The most Important Black Leader of 19th Century

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass suffered approximately twenty years in the bondage of slavery. Douglass never received formal education but was determined to teach himself to read and write. He first got ideas about freedom from The Columbian Orator. He overcame adversity and was extremely brave. Frederick Douglass transitioned from being a slave to being an advocate for abolition and other civil rights movements such as the womenr's rights movement.
Frederick Douglass never knew his father and was taken away from his mother shortly after birth. Frederick was most likely the result of his master or overseer raping his mother. Even his birth was caused by an act of cruelty.

Douglass witnessed many injustices throughout his life that disturbed him and made him want to seek change. As a child he befriended poor white children and traded bread in an attempt to gain knowledge. He shined shoes so that he could earn money to buy The Columbian Orator. Douglass had many masters, some were fair and some were cruel but slavery was never a fortunate situation to be in. Frederick was almost like someone from the outside looking in on the horror of slavery, I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs (Douglass, Frederick 50). Douglass never knew what the salve songs really meant and represented. Although he was a slave, Douglass was always different. Douglass refused to accept his unfortunate situation and took action to change his life.

Douglass got many ideas about abolition from The Columbian Orator and always knew that he was not meant to remain a slave for his entire life. The Columbian Orator contained themes of nationalism, religion, and individual liberty. These ideas led him to believe that the book had an anti-slavery tone. A couple of Irish sailors once encouraged Douglass to run away and that further filled his head with ideas of freedom. He loses his spirit when he is sent to work for Edward Covey and considers suicide. A fight with Covey rekindles his fighting spirit. Secretly, he starts teaching the other slaves to read and write. A plan was formed with other slaves to escape but they were caught before action was ever taken to run away. Douglass is sent to Baltimore to live with Hugh Auld. He becomes a apprentice for ship building and ship caulking. During that time he is attacked by four white men. After he recovers, Douglass works at Auldr's shipyard. He is able to make money but is forced to give his wages to Auld. Douglass seeks work on his own and takes on the responsibilities of a free man. He believed that his story was his most important possession.

On September 3, 1838, Frederick Douglass escaped Slavery in Baltimore Maryland. The details of his escape were not revealed at the time because he did not want slave owners to know how to prevent their slaves from escaping as well. It was known that he ran away to New York City. The city is overwhelming to Douglass. He is taken in by a free black. On September 15 he married Anna Murray. It is at this time that he chooses to change his name from Bailey to Douglass. They then moved to New Bedford Massachusetts. He spoke about his experiences during his time as a slave and became an orator for abolition. During his tours where he visited England, Ireland, and Scotland abolitionists offered to pay for his freedom. He returned to America as a free man. He wrote the book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to prove his enslavement and record his experiences. He also supported womenr's rights and helped with the underground railroad. Douglass was an abolitionist, reformer, editor, orator, and author. For Douglass, literacy was power. He wanted to prove that blacks were not naturally inferior but that they were made inferior by white people.

Frederick Douglass was the most important black leader of the nineteenth century. He displayed amazing bravery and independence. He refused to accept his condition and looked for ways to lessen the burden of slavery and better himself. Douglass had ideas of freedom from an early age and they fuled him to keep fighting. Once he was free, he spent his time trying to help those who were still being oppressed. Frederick Douglass was a voice for the voiceless and a glimmer of hope from people still fighting for their rights.

Works Cited

  1. Douglass, Frederick, and Ira Dworkin. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American
    Slave. Penguin Classics, 2014.
  2. Frederick Douglass. National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2 Feb. 2018,
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The Most Important Black Leader Of 19th Century. (2019, Jun 10). Retrieved June 23, 2024 , from

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