Last year, a 7-foot bronze statue of Frederick Douglass, a 19th-century abolitionist, was unveiled at the United States Capital. The event marked great honor to an icon whose political legacy is well known. However, his private life is lesser known.
Frederick Douglass was born in February 1818 to a slave woman who worked for a white master. He was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in a plantation in Talbot County, Maryland. Since his mother was a slave and Frederick became a slave, too.
Frederick Douglass was a prominent African-American leader, abolitionist, author, and orator of the 19th century. Born a slave, Frederick came up with a successful escape strategy when he was 20 years old.
Upon his escape from slavery, Frederick adopted the name of the hero of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. The limitations of being the son of a slave woman didn’t stop his big dreams. He went on to become a world-renowned anti-slavery activist.
His three great autobiographies are regarded classics of American autobiography and significant works of the slave narrative tradition. During his time, Douglass helped to bring several reforms which would improve the lives of African Americans.
As a reformer, he did a lot regarding abolitionist activities in the early 1840s. His work also involved the attacks on Jim Grow and lynching in the 1890s.
For 16 years, Frederick was the editor of an influential black newspaper. At that time, he gained international fame as an influential and inspiring writer and speaker. Through thousands of editorials and speeches, he levied a strong indictment against racism and slavery, embraced antislavery politics, gave powerful messages of hope to his people, and talked about his own brand of American ideals.
Today, we will provide interesting facts about Frederick Douglass that will help you learn more about him and understand what kind of person he was.
- During the Civil War, Frederick had a special consultation with President Abraham Lincoln and helped in influencing the Emancipation Proclamation. The death of President Lincoln, his wife, sent Frederick, the walking stick of her late husband.
- As a member of the Equal Rights, Frederick Douglass was nominated for Vice President of the United States Party at the Equal Rights Party convention in 1872.
- Douglass managed to escape from slavery; thanks to fake identification papers and a sailor’s uniform. Initially, he had made two unsuccessful attempts to escape. In 1837, he fell in love with a free African-American lady called Anna Murray. This became a breakthrough in his escape mission. Anna agreed to facilitate Frederick’s escape. She offered him cash and arranged for sailor’s uniform he would wear while escaping. She also took advantage of the position of a free black seaman to get him fake identification papers. Luckily, everything went according to their plan, and Douglass was able to escape successfully. He arrived in New York, and he was hosted by David Ruggles, a prominent African-American abolitionist.
- Frederick’s British Supporters helped him to gain his legal freedom. His first autobiography was successful. Many people within and outside the country liked it. The publicity was too much for him at that point. Frederick and his friends feared that his ex-owner might try to reclaim. In August 1845, he left the country for Europe. He remained in Britain and Ireland for two years. Frederick was very pleased with the treatment he got during his stay since he wasn’t racially discriminated. He gave many lectures, and the attendance was high. During this period, he won several supporters. That is why his supporters in England raised money and finally contacted Hugh Auld, his former master to buy his freedom. They finalized the paperwork, and In December 1846, Frederick got his legal freedom. He went back to the United States the following year.
- Douglass was totally against abolitionists like John Brown and William Garrison. He was an active member of the American Anti-Slavery Society founded by William Garrison. Although William considered the Constitution as a pro-slavery tool and eventually burning its copies, Douglass rejected his idea. In fact, he believed it was an anti-slavery document that will liberate African-Americans. He wanted to maximize it in the fight against slavery. However, it created a significant division in the Abolitionism movement in America.