Frederick Douglass Fact 1: Frederick Douglass was an African-American man who was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland in the United States of America.
Frederick Douglass Fact 2: His real name was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. His mother, Harriet Bailey, gave him this name.
Frederick Douglass Fact 3: The date of birth of Frederick Douglass remains unknown as there are no official records containing this information. The year of his birth is thought to have been sometime around 1818. This famous African-American slave decided to celebrate his birthday on February 14th.
Frederick Douglass Fact 4: Frederick Douglass was separated from his mother as a small child. This was common practice during these hard times of slavery in Maryland. His only memories of his mother were at night time when she would settle him down to sleep.
Frederick Douglass Fact 5: Following his separation from his mother, Frederick Douglass was raised for a short period of time by his grandmother Betty Bailey, but at seven years of age, he was separated from her too and moved to Wye House Plantation where many slaves were sent to work.
Frederick Douglass Fact 6: Following the death of the overseer at the Wye House Plantation, Frederick Douglass was given to a lady called Lucretia Auld, she was the wife of Thomas Auld, and she sent him to work for Hugh Auld who was the brother of Thomas Auld.
Frederick Douglass Fact 7: His master was married to a nice, kind lady called Sophia. She began educating Frederick Douglass by teaching him the alphabet. It was against the law to educate a slave during this time in Maryland. Hugh Auld wasn't happy when he found out about his wife's teachings. He said that a slave would become discontent with their position if they learned how to read.
Frederick Douglass Fact 8: Frederick Douglass continued to educate himself in secret. He learned how to read from white children and he read as many articles as he could get his hands on - newspapers, books, leaflets, political materials etc.
Frederick Douglass Fact 9: As Frederick Douglass's ability to read and write developed and he once quoted that 'knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom'. In particular, he found hope and clarity in a book called 'The Columbian Orator' which contains views, speeches, messages and dialogues.
Frederick Douglass Fact 10: Frederick Douglass was sent to work at another plantation for William Freeland. Many slaves worked at this plantation and Frederick began sharing his knowledge with them. During Sunday school, he taught other slaves how to read the bible. William Freeland turned a blind eye to what was going on but word quickly spread and other plantation owners became increasingly concerned as they were against slaves receiving an education. One day, a group of men, armed with clubs and stones, burst into a Sunday school lesson to put a permanent stop to their education.
Frederick Douglass Fact 11: Frederick Douglass made several unsuccessful attempts to escape from slavery. He fell in love with a black woman who was free from slavery. Her name was Anna Murray and her free status gave Frederick hope that one day, he too could be free.
Frederick Douglass Fact 12: Anna Murray helped Frederick Douglass to escape to freedom. She gave him money to cover his travel expenses and a sailor's uniform to disguise himself. A free black seaman gave him identification documents to aid his escape. Frederick Douglass managed to successfully escape in less than 24 hours. He traveled by railroad train, steam-ferry and steamboat until he reached the free state of Pennsylvania where he headed for a safe house of David Ruggles in New York City. David Ruggles was an African-American abolitionist.
Frederick Douglass Fact 13: The following quote was made by Frederick Douglass reflecting upon his newly found freedom, 'I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity. There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. 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 slave life. It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe. In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York, I said: 'I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry lions.' Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil'.
Frederick Douglass Fact 14: Anna Murray joined Frederick Douglass in New York City and the couple married on September 15th, 1838, 11 days following his successful escape from Maryland. They used the surname Johnson for a while in order to avoid unwanted attention. They were married until Anna's death in 1882 and had five children together.
Frederick Douglass Fact 15: Following his freedom from slavery, Frederick Douglass became an abolitionist, preacher and writer. He published some very successful books including My Bondage and My Freedom, and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. One of his most successful publications was his first autobiography which was called Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
Frederick Douglass Fact 16: Frederick Douglass traveled to Ireland on August 16th, 1845 on the Cambria for Liverpool. He wanted to avoid publicity in America in fear of being found by his master Hugh Auld. This was during the time when the Irish Potato Famine was starting.Frederick Douglass Fact 17: The following quote by Frederick Douglass summarizes his sense of freedom and worth when he arrived to his new life in Ireland, 'Eleven days and a half gone and I have crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a democratic government, I am under a monarchical government. Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle [Ireland]. I breathe, and lo! the chattel [slave] becomes a man. I gaze around in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim me as his slave, or offer me an insult. I employ a cab—I am seated beside white people—I reach the hotel—I enter the same door—I am shown into the same parlour—I dine at the same table—and no one is offended... I find myself regarded and treated at every turn with the kindness and deference paid to white people. When I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip'.
Frederick Douglass Fact 18: Despite experiencing complete freedom whilst traveling around Ireland and Britain, giving lectures in churches and chapels, and meeting with inspiration people such as Daniel O'Connell and Thomas Clarkson, Frederick Douglass decided to return to the United States of America. His wife, Anna Murray, remained in Massachusetts and around 3 millions American slaves still required his help.
Frederick Douglass Fact 19: Upon his return to the United States of America, Frederick Douglass published the first abolitionist newspaper called The North Star. Much of the funding of the Newspaper came from supporters in England. He also attended the first ever women's rights convention in New York and spoke powerful words in support of women being given the right to vote.
Frederick Douglass Fact 20: Frederick Douglass was an inspirational African-American man who encountered great suffering during his years of slavery. He passed away on February 20th, 1895 following a heart attack or stroke.
Short Facts about Frederick Douglass for Kids
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