of anti-slavery lectures he presented in Great Britain and Ireland.

Once he fled the South, Douglass became a committed abolitionist.  He leapt onto the world stage by publishing his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845).  By detailing his brutal life as a common slave, the work captured the public’s imagination and significantly advanced the cause of abolitionism. 

Douglass used his fame to tour and speak across the country and in Europe.  He began several newspapers, including the influential North Star.  His unrelenting attacks upon slavery clearly revealed the need to address the fundamental hypocrisy of slavery in free republic of America, and the need to respect the unalienable rights of African Americans as well as grant them political and social equality.

During the Civil War he consulted with President Abraham Lincoln; and during Reconstruction he advised President Johnson.  He also served in several federal and diplomatic posts during Reconstruction.

He died on February 20, 1895.

For more about the abolitionists and their importance to our liberties today, buy a copy of  America’s Survival Guide.

Picture:  Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. Photograph by George K. Warren (d. 1884).



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