The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

Overview

Raised as a plantation slave, Douglass went on to become a writer, orator, and major participant in the struggle for African-American freedom and equality. In this engrossing narrative he recounts early years of abuse; his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom, abolitionist campaigns, and his crusade for full civil rights for former slaves.

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The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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Overview

Raised as a plantation slave, Douglass went on to become a writer, orator, and major participant in the struggle for African-American freedom and equality. In this engrossing narrative he recounts early years of abuse; his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom, abolitionist campaigns, and his crusade for full civil rights for former slaves.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486431703
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 12/19/2003
  • Series: African American Series
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 788,034
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining renown for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. He became a major speaker for the cause of abolition. In addition to his oratory, Douglass wrote several autobiographies, eloquently describing his life as a slave, and his struggles to be free. His classic autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, is one of the best known accounts of American slavery. After the Civil War, Douglass remained very active in America's struggle to reach its potential as a "land of the free". Douglass actively supported women's suffrage. Following the war, he worked on behalf of equal rights for freedmen, and held multiple public offices. Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was fond of saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

Biography

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born a slave in Tuckahoe, Maryland, in February 1818. He became a leading abolitionist and women's rights advocate and one of the most influential public speakers and writers of the nineteenth century.

Frederick's mother, Harriet Bailey, was a slave; his father was rumored to be Aaron Anthony, manager for the large Lloyd plantation in St. Michaels, Maryland, and his mother's master. Frederick lived away from the plantation with his grandparents, Isaac and Betsey Bailey, until he was six years old, when he was sent to work for Anthony.

When Frederick was eight, he was sent to Baltimore as a houseboy for Hugh Auld, a shipbuilder related to the Anthony family through marriage. Auld's wife, Sophia, began teaching Frederick to read, but Auld, who believed that a literate slave was a dangerous slave, stopped the lessons. From that point on, Frederick viewed education and knowledge as a path to freedom. He continued teaching himself to read; in 1831 he bought a copy of The Columbian Orator, an anthology of great speeches, which he studied closely.

In 1833 Frederick was sent from Auld's relatively peaceful home back to St. Michaels to work in the fields. He was soon hired out to Edward Covey, a notorious "slave-breaker" who beat him brutally in an effort to crush his will. However, on an August afternoon in 1934, Frederick stood up to Covey and beat him in a fight. This was a turning point, Douglass has said, in his life as a slave; the experience reawakened his desire and drive for liberty.

In 1838 Frederick Bailey escaped from slavery by using the papers of a free seaman. He traveled north to New York City, where Anna Murray soon joined him. Later that year, Frederick and Anna married and moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Though settled in the North, Frederick was a fugitive, technically still Auld's property. To protect himself, he became Frederick Douglass, a name inspired by a character in Sir Walter Scott's poem Lady of the Lake.

Douglass began speaking against slavery at abolitionist meetings and soon gained a reputation as a brilliant orator. In 1841 he began working full-time as an abolitionist lecturer, touring with one of the leading activists of the day, William Lloyd Garrison.

Douglass published his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in 1845. The book became an immediate sensation and was widely read both in America and abroad. Its publication, however, jeopardized his freedom by exposing his true identity. To avoid capture as a fugitive slave, Douglass spent the next several years touring and speaking in England and Ireland. In 1846, two friends purchased his freedom. Douglass returned to America, an internationally renowned abolitionist and orator.

Douglass addressed the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. This began his long association with the women's rights movement, including friendships with such well-known suffragists as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

During the mid-1840s Douglass began to break ideologically from William Lloyd Garrison. Whereas Garrison's abolitionist sentiments were based in moral exhortation, Douglass was coming to believe that change would occur through political means. He became increasingly involved in antislavery politics with the Liberty and Free-Soil Parties. In 1847 Douglass established and edited the politically oriented, antislavery newspaper the North Star.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln called upon Douglass to advise him on emancipation issues. In addition, Douglass worked hard to secure the rights of blacks to enlist; when the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers was established as the first black regiment, he traveled throughout the North recruiting volunteers. Mo< Douglass's governmental involvement extended far beyond Lincoln's tenure. He was consulted by the next five presidents and served as secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission (1871), marshal of the District of Columbia (1877-1881), recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia (1881-1886), and minister to Haiti (1889-1891). A year before his death Douglass delivered an important speech, "The Lessons of the Hour," a denunciation of lynchings in the United States.

On February 20, 1896, Frederick Douglass died of a heart attack. His death triggered an outpouring of grief and mourning; black schools in Washington, D.C. closed for a day, and thousands of children were taken to the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church to view his open casket. In his third autobiography, Douglass succinctly and aptly summarized his life; writing that he had "lived several lives in one: first, the life of slavery; secondly, the life of a fugitive from slavery; thirdly, the life of comparative freedom; fourthly, the life of conflict and battle; and fifthly, the life of victory, if not complete, at least assured."

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Good To Know

Douglass's mother Harriet referred to Frederick as her "little Valentine," so he unofficially adopted February 14th as his birthday.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Tuckahoe, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      1818
    1. Date of Death:
      February 20, 1895
    2. Place of Death:
      Washington, D.C.

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER III. TROUBLES OF CHILDHOOD. Col. Lloyd's plantation—Aunt Katy—Her cruelty and ill-nature—Capt. Anthony's partiality to Aunt Katy—Allowance of food—Hunger—Unexpected rescue by his mother—The reproof of Aunt Katy—Sleep—A slave - mother's love—His inheritance—His mother's acquirements—Her death. ONCE established on the home plantation of Col. Lloyd—I was with the children there, left to the tender mercies of Aunt Katy, a slave woman who was to my master, what he was to Col. Lloyd. Disposing of us in classes or sizes, he left to Aunt Katy all the minor details concerning our management. She was a woman who never allowed herself to act greatly within the limits of delegated power, no matter how broad that authority might be. Ambitious of old master's favour, ill-tempered and cruel by nature, she found in her present position an ample field for the exercise of her ill-omened qualities. She had a strong hold upon old master, for she was a first-rate cook, and very industrious. She was therefore greatly favoured by him—and as one mark of his favour she was the only mother who was permitted to retain her children around her, and even to these, her own children, she was often fiendish in her brutality. Cruel, however, as she sometimes was to her own children, she was not destitute of maternal feeling, and in her instinct to satisfy their demands for food, she was often guilty of starving me and the other children. Want of food was my chief trouble during my first summer here. Captain Anthony, instead of allowing a given quantity of food to each slave, committed the allowance for all to Aunt Katy, to be divided byher, after cooking, amongst us. The allowance consisted of coarse corn meal, not very abundant, and which by passing through Aunt Katy's hands, became more slender s...
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Table of Contents

Introduction [to the 1892 Edition] 3
Part 1
1 Author's Birth 11
2 Removal from Grandmother's 13
3 Troubles of Childhood 16
4 A General Survey of the Slave Plantation 18
5 A Slaveholder's Character 25
6 A Child's Reasoning 28
7 Luxuries at the Great House 34
8 Characteristics of Overseers 39
9 Change of Location 43
10 Learning to Read 47
11 Growing in Knowledge 50
12 Religious Nature Awakened 56
13 The Vicissitudes of Slave Life 60
14 Experience in St. Michaels 66
15 Covey, the Negro Breaker 75
16 Another Pressure of the Tyrant's Vise 84
17 The Last Flogging 90
18 New Relations and Duties 98
19 The Runaway Plot 105
20 Apprenticeship Life 122
21 Escape from Slavery 130
Part 2
1 Escape from Slavery 137
2 Life as a Freeman 141
3 Introduced to the Abolitionists 151
4 Recollections of Old Friends 154
5 One Hundred Conventions 159
6 Impressions Abroad 164
7 Triumphs and Trials 184
8 John Brown and Mrs. Stowe 193
9 Increasing Demands of the Slave Power 209
10 The Beginning of the End 225
11 Secession and War 240
12 Hope for the Nation 253
13 Vast Changes 270
14 Living and Learning 290
15 Weighed in the Balance 296
16 "Time Makes All Things Even" 320
17 Incidents and Events 330
18 "Honor to Whom Honor" 340
19 Retrospection 346
Appendix 351
Part 3
1 Later Life 375
2 A Grand Occasion 379
3 Doubts as to Garfield's Course 383
4 Recorder of Deeds 386
5 President Cleveland's Administration 390
6 The Supreme Court Decision 395
7 Defeat of James G. Blaine 405
8 European Tour 407
9 Continuation of European Tour 411
10 The Campaign of 1888 434
11 Administration of President Harrison 437
12 Minister to Haiti 439
13 Continued Negotiations for the Mole St. Nicolas 446
Annotated Bibliography 455
Index 458
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