American abolitionist, orator, journalist, and memoirist. Born a slave in Maryland, Douglass learned at a young age how to read and write, even though it was against the law to teach literacy to a slave. In 1836 he escaped from his master and fled to the North with Anna Murray, also a freed slave, whom he later married. Douglass soon became an important orator in the abolitionist movement and, with the publication of his first autobiography,
A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), an international spokesman for freedom. Douglass founded the anti-slavery newspaper the North Star in 1847 and actively recruited black soldiers to join the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. He continued his autobiography in My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881, rev. 1892). See also loc.gov/collection/frederick-douglass-papers/about-this-collection.