Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey
BirthplaceTalbot County, Maryland, U.S.
Died
Occupation
Abolitionist, author, editor, diplomat

Douglass, Frederick

(dŭg`ləs), c.1817–1895, American abolitionist, b. near Easton, Md. The son of a black slave, Harriet Bailey, and an unknown white father, he took the name of Douglass (from Scott's hero in The Lady of the Lake) after his second, and successful, attempt to escape from slavery in 1838. At New Bedford, Mass., he found work as a day laborer. An extemporaneous speech before a meeting at Nantucket of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1841 was so effective that he was made one of its agents. Douglass, who had learned to read and write while in the service of a kind mistress in Baltimore, published his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. Fearing capture as a fugitive slave, he spent several years in England and Ireland and returned in 1847, after English friends had purchased his freedom. At Rochester, N.Y., he established the North Star and edited it for 17 years in the abolitionist cause. Unlike William L. GarrisonGarrison, William Lloyd,
1805–79, American abolitionist, b. Newburyport, Mass. He supplemented his limited schooling with newspaper work and in 1829 went to Baltimore to aid Benjamin Lundy in publishing the Genius of Universal Emancipation.
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, he favored the use of political methods and thus became a follower of James G. BirneyBirney, James Gillespie
, 1792–1857, American abolitionist, b. Danville, Ky. He practiced law at Danville from 1814 to 1818, before he moved to Alabama, where he served one term in the state legislature.
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. In the Civil War he helped organize two regiments of Massachusetts African Americans and urged other blacks to join the Union ranks. During Reconstruction he continued to urge civil rights for African Americans. He was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission (1871), marshal of the District of Columbia (1877–81), recorder of deeds for the same district (1881–86), and minister to Haiti (1889–91). Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1962) is a revised edition of his autobiography, which has also been published as My Bondage and My Freedom.

Bibliography

See also biographies by B. T. Washington (1907), P. Foner (1964), B. Quarles (1968), A. Bontemps (1971), and W. McFreely (1991); E. Fuller, A Star Pointed North (1946); P. S. Foner, ed., Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass (4 vol., 1950–55).

Douglass, Frederick

 

(pseudonym of Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey). Born February 1817, in Tuckahoe, Md.; died Feb. 20, 1895, in Anacostia Heights, a suburb of Washington, D. C. American abolitionist and revolutionary democrat. Leader of the Negro liberation movement, public figure, and writer.

Born a slave, Douglass fled to the North in 1838 and took an active part in the antislavery movement. At first Douglass shared the illusions of many abolitionist leaders on the need for moral exhortations to the slaveowners. Later, however, he resolutely supported revolutionary methods of struggle. Douglass’ political activity was subordinated to the idea of the unification of all antislavery forces and the creation of a mass abolitionist party. He took part in the organization of the National Liberty Party and in the Free Soil Party, and he was active in the Negro congress movement and in the work of the underground railroad.

Douglass was a brilliant publicist and orator. In 1847 he began to publish the newspaper North Star, which became one of the leading organs of the antislavery movement. In the 1850’s, under the influence of John Brown, Douglass came out in favor of armed struggle against slavery. He clearly conceived the revolutionary character of the Civil War in the USA (1861-65) and advanced the slogan of immediate emancipation of the slaves. Douglass participated in the formation of the first Negro regiments. During the Reconstruction period he took part in the Negro popular mass struggle for equality in US economic, political, and social life. He played a leading role in the Negro political organization the National League of Struggle for Equality, and he became chairman of the National Colored Labor Union in 1870. Douglass actively supported the democratization of US society and politics and defended the rights of women. His autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845; revised editions: My Bondage and My Freedom,1855; and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, 1881), exposes slavery.

SOURCES

The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, vols. 1-4. Edited by P. Foner. New York, 1950-55.

REFERENCES

Foster, W. Z. Negritianskii narod v istorii Ameriki. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from English.)
Graham, S. Frederik Duglas. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from English.)
Ivanov, R. F. “Frederik Duglas—rukovoditel’ revoliutsionnogo kryla abolitsionistskogo dvizheniia.” In the collection K stoletiiu grazhdanskoi voiny v SShA. Moscow, 1961.
Bekker, M. I. Progressivnaia negritianskaia literatura SShA. Leningrad, 1957.

I. P. DEMENT’EV

Douglass, Frederick (b. Frederick Augustus Washington Baily)

(1817–95) abolitionist, author, public official; born near Tuckahoe, Md. Born into slavery (his father was white, his mother was part American Indian), he was taught to read as a household servant but at age 16 was sent out to work as a field hand. In 1836 he was apprenticed to a shipyard in Baltimore, Md., but he escaped in 1838 and settled in New Bedford, Mass., where he assumed the name by which he would thereafter be known. After he made a speech before the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1841, he was hired as an agent and he lectured throughout the North; because his intelligence and speaking abilities led some to question whether he had been a slave, he published Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave in 1845. Then, fearing for his freedom, he fled to England where he lectured with such effect that the British contributed a generous sum of money that, added to money contributed by Americans, helped him buy his freedom when he returned to the U.S.A. in 1847. He went to Rochester, N.Y., where he cofounded (with Martin Delany) the abolitionist periodical North Star, which he edited for 16 years (in 1851 changing its name to Frederick Douglass's Paper). In 1859 he took refuge in Canada for a short time because he was falsely accused of aiding John Brown. He took a more gradualist approach to ending slavery but never wavered as the leading voice of African-Americans' call for freedom and equality. During the Civil War he urged President Lincoln to emancipate the slaves and he helped recruit African-American troops. After the Civil War, he also spoke out for other social reforms such as woman's suffrage. He also held a series of government posts—assistant secretary to the Santo Domingo Commission, marshal of the District of Columbia (1877–81), district recorder of deeds (1881–86), and ambassador to Haiti (1889–91). He issued a final revision of his autobiography as Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881).