Frederick Douglass: A Life in Documents

Frederick Douglass: A Life in Documents


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Frederick Douglass was born enslaved in February 1818, but from this most humble of beginnings, he rose to become a world-famous orator, newspaper editor, and champion of the rights of women and African Americans. He not only survived slavery to live in freedom but also became an outspoken critic of the institution and an active participant in the U.S. political system. Douglass advised presidents of the United States and formally represented his country in the diplomatic corps. He was the most prominent African American activist of the nineteenth century, and he left a treasure trove of documentary evidence detailing his life in slavery and achievements in freedom. This volume gathers and interprets valuable selections from a variety of Douglass’s writings, including speeches, editorials, correspondence, and autobiographies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813934358
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Publication date: 07/29/2013
Series: A Nation Divided: Studies in the Civil War Era
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 - 17 Years

About the Author

L. Diane Barnes, Associate Editor of the Frederick Douglass Papers and Professor of History at Youngstown State University, is the author of Frederick Douglass: Reformer and Statesman.


Tuckahoe, Maryland

Date of Birth:


Date of Death:

February 20, 1895

Place of Death:

Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Acknowledgments xii

Chronology xiii

Introduction xvii

Part 1 The World of Slavery (1818-1838)

Earliest Memory of Slavery: From My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) 3

Mr. Gore Kills Demby: From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) 7

Douglass Goes to Baltimore: From My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) 11

A Year with a Notorious Slave Breaker: From Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892) 18

First Escape Attempt: From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) 25

Escape! From Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892) 33

Truthful Narrative: Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison, January 27, 1846 38

Part 2 Reform and Civil Rights (1839-1858)

American Prejudice and Southern Religion: From "Proceedings of the Plymouth Co. A. S. Society," December 10, 1841 47

Segregation Aboard the Cambria: Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison, April 21, 1847 51

Wielding the Editor's Pen: "Our Paper and Its Prospects" and "To Our Oppressed Countrymen," North Star, December 3, 1847 55

The Concerns of African Americans: "An Address to the Colored People of the United States," North Star, September 22, 1848 60

To My Former Master: "To Captain Thomas Auld, Formerly My Master," North Star, September 7, 1849 67

Conductor on the Underground Railroad: Douglass to Samuel D. Porter, September 1851 71

Women and the Antislavery Movement: Douglass to Susan Farley Porter, March 27, 1856 73

John Brown and Bleeding Kansas: "John Brown of Ossawattomie, Kansas," Frederick Douglass' Paper, June 27, 1856 75

Part 3 The Nation at War (1859-1865)

The Harpers Ferry Insurrection: Douglass to the editor, Rochester Democrat, October 31, 1859 79

The Aftermath of Harpers Ferry: "Capt. Brown Not Insane," Douglass' Monthly, November 1859 83

The Election of 1860: "The Late Election," Douglass' Monthly, December 1860 86

Fighting the Rebels with One Hand: From "Speech of Frederick Douglass on the War," Douglass' Monthly, February 1862 91

Recruiter of Black Troops for the Union Army: Douglass to the editor, Anglo African, July 27, 1863 100

Equal Pay and Equal Respect for Black Troops: Douglass to George Luther Stearns, Douglass' Monthly, August 1863 104

Douglass Meets Lincoln: From Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892) 107

The Nation Mourns: "Our Martyred President," Rochester Democrat, April 17, 1865 113

Part 4 The Aftermath of War (1866-1876)

Reconstruction and the Radical Republicans: Douglass to Charles Sumner, October 19, 1866 119

Douglass Declines: Douglass to the Citizens of Easton, Maryland, June 22, 1867 121

A Compromise on Suffrage Rights: Douglass to Josephine S. W. Griffing, September 27, 1868 124

Racial Realities in the Postwar Era: From Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892) 126

The Struggle for Civil Rights Legislation: "Supplementary Civil Rights Bill," New National Era, January 11, 1872 131

Douglass Becomes a Stalwart Republican: "Which Greeley Are We Voting For?," Richmond Daily Dispatch, July 25, 1872 133

The Freedmen's Bank: From Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892) 141

Part 5 Aging Reformer and Stalwart Republican (1877-1895)

Our National Capital: From "A Lecture on Our National Capital" (1877) 149

A Reunion with His Old Master: From Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892) 153

The Exoduster Movement: From "The Negro Exodus from the Gulf States" (1880) 157

Douglass's Second Marriage: Douglass to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, May 30, 1884 167

Birthday Wishes for an Old Friend: Douglass to the editor, New Era (Washington, DC), October 22, 1885 170

Minister to Haiti: Douglass to James G. Blaine, April 20, 1891 172

The "Negro Problem": From Lessons of the Hour (1894) 174

Recommended Reading 187

Index 189

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