A. Frederick Douglass
Originally named Frederick Bailey by his mother, Harriet Bailey, Frederick Douglass was born on the eastern shore of Maryland. A son of a slave; he never knew who his father is, nor his birthday. His father is her mother’s master. He was separated from her at a young age and was raised by other slaves on the plantation. When he turned 8, he was sent to live in Baltimore to work for a family. His new mistress taught him to read and write. As a kid, he demonstrated extensive intelligence; as a teenager, he was hired to work in the shipyards of Baltimore as a caulker, a skilled position. The Auld family, his legal owners, paid him his salary.
Frederick was a critical thinker. He knew that education is a step closer to being free. When his mistress was forbidden by her husband to continue educating him, because it was unlawful to teach the slaves to read, he bore this burden alone. He made the neighborhood boys his teachers, giving them food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing. By the time he was 12, he purchased a copy of The Columbian Orator, a renowned schoolbook of the time. This helped him understand and appreciate the power of spoken and written words as the two most effective means to bring a permanent, positive change.
He was very determined to escape to freedom. After one failed attempt, he was able to secure identification papers in 1838 indicating he was a seaman. Dressed as a sailor, he boarded a train northward and successfully escaped to New York City at the age of 21. He noted that the hardest thing for him to do was act like a free person.
He excelled in his new career, public speaker for the bonds people. In fact, he was too impressive rumors circulated that he’s a fraud and he had never actually been a slave. To retaliate against these attacks, he began writing accounts of his life. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, published in 1845, was a sensation. As he became prominent, he knew his owners...