Frederick Douglass: Great Foe of Slavery

More of this Feature

• Part 2: His True Calling
Part 3: Great Successes

On This Site

Benjamin Banneker: An Important Black American
The Civil War links

Elsewhere on the Web

The Frederick Douglass Papers Project
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (complete text)

Part 1: Humble Beginnings

One of the most important Black Americans in the history of the country was Frederick Douglass.

From his beginnings as a child slave, Douglass would become a great public speaker, a leader of the abolitionist movement, and an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln.

He learned how to read and write at an early age. He also worked hard in the Baltimore shipyards and saw up close and personal how horrible slavery could be. He was beaten on several occasions, both by his masters and by other shipyard workers. He finally decided to escape and, dressed as a sailor, made it to the North.

In New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1838, Frederick married Anna Murray. The couple soon met up with a Black man named Nathan Johnson, who invited them to stay with him and his family. At that time, Johnson was reading Sir Walter Scott's book The Lady of the Lake. Eager to leave his old identity behind him, Frederick changed his last name to Douglass, after a character in the book.

Frederick Douglass found it difficult to get work in New York, despite being skilled at many forms of manual labor. He found his true calling in public speaking.

Next page > His True Calling > Page 1, 2, 3

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White