Black history month day 14: social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglas.
Frederick Douglas was born a slave in Maryland in February of 1818. It is likely that his father was also his first master. He celebrated his birthday on February 14, although there is no official record of his date of birth. He was taught the basics of reading by his master’s wife, but her husband discouraged it believing that an education would draw slaves to want freedom. Douglass later insisted that education was the pathway to freedom, and his eloquence stunned many people and challenged the idea that blacks were not capable of being educated enough to enter society as free citizens. In fact, Douglass was so well spoken that many accused him of having never been a slave.
Douglass wrote several autobiographies. Describing his experiences as a slave. His 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, became a bestseller and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855).
After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active abolitionist as well as a women’s suffragist. He was active in the Republican Party. Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.
After escaping slavery, Douglass married a free black woman, Anna Murray and the two remained married for over 40 years and had several children. After Anna died, Douglass remarried to a white feminist and abolitionist named Helen Pitts. Though interracial marriage was certainly rare at the time, Pitts and Douglass were quite in love and paid no mind to detractors, many within their own families. Douglass responded to the criticisms by saying that his first marriage had been to someone the color of his mother, and his second to someone the color of his father.