Frederick Douglass, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey

Frederick Douglass (1817–1895—his tombstone says he was born in 1817, but some historians now think that date is 1818) was named Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey at his birth in Tuckahoe, Talbot County, Maryland. After escaping slavery in Baltimore, Maryland, he made his way via the Underground Railroad to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he changed his surname to Douglass. As an agent of the Antislavery Society, he traveled widely as a lecturer, ultimately traveling in Europe to avoid being recaptured as a slave. After moving to Rochester, New York, in 1847, he began publishing a newspaper, The North Star, and founded and edited a journal, New National Era. After his house in Rochester burned to the ground in 1872, he moved his family to Washington, D.C., where he later purchased Cedar Hill in Anacostia, which today is the Frederick Douglass National Historical Site, which is administered by the National Park Service. A respected and well-known abolitionist and great orator, he wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845), My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). He believed that literacy was the pathway to freedom, a philosophy inspired by his mother, Harriet Bailey, who as a slave had taught herself to read and write.

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