No study of the Garrison school of reformers, Liberty party abolitionism, the technique of anti-slavery agitation or the rôle of the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction is complete without constant reference to the career of Frederick Douglass. The most prominent American Negro of the nineteenth century, he was identified with most of the reformist movements of his day.
In accordance with the best American tradition, his life history reads like a romance. His youth and early manhood were spent in slavery. His flight from bondage brought him to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where for three years he lived a hand-to-mouth existence. After the accidental discovery of a talent for platform speaking in 1841, he joined the Garrison abolitionists and quickly became the prize exhibit of the Massachusetts Anti- Slavery Society.
His career in the crowded years that followed touched on the major political and economic controversies then current. In 1847 he became editor of an anti-slavery weekly which he published for sixteen years -- a longevity unusual in abolitionist journalism. In 1848 he took a prominent part in the proceedings of the Seneca Falls Convention in New York which formally inaugurated the woman's rights movement in the United States. His other varied activities as a reformer included participation in the temperance agitation, the underground railroad and the colored convention movement.
In the early 'fifties, after moving to western New York, he abandoned sole dependence on moral suasion as a means . . .