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Frederick Douglass Posters, Books, Video, Links for Learning
Frederick Douglass teaching resources for social studies, history and language arts classrooms.

famous men > FREDERICK DOUGLASS < black history < history < social studies

Frederick Douglass as a Young Man with Autograph, Giclee Print
Frederick Douglass
as a Young Man
with Autograph,
Giclee Print

Frederick Douglass
b. 2-14-c.1818; Talbot Co., MD
d. 2-20-1895; Washington, DC

Frederick Douglass, African American abolitionist, orator and writer was born as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, a slave, on a farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Frederick's mother was Harriet Bailey, he believed his father was a white man.

Frederick was raised by his grandmother until he was about six years old. Considered old enough to work, he was taken to the main farm to rejoin his siblings. When his bright and engaging personality was discovered Frederick was chosen to be a companion to the master’s youngest son and eventually to go live in Baltimore.

In Baltimore Frederick first heard and understood about freedom, and he also learned to read. Douglass would later say that “Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity.”

But because a slave who could read was considered dangerous, Douglass was sent back to the farm to be “broken”. His first escape attempt was found out but somehow was not ‘sold South’ and later managed to escape to New York and then on to New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1838. He immediately sent for his fiance, Anna Murray, and they were married in September of 1838.

Frederick was a very fine speaker and passionate about the evil of slavery. He found friends and eventually became a traveling speaker with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. When people couldn’t believe that a black man could be capable of his accomplishment he wrote “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” which made him even more famous.

The book also revealed the identity of his slave owner and Douglass found it prudent to travel to England on a speaking tour. In England supporters raised the money to purchase his freedom. When he was criticized by other abolitionists who said buying freedom was an acknowledgement that one person has a right to own another person, he responded he considered he had been kidnapped and the ransom had been paid.

When Douglass came back to America he lived in Rochester, New York, published an abolitionist paper “The North Star” and became a major conductor on the Underground Railroad. He came to favor political struggle and championed the rights of women, speaking at the first women’s rights convention in 1848.

One of the people Douglass knew was the fiery abolitionist John Brown. Brown invited him to join in the raid planned on the Federal Armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Douglass didn’t agree with the violent approach and though he declined the invitation, for a time his name became linked with the attack.

Douglass helped recruit black soldiers for the Union army during the Civil War, and with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, the US moved into the Reconstruction period which Douglass supported. Douglass also campaigned for Republican presidential candidates. He was the first black citizen to hold a high rank in the United States government.

Frederick and Anna had five children; Rosetta, Lewis, Frederick, Jr., Charles and Annie. Anna died in 1882 and Frederick remarried in 1884 to Helen Pitts, a white woman. Douglass died in 1895 at his home called Cedar Hill in Anacostia, Washington, DC at the age of 77.

The Search for Frederick Douglass’ Birthplace is great inspiration for your study of Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass quotes ~
• “There is no Negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution...”
• “One you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
• “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
• “Strive earnestly to add to your knowledge. So long as you remain in ignorance, so long will you fail to command the respect of your fellow man.”
• “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunde rand lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.” (1857)
• “Truth is proper and beautiful in all times and in all places.”

Celebrate Black History

Frederick Douglass, Writers Who Changed the World Poster
Frederick Douglass
Writer's Who Changed
the World Poster Series

Frederick Douglass

Poster Text: “The more I read, the more I was lead to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men.”- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery in rural Maryland – he never knew exactly when he was born. As a child, he wore nothing but a shirt, ate little but mush, and lived in fear of the brutal beatings that were common on the plantation. When he was 7 or 8 years old, he was sent to Baltimore to serve as a houseboy for the Auld family. Mrs. Sophia Auld taught “Freddy” the alphabet and some simple words before her husband ordered her to stop. But Freddy did not stop, and he learned how to read by tricking some white servants into helping him. By the time he was went back to work in the fields, he had made up his mind to be free. He held on to this feeling through several years of horrible treatment as a field slave. He finally escaped in 1838 and made his way north to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he took the name “Frederick Douglass.”

An anti-slavery group invited Douglass to talk to them. He soon became known as a powerful speaker and a leader of the abolitionist movement. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, was published in 1845. The book was very popular because Douglass wrote about the evils of slavery in his own truthful words.

After Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was published, Douglass was the best-known and most respected African American leader in the nation. He founded a magazine, published two more works of autobiography, and helped recruit African American troops during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Douglass served as Minister to Haiti and as the Marshal for the District of Columbia. He died in 1895.

• more Writers Who Changed the World posters

Frederick Douglass, Photographic Print
Frederick Douglass, Photographic Print

Portrait of Frederick Douglass, Giclee Print
Portrait of Frederick Douglass, Giclee Print

Portrait of Frederick Douglass Giclee Print
Portrait of Frederick Douglass Giclee Print

Portrait of Frederick Douglass, Giclee Print
Frederick Douglass,
Giclee Print
Matthew Brady

Frederick Douglass Notecard
Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass Speaking in England on His Experiences as a Slave in the USA, Giclee Print
Frederick Douglass Speaking in England on His Experiences as a Slave in the USA,
Giclee Print

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Copied from Cabinet Card, Type of Portrait, Photographic Print
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Copied from Cabinet Card, Type of Portrait,
Photographic Print

Poster for the Fugitive's Song Composed in Honour of Frederick Douglass, Giclee Print
The Fugitive's Song, Composed in Honour
of Frederick Douglass,
Giclee Print

The Underground Railroad Map Wall Poster
Railroad Map
Wall Poster

Underground Railroad Map
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Josiah Henson, & Levi Coffin

• more Underground Railroad posters
• more map posters

Civil Rights 1865 - 1920 poster
Civil Rights
1865 - 1920

The Struggle for Civil Rights 1865 - 1920 Poster

The end of the Civil War brought freedom and hope to former slaves throughout the South. No longer would they live in chains and in fear of their master's whips. But for far too many former slaves this joy did not last long. The chains and whips were soon replaced by less noticable but equally demeaning forms of oppression. Most blacks continued to work in the fields of white landowners. ...

• more Civil Rights posters

• more Black History posters
Civil Rights quotes

Books and video about Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass : Autobiographies : Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave / My Bondage and My Freedom / Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Library of America) by Frederick Douglass, Henry Louis Gates (Editor) - A new one-volume edition of an American classic- Frederick Douglass, born a slave, educated himself, escaped, and made himself one of the greatest leaders in American history. His brilliant anti-slavery speeches were so fiercely intelligent, and so startlingly eloquent, that many people didn't believe he had been a slave. To prove them wrong, Douglass decided to write his own story. His autobiographical narratives stunned the world, and have shocked, moved, and inspired readers ever since. Here, complete for the first time in one authoritative volume, are the three powerful and gripping stories, now recognized as classics of American writing. Fascinating firsthand accounts of slavery and abolitionism, John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, Reconstruction, and the emerging struggle for civil rights, they are above all the inspiring story of a self-made American: a slave who became adviser to the President, minister to Haiti, and the most influential black American of the nineteenth century.

Young Frederick Douglass: Freedom Fighter (First-Start Biographies) by Andrew Woods - Designed especially for beginning readers, First-Start Biographies trace the childhood years of famous men and women who overcame obstacles and achieved greatness. Illustrated in full color. Ages 4-8.

Africans in America - the accompanying volume to the PBS series looks at the history of slavery in the United States with an honesty that reveals both horror and heroism in the common humanity of all Americans.

Frederick Douglass Biography video - Frederick Douglass, the self-taught orator, writer, and abolitionist who was born a slave in the South and made a brave escape to the North, was in the words of one historian: ?A major figure in the coming of the Civil War, and the way the Civil War was fought. I think you can say he was the conscience of the nation.? Douglass campaigned Lincoln to free the slaves and allow African Americans to serve in the nation's army. An early proponent of women’s rights, he campaigned for equal rights for all people and he served as America's first African American statesman when he was appointed diplomat to Haiti. He continued his public-speaking engagements up to his death in 1895 at the age of 78. The comments and analyses of numerous historians and excerpts from the writings and speeches of Douglass present a man driven by a dream, and who worked to make that dream a reality to the end of his days. With no contemporaries alive to comment on the private man, and only brief autobiographical excerpts included from his own works, this portrait tends to simplify the controversies of his life (his second marriage to a white woman rocked even the “liberal” North) and deify the man, but few Americans deserve such tribute more than Frederick Douglass.


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