Category: History

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Frederick Douglas Biography

Frederick Douglas (Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) was born on February 1818, in Tuckahoe, Maryland. He writes about his date of birth in his book The narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it (2012, p. 15). Frederick kept in mind that his mother called him her valentine. He might have been born on February 14. His mother was an Afro-American slave. His father was a white man. He had never seen his father. Frederick seldom saw his mother. His grandparents and aunt raised him. Unfortunately, when he was about seven years old, his mother died. Frederick Douglas had two masters. The first one was Captain Anthony. He had a couple of farms and two dozens slaves. He was a cruel man. He liked to beat slaves, especially Fredericks's aunt. The second master was Colonel Lloyd. Lloyd has two sons, a daughter, and a son-in-law, who all lived in one house. Colonel Lloyd had about four hundred slaves and treated them very cruelly. Over twenty overseas looked for the Lloyds farms. After the death of Anthony, Frederick had to live on Colonel Lloyds Great House farm.

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Sooner, Frederick had to live in Baltimore in the family of the son-in-law's brother, Hugh Auld. His new mistress, Sophia, taught him to read and write. It was forbidden to teach slaves, but Sophia liked it. Hugh became dissatisfied when saw that his wife had taught Frederick to read. He explained that slaves would want to be free if they learn to read and write. As Williamson (2002) noted, Douglass said, Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave. I instinctively assented to the proposition; and from that moment, I understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom (p. 41). At that time, Douglass was almost twelve. Douglass learned to read, and he read newspapers and various books. The reading made him think of the states of affairs. Finally, Douglass condemned slavery as the most unnecessary institution in the world. Afterward, Douglass made contributions in his favorite book The Columbian Orator, which helped him to change thoughts about life.

Frederick Douglass began teaching other slaves to read. Slaves were happy to learn and over 40 people had been attending in secret his lessons for almost half a year. At that time, Frederick was fifteen. Of course, he was a leader owing to the education obtained by him. In 1833, Frederick Douglass returned to Thomas Auld. Thomas ordered Frederick to work for a poor farmer, who was called slave-breaker for his cruel treatment of slaves. Douglass suffered from the beating and cruelty of his new master. Once, Frederick put an end to the inhumane cruelty by rebelling against his master and won. It was an unbelievable thing to lift a hand against the master. After that, his master Covey did not dare to beat Frederick.

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Douglass understood that he could not be a slave anymore. He won his offender and did not want to bear roughness and blows from stupid people. He tried to go from his masters twice but unsuccessfully. In 1837, Frederick Douglass met a future wife, Anna Murray, who helped him to escape the next fall. Being in New York, Douglass wrote that a new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath, and the quick round of blood, I lived more in one day than in a year of my life (1882, p.170).

Frederick Douglass began attending various meetings, organizations. He took part in abolitionist movements and the Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass became an anti-slavery lecturer. He traveled around the country, and once an angry man beat him and broke his hand in Indiana. In 1845, he wrote his first autobiographical book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which became a bestseller. Douglass had to sail to Ireland to escape enslavement. He lived for two years there, and his new friends collected sufficient sums to make him free. Douglas was a very religious moral man. His lectures on slavery attained great success. Finally, Douglass collected money and returned to the United States to buy his freedom from Auld in 1847.

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Douglass established several newspapers in the United States and supported women's movements on their rights. He wanted the desegregation of the educational system. Douglass realized the importance of education in the struggle for the liquidation of slavery in the United States. He stated that children should attend schools irrespective of their color. At the same time, Douglass did not support an armed rebellion against slave-owners of the South.

Since the Civil War was aimed at eliminating slavery, Douglass wanted African Americans to take part in fighting for their liberation. He considered that African Americans should have equal rights with the rest population of the United States. He wanted President Lincoln to recognize African Americans as a part of the American nation. Unfortunately, President Lincoln was not ready to support Douglass in his fight for the equal rights of African Americans. At that time, Congress passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to eliminate slavery in the United States in 1865. Douglass both sons served in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, and Frederick was very happy to see how brave his sons were. Douglass knew that he did not live in vain. He made his famous speech in memory of Lincoln on April 14, 1876. Douglass paid tribute to the honest President Lincoln, who did his best to cease the racial expansionism. People stood giving ovations to Douglass. Thus, Frederick Douglass turned into a political leader from a former slave. Douglass knew that he achieved success due to education. He believed that education made people free. Moreover, Douglass took a great pain educating American people in colleges, universities, and other educational establishments for the sake of the future of American society. Douglass remained a strong supporter of the human rights movement in the United States till his death, on February 20, 1895.

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Frederick Douglass is one of the most important politics in the United States of America. It is difficult to imagine American history without such a bright personality as Frederick Douglass. He managed to become a famous person because he wanted to learn to read and write. Of course, Frederick was an industrious man. He understood that without education, he could not be successful. According to Douglass, slaves were slaves because they did not study in schools. Hence, they did not have inner freedom and were unable to improve their social position. Douglass considered that forbidding obtaining education was unjust regarding African Americans creating material benefits for white people. According to Shmoop (2010), Douglass considered that a person could create himself/herself with the help of education. Actually, slaves were the people without their future. Only education can create inner freedom in every person. Douglass's life is a bright example of how a common person can achieve success if he/she establishes a goal. The whole life consists of the goals and great labor to achieve every goal. A person is weak without education. In this case, nobody can achieve success because he/she either does not know how to do it, or what to do. Absence of the inner freedom turns a person into a passive onlooker of the own life with problems and failures. In this case, a person possesses inner laziness and the inability to be happy and make happy friends and relatives.

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