Fredrick Douglass was born February 20, 1818 with the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. He was born a slave, but he escaped and did many things like become an abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. (Wikipedia) He was raised by his grandmother Betsy Bailey where he was born. (Fredrick Douglass timeline) Fredrick Douglass once told a group of African American children: “What was possible for me is possible for you. Do not think because you are colored you cannot accomplish anything. Strive earnestly to add to your knowledge. So long as you remain in ignorance, so long will you fail to command the respect of your fellow men.” (America’s Library)
Fredrick Douglass was a great man, he is not mentioned much in most history books I have read, but he did great things. He was separated from his mother at birth, and didn’t see her much, but on some nights she would come to sleep with him to comfort him. (Wikipedia Fredrick Douglass timeline) He wrote several Autobiographies in his life time one of the more popular ones was Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass. (Wikipedia) In 1824, he moved to a plantation on Wye River. In 1825 he saw his mother for the last time, because in 1826, she died. (Fredrick Douglass timeline)
Fredrick Douglass described his escape from slavery in one of his autobiographies. He took a train ride dressed as a sailor. He had a red shirt, a tarpaulin hat, and a scarf tied loosely around his neck. The next part of his disguise was his knowledge of ships; he had to know everything about ships there was to know. He needed the “free paperwork” that every black person in the United Stated had. He got papers for the protection of all sailors; they showed that he was indeed a citizen of the US. This is how the conversation went when the conductor reached Douglass in the crowded train car.
“I suppose you have your free papers?”
“No sir; I never carry my free papers to sea with me.”
“But you have something to show that you are a freeman, haven’t you?”
“Yes, sir, I have a paper with the American eagle on it, and that will carry me around the world.” If this man had looked more closely at the paper, then he would have seen that the name didn’t match Fredrick Douglass’s name and he wouldn’t have escaped. (America’s Library)
After Fredrick Douglass escaped from slavery he decided to become an abolitionist leader. He published a newspaper in New York called The North Star. He named it this because when slaves escaped, they followed the North Star. Douglass also held lectures on freedom. Even though he was a well known abolitionist, he was still subject to the laws separating “colored” people from “white” people. When he had to sit in the back of buses and trains, his hosts would feel sorry for him. He would say: “Gentlemen, by ignoble actions I may degrade myself, but nothing and no man can degrade Frederick Douglass.” Douglass is known today for his speaking ability. He inspired the crowd that he spoke to, but he wasn’t always confident enough to speak to thousands of people. First he was asked to talk about his experiences as a slave, he was nervous at first, but then he was much surer about his ability to speak in front of a crowd. He kept in touch with many, many other abolitionists. (America’s library)
Most African Americans were willing to fight in the civil war, but Abraham Lincoln wasn’t sure if it was right to enlist black people in the military. He consulted Fredrick Douglass on the issue he helped convince Abraham Lincoln that it was okay to let them be in the military. On the 1st of January, 1863, Abraham Lincoln released an Emancipation Proclamation making all slaves free and allowing them to sign up for the military. By the end of that war, over one hundred thousand African American men had joined the military. Douglass recruited men in all regions of the US, signing many African Americans up for the Union Army. He signed two of his sons up for this army. The both joined the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. This army was made of colored people fighting an incredibly harsh battle. Douglass’s third youngest son, who wrote to his father while he was in the army. In one letter Charles said he heard that “the colored people were rushing into Philadelphia and that yourself and . . . others were doing all you could for them.” (American Library)
These are the sources I used because I didn’t feel like going through and linking all the things I needed to link.