Wednesday, June 2, 2010
2010-6-2 Frederick Douglas Frederick Douglas (1818?-1895) became the leading voice of American blacks in the 1800's. Douglas was born a slave but became a noted reformer, author, and orator. He spent his life trying to abolish slavery and fighting for black rights. Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland, near Easton. He was sent to Baltimore to work for a relative of his master at age 8. The wife of his new master helped him to educate himself. He later worked as a caulker in a shipyard making ships watertight. He escaped from his master in 1838 and went to New Bedford, Massachusetts. In order to avoid capture, he changed his name to Frederick Douglas. He found work as a caulker, but the other men refused to work with him because he was black. He did other jobs such as collecting rubbish and digging cellars. At a meeting of the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1841, Douglas had the opportunity to share what freedom meant to him. His speech impressed the society, and he was hired to lecture about his experiences as a slave. He protested in the early 1840's about segregated seating on trains by sitting in cars reserved for whites and had to be dragged from the white cars. He also protested against religious discrimination by walking out of a church that kept blacks from participating until whites finished. Douglas published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas in 1845. He went to England because he feared that his book would reveal that he was a runaway slave. He continued to speak against slavery and found friends who raised money to buy his freedom. Douglas returned to America in 1847 and founded the North Star, an antislavery newspaper, in Rochester, New York. He charged that white immigrants were hired before black Americans. Douglas led a successful attack against segregated schools in Rochester. His home was part of the underground railroad, a widespread system which helped runaway slaves reach freedom. Douglas helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army during the Civil War. He discussed the slavery issue several times with President Abraham Lincoln. He recorded deeds in the District of Columbia, 1881-1886, and served as United States minister to Haiti, 1889-1891. He expanded his autobiography twice - My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and Life and Times of Frederick Douglas (1881). Facts for this post came from an article by Otey M. Scruggs in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p 314.