Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (dŭg´ləs), c.1817–1895, American abolitionist, b. near Easton, Md. The son of a black slave, Harriet Bailey, and an unknown white father, he took the name of Douglass (from Scott's hero in The Lady of the Lake) after his second, and successful, attempt to escape from slavery in 1838. At New Bedford, Mass., he found work as a day laborer. An extemporaneous speech before a meeting at Nantucket of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1841 was so effective that he was made one of its agents. Douglass, who had learned to read and write while in the service of a kind mistress in Baltimore, published his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. Fearing capture as a fugitive slave, he spent several years in England and Ireland and returned in 1847, after English friends had purchased his freedom. At Rochester, N.Y., he established the North Star and edited it for 17 years in the abolitionist cause. Unlike William L. Garrison, he favored the use of political methods and thus became a follower of James G. Birney. In the Civil War he helped organize two regiments of Massachusetts African Americans and urged other blacks to join the Union ranks. During Reconstruction he continued to urge civil rights for African Americans. He was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission (1871), marshal of the District of Columbia (1877–81), recorder of deeds for the same district (1881–86), and minister to Haiti (1889–91). Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1962) is a revised edition of his autobiography, which has also been published as My Bondage and My Freedom.

See also biographies by B. T. Washington (1907), P. Foner (1964), B. Quarles (1968), A. Bontemps (1971), and W. McFreely (1991); E. Fuller, A Star Pointed North (1946); P. S. Foner, ed., Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass (4 vol., 1950–55).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Frederick Douglass: Selected full-text books and articles

Frederick Douglass: Freedom's Voice, 1818-1845 By Gregory P. Lampe Michigan State University Press, 1998
The Mind of Frederick Douglass By Waldo E. Martin Jr University of North Carolina Press, 1984
Frederick Douglass By William S. McFeely W. W. Norton, 1991
The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia By Julius E. Thompson; James L. Conyers Jr.; Nancy J. Dawson Greenwood, 2010
Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World By Fionnghuala Sweeney University of Liverpool Press, 2007
Frederick Douglass By Benjamin Quarles Associated Publishers, 1948
Intimate and Authentic Economies: The American Self-Made Man from Douglass to Chaplin By Tom Nissley Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. I "Free Labor and Intimate Capital"
Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery By David B. Chesebrough Greenwood Press, 1998
The Textual Reproductions of Frederick Douglass By Anderson, Douglas CLIO, Vol. 27, No. 1, Fall 1997
The Trouble with Douglass's Body By Fanuzzi, Robert ATQ (The American Transcendental Quarterly), Vol. 13, No. 1, March 1999
"He Made Us Laugh Some": Frederick Douglass's Humor By Ganter, Granville African American Review, Vol. 37, No. 4, Winter 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
"The Spirit of Hate" and Frederick Douglass By White, Richard H Civil War History, Vol. 46, No. 1, March 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
African-American Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook By Richard W. Leeman Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Frederick Douglass (1815-1895), Abolitionist, Reformer" begins on p. 82
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