Frederick Douglass

Essay by splatJunior High, 9th gradeB+, January 1997

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On an unknown date in 1817, on a slave plantation in Tuckahoe Maryland,

Frederick August Washington Bailey was born. Frederick was raised in a house

on the plantation with all the other slave children. At the age of seven,

like many other slaves, Frederick was put to work in the fields. As a young

child he would wonder why he was a slave, and why everyone can't be equal.

His thoughts frequently came back to him, leaving him with a great hatred for

slavery. In 1836, Frederick had finally had enough of his imprisonment, and

attempted an escape with many other slaves. The escape was not successful,

Frederick and the other slaves were sent to work in a shipyard hauling crates.

Frederick worked the shipyard for two years until he had another great escape

idea, this one would work though. The sailing papers of a sailor had been

borrowed, and disguised as a sailor, Frederick Douglass made his escape to New

Bedford, Massachusetts.

Upon his arrival, Frederick took up his new assumed

last name Douglass, to escape being captured. In 1841, Frederick attended an

anti-slavery convention in Nantucket Massachusetts. Here, his impromptu

speech he gave showed him to be a great speaker. The opponents of Frederick

believed that he was never a slave, because of his great speaking skills

and knowledge. In response to this, Frederick wrote his life story in his

book _Life and Times of Frederick Douglass_. Frederick made a fatal mistake

though, he had used the name of his old master on the slave plantation. Upon

learning of this, his old master sent slave catchers to New England to bring

him back. Fearing a life of slavery again, Frederick fled to England. Here

in England, he gave many lectures on the abolitionists movement, and earned

sufficient funds to buy his freedom in America. In 1847, Frederick became the

'station master' of the Underground Railroad in Rochester, New York. Here

he also began publishing his anti-slavery newspaper, The North Star. During

these publishing years, Frederick became good friends with John Brown. John

had a vision of training groups of men to help slaves escape via the

Underground Railroad. However, in 1859, Douglass learned it was Brown's

intention to raid the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. He was sure this

would bring disastrous results, and took no part in the raid. Following the

raid, Douglass fled to Europe, fearing the government would hold him

responsible for what had happened. He stayed for six months, until finally

returning to America to campaign for Abraham Lincoln during the Presidential

election of 1860. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Frederick helped raise

the regiment of the Massachusetts 54th. This group of soldiers fought hard,

and Douglass was respected as a leader of ex-slaves. Frederick soon fought

for the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments for the U.S. Constitution, which gave

rights to everyone. He became U.S marshal for the District of Columbia

(1877-81), recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia (1881-86) and U.S.

minister to the Republic of Haiti (1889-91). After his death in 1895, people

mourned the loss of one of the great freedom fighters of the 1800's.