Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) African American, anti-slavery campaigner.
Frederick Douglass was a former slave who escaped and became a powerful anti-slavery orator.
Douglass wrote three autobiographies describing his experiences as a slave and then gaining his freedom.
Douglass was the most influential African-American leader of the Nineteenth Century, and exemplified great moral courage in opposing slavery and injustice.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland.
His mother, Harrier Bailey was a slave; his father was probably his mother’s slave owner.
He saw little of his mother when growing up, and she died when he was 10.
The young Douglass was brought up by his grandmother until the age of seven, when he was sent to Baltimore to serve Hugh Auld.
Although still a slave, in Baltimore, the young Douglas was taught to read by the wife of his Master – Sophia Auld.
Douglas had fond memories of Sophia and felt he was treated like a human being; these early steps in learning to read would prove critical for awakening in Douglass a greater aspiration for freedom.
Douglass said that going to Baltimore was crucial in enabling him to eventually escape slavery..’However, when Hugh Auld discovered his wife had been teaching Douglass to read, he expressed his strong displeasure.
Like many slave owners, he feared that if slaves became educated they would have an even greater desire for freedom.
This made it more difficult for Douglas to be educated, but he continued to try, in secret, to read newspapers and books which gave him a broader education.
He wrote: Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read.