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Douglass continued, secretly, to teach himself how to read and write. He later often said, "knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom. In later years, Douglass credited The Columbian Orator , an anthology that he discovered at about age twelve, with clarifying and defining his views on freedom and human rights.

The book, first published in , is a classroom reader, containing essays, speeches and dialogues, to assist students in learning reading and grammar. When Douglass was hired out to William Freeland, he taught other slaves on the plantation to read the New Testament at a weekly Sunday school. As word spread, the interest among slaves in learning to read was so great that in any week, more than 40 slaves would attend lessons. For about six months, their study went relatively unnoticed.

While Freeland remained complacent about their activities, other plantation owners became incensed about their slaves being educated. One Sunday they burst in on the gathering, armed with clubs and stones, to disperse the congregation permanently. Thomas Auld sent Douglass to work for Edward Covey , a poor farmer who had a reputation as a "slave-breaker". He whipped Douglass so regularly that his wounds had little time to heal.

Douglass later said the frequent whippings broke his body, soul, and spirit. After Douglass won a physical confrontation, Covey never tried to beat him again. Douglass first tried to escape from Freeland, who had hired him out from his owner Colonel Lloyd , but was unsuccessful. In , he tried to escape from his new master Covey, but failed again. In , Douglass met and fell in love with Anna Murray , a free black woman in Baltimore about five years older than he.

Her free status strengthened his belief in the possibility of gaining his own freedom.

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Murray encouraged him and supported his efforts by aid and money. On September 3, , Douglass successfully escaped by boarding a north-bound train of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. The depot was located at President and Fleet streets, east of "The Basin" of the Baltimore harbor , on the northwest branch of the Patapsco River. Young Douglass reached Havre de Grace, Maryland , in Harford County , in the northeast corner of the state, along the southwest shore of the Susquehanna River , which flowed into the Chesapeake Bay.

Dressed in a sailor's uniform provided to him by Murray, who also gave him part of her savings to cover his travel costs, he carried identification papers and protection papers that he had obtained from a free black seaman. From there, because the rail line was not yet completed, he went by steamboat along the Delaware River further northeast to the "Quaker City" of Philadelphia , Pennsylvania, an anti-slavery stronghold.

His entire journey to freedom took less than 24 hours. I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity. There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. A new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath, and the 'quick round of blood,' I lived more in one day than in a year of my slave life.

It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe. In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York, I said: 'I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry lions. Once Douglass had arrived, he sent for Murray to follow him north to New York. She brought with her the necessary basics for them to set up a home.

They were married on September 15, , by a black Presbyterian minister, just eleven days after Douglass had reached New York. The couple settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts an abolitionist center, full of former slaves in , later moving to Lynn, Massachusetts in In New Bedford the latter was such a common name that he wanted one that was more distinctive, and asked Nathan Johnson to choose a suitable surname.

Nathan Johnson had been reading the poem The Lady of the Lake , and suggested "Douglass", [40] two of the principal characters in Walter Scott 's poem have the surname "Douglas". Douglass thought of joining a white Methodist Church but from the beginning, he was disappointed when he saw it was segregated.

He held various positions, including steward, Sunday School superintendent, and sexton. Years later, a black congregation formed there and by it became the region's largest church. Douglass also joined several organizations in New Bedford, and regularly attended abolitionist meetings. Inspired by Garrison, Douglass later said, "no face and form ever impressed me with such sentiments [of the hatred of slavery] as did those of William Lloyd Garrison.

At another meeting, Douglass was unexpectedly invited to speak. After telling his story, Douglass was encouraged to become an anti-slavery lecturer. Then 23 years old, Douglass conquered his nervousness and gave an eloquent speech about his rough life as a slave. While living in Lynn, Douglass engaged in early protest against the segregation in transportation. Buffum were thrown off an Eastern Railroad train because Douglass refused to sit in the segregated railroad coach.

During this tour, slavery supporters frequently accosted Douglass.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Summary

At a lecture in Pendleton, Indiana , an angry mob chased and beat Douglass before a local Quaker family, the Hardys, rescued him. His hand was broken in the attack; it healed improperly and bothered him for the rest of his life. I have no country. What country have I? The Institutions of this Country do not know me—do not recognize me as a man.

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Douglass's best-known work is his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave , written during his time in Lynn, Massachusetts [51] and published in At the time, some skeptics questioned whether a black man could have produced such an eloquent piece of literature. The book received generally positive reviews and became an immediate bestseller. Within three years, it had been reprinted nine times, with 11, copies circulating in the United States.

It was also translated into French and Dutch and published in Europe. Douglass published three versions of his autobiography during his lifetime and revised the third of these , each time expanding on the previous one. The Narrative was his biggest seller, and probably allowed him to raise the funds to gain his legal freedom the following year, as discussed below. Douglass' friends and mentors feared that the publicity would draw the attention of his ex-owner, Hugh Auld, who might try to get his "property" back.

They encouraged Douglass to tour Ireland, as many former slaves had done. Douglass set sail on the Cambria for Liverpool on August 16, He traveled in Ireland as the Irish Potato Famine was beginning. Eleven days and a half gone and I have crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a democratic government, I am under a monarchical government.

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Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle [Ireland]. I breathe, and lo! I gaze around in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim me as his slave, or offer me an insult. I employ a cab—I am seated beside white people—I reach the hotel—I enter the same door—I am shown into the same parlour—I dine at the same table—and no one is offended I find myself regarded and treated at every turn with the kindness and deference paid to white people.

When I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip to tell me, ' We don't allow niggers in here! He also met and befriended the Irish nationalist Daniel O'Connell [53] who was to be a great inspiration. Douglass spent two years in Ireland and Great Britain, where he gave many lectures in churches and chapels. His draw was such that some facilities were "crowded to suffocation". Douglass remarked that in England he was treated not "as a color, but as a man. In , Douglass met with Thomas Clarkson , one of the last living British abolitionists , who had persuaded Parliament to abolish slavery in Great Britain's colonies.

In the 21st century, historical plaques were installed on buildings in Cork and Waterford , Ireland, and London to celebrate Douglass's visit: the first is on the Imperial Hotel in Cork and was unveiled on August 31, ; the second is on the facade of Waterford City Hall and was unveiled on October 7, It commemorates his speech there on October 9, After returning to the U.

Besides publishing the North Star and delivering speeches, Douglass also participated in the Underground Railroad. He and his wife provided lodging and resources in their home to more than four hundred escaped slaves. Douglass also came to consider Garrison too radical. Earlier Douglass had agreed with Garrison's position that the Constitution was pro-slavery, because of its compromises related to apportionment of Congressional seats, based on partial counting of slave populations with state totals; and protection of the international slave trade through Garrison had burned copies of the Constitution to express his opinion.

Douglass's change of opinion about the Constitution and his splitting from Garrison around became one of the abolitionist movement's most notable divisions.

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Douglass angered Garrison by saying that the Constitution could and should be used as an instrument in the fight against slavery. In September , Douglass published an open letter addressed to his former master, Thomas Auld, berating him for his conduct, and enquiring after members of his family still held by Auld.

He suggested that the world would be a better place if women were involved in the political sphere. In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world.

After Douglass's powerful words, the attendees passed the resolution. He recalled the "marked ability and dignity" of the proceedings, and briefly conveyed several arguments of the convention and feminist thought at the time. On the first count, Douglass acknowledged the "decorum" of the participants in the face of disagreement. In the remainder he discussed the primary document that emerged from the conference, a Declaration of Sentiments, and the "infant" feminist cause.

Strikingly, he expressed the belief that "[a] discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency His opinion as the editor of a prominent newspaper carried weight, and he stated the position of the North Star explicitly: "We hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. After the Civil War, when the 15th Amendment giving Blacks the right to vote was being debated, Douglass split with the Stanton-led faction of the women's rights movement.

Douglass supported the amendment, which would grant suffrage to black men. Stanton opposed the 15th Amendment because it limited expansion of suffrage to black men; she predicted its passage would delay for decades the cause for women's right to vote. Stanton argued that American women and black men should band together to fight for universal suffrage , and opposed any bill that split the issues.

Stanton wanted to attach women's suffrage to that of black men so that her cause would be carried to success. Douglass thought such a strategy was too risky, that there was barely enough support for black men's suffrage. He feared that linking the cause of women's suffrage to that of black men would result in failure for both.