Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Frederick Douglass: America's Great Abolitionist

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Frederick Douglass: America's Great Abolitionist

Article excerpt

Google's honoring of Frederick Douglass through a doodle on its search page Monday highlights one of America's most prominent abolitionists.

Douglass' life story and his oral and literary work still stand as defining items in the saga of slavery and racial injustice in the United States. Remembering his career is also a relevant way to observe the start of African American History Month.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery in Maryland early in the 19th century. After beginning his life on a plantation, Douglass was sent to Baltimore, where he was first exposed to the alphabet and literacy. Allowing slaves to learn to read and write was not accepted at the time, but Douglass was briefly helped by his master's wife and continued to secretly learn even after her teaching was discovered. His ability to read led him to various newspapers and publications, where he was exposed to the ideals of freedom.

Douglass was eventually sent back to a plantation, where he began to teach other slaves - and he did so for months, until several plantation owners stopped him. Years later, Douglass escaped from slavery and made his way to freedom in New York City in 1838. There, he married a free black woman, Anna Murray, whom he had fallen in love with in Baltimore. The two eventually settled in southern Massachusetts, where they took on the name Douglass.

Douglass went on to work as a preacher and anti-slavery activist, becoming friends with fellow abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Douglass' best known work, his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, was published in 1845. Not only did the book take a stark account of the life of a slave in America, but it also challenged the belief that slaves could not write or be educated. That book went on to become an influential bestseller, shifting much public opinion on the topic of slavery and the abilities of blacks. …

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