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Profile of Frederick Douglass
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I'm Christian Bryant with About.com. Today we're detailing the life of African-American writer, orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, who later changed his last name to Douglass, was born into slavery in February of 1818 near Maryland's Eastern Shore, although the exact date has been contested over the years.
In 1826, Douglass was sent to live in Baltimore with Hugh Auld, half-brother to his current master Thomas Auld. While living with Hugh and his wife, Sophia, Douglass began learning to read and write. Sophia assisted the young Douglass, even though the law prohibited slaves from doing so. Douglass would later say...
"Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity."Trouble between the Auld brothers sent Douglass back home to work for Thomas Auld in 1833, where he was under the supervision of a slave-breaker named Edward Covey. Douglass was beaten relentlessly by Covey but later fought back against his tormentor, painting a dramatic account that would be used in one of his autobiographies.
Over the next several years, Douglass would travel to New York while posing as a sailor, marry his first wife, Anna Murray, and became a full-time lecturer with an abolitionist movement.He would pen and print his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, American Slave in 1845. He would go on to sell 30,000 copies in the first five years and embark upon a 21-month lecture tour that took him to Ireland and Great Britain.
Upon his return to the United States, Douglass published several newspapers, including the anti-slavery publication The North Star, a reference to the guiding light for runaway slaves. It went into print in 1851.Douglass was known as an eloquent orator, speaking as a champion of emancipation and women's rights. He also conferred with presidents Abraham Lincoln on fair treatment for black union soldiers and Andrew Johnson on voting rights for blacks.
After the Civil War and during the Reconstruction era in the United States, Douglass was appointed to several positions, one being a U.S. Marshal, and continued lecturing on behalf of disenfranchised blacks.Frederick Douglass died in February of 1895. The fingerprints of his influence are widespread with his name and likeness appearing on a memorial bridge in DC, postage stamps, literary honors, schools and even academic halls.
A collection of Douglass' works are located within The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress. It includes writings, speeches and images.
President Obama signed a bill in 2012 that sent a bust of the legendary abolitionist leader to the visitors center at Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol building, making him the third African-American of 180 busts. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sojourner Truth are the other two African-Americans located within the hall.
Thanks for watching. For more information, make sure to check out About.com.
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