Frederick Douglass

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Abolitionist Frederick Douglass History

Frederick Douglass Homepage

Abraham Lincoln referred to Frederick Douglass as "the most meritorious man of the nineteenth century."

Honorable Frederick Douglass
Honorable Frederick Douglass.jpg
Honorable Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass has been referred to as the father of the civil rights movement. He rose through determination, brilliance, and eloquence to shape the American nation. He was an abolitionist, human rights and women's rights activist, orator, author, journalist, publisher, and social reformer.
 
Committed to freedom, Douglass dedicated his life to achieving justice for all Americans, in particular African-Americans, women, and minority groups. He envisioned America as an inclusive nation strengthened by diversity and free of discrimination.
 
Douglass even served as advisor to presidents. In his later years, he was appointed to several offices. He served as U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia during Rutherford B. Hayes' administration and President James Garfield appointed him the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him to be the U.S. Minister to Haiti. He was later appointed by President Grant to serve as secretary of the commission of Santo Domingo. Douglass had hoped that his appointments would open doors for other African-Americans, but it was many years before they would follow in his footsteps. "His accomplishments and achievements endure..."

The "Frederick Douglass homepage" includes the following resources for the Honorable Frederick Douglass: History, Biography, Essay, Summary, Timeline, Overview, and Speeches.
 
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Recommended Reading: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (Barnes & Noble Classics Series). Description: No book except perhaps Uncle Tom’s Cabin had as powerful an impact on the abolitionist movement as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. But while Stowe wrote about imaginary characters, Douglass’s book is a record of his own remarkable life: a powerful biography. Born a slave in 1818 on a plantation in Maryland, Douglass taught himself to read and write. In 1845, seven years after escaping to the North, he published Narrative, the first of three autobiographies. Continued below...

This book calmly but dramatically recounts the horrors and the accomplishments of his early years—the daily, casual brutality of the white masters; his painful efforts to educate himself; his decision to find freedom or die; and his harrowing but successful escape. An astonishing orator and a skillful writer, Douglass became a newspaper editor, a political activist, and an eloquent spokesperson for the civil rights of African Americans. He lived through the Civil War, the end of slavery, and the beginning of segregation. He was celebrated internationally as the leading black intellectual of his day...and his story still resonates. Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, by Frederick Douglass, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars; Biographies of the authors; Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events; Footnotes and endnotes; Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work; Comments by other famous authors; Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations; Bibliographies for further reading; Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate. All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. AWARDED 5 STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org

Frederick Douglass:
 
 
See also:
 

Recommended Reading: 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) (Hardcover: 1100 pages). Review From Library Journal: Douglass (1818-95), a former slave, rose to become an abolitionist, writer, and orator. In this collection of his autobiographical writings, edited by Gates (humanities, Harvard Univ.), he gives an extensive overview of his life. The work includes Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845); My Bondage and My Freedom (1855); and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). Continued below...
In Narrative, Douglass comments on his birth, his parentage, his two masters, and the brutality of slavery he witnessed. In Bondage, he reflects on his childhood, life on the plantation, and his runaway plot. Life and Times concludes the trilogy: it covers his early life as a slave, his escape from bondage, and his connection with the antislavery movement. This massive volume containing Douglass's seminal works is highly recommended for black history collections.
 

Recommended Reading: The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics. Review From Publishers Weekly: The perennial tension between principle and pragmatism in politics frames this engaging account of two Civil War Era icons. Historian Oakes (Slavery and Freedom) charts the course by which Douglass and Lincoln, initially far apart on the antislavery spectrum, gravitated toward each other. Lincoln began as a moderate who advocated banning slavery in the territories while tolerating it in the South, rejected social equality for blacks and wanted to send freedmen overseas—and wound up abolishing slavery outright and increasingly supporting black voting rights. Conversely, the abolitionist firebrand Douglass moved from an impatient, self-marginalizing moral rectitude to a recognition of compromise, coalition building and incremental goals as necessary steps forward in a democracy. Continued below...

Douglass's views on race were essentially modern; the book is really a study through his eyes of the more complex figure of Lincoln. Oakes lucidly explores how political realities and military necessity influenced Lincoln's tortuous path to emancipation, and asks whether his often bigoted pronouncements represented real conviction or strategic concessions to white racism. As Douglass shifts from denouncing Lincoln's foot-dragging to revering his achievements, Oakes vividly conveys both the immense distance America traveled to arrive at a more enlightened place and the fraught politics that brought it there. AWARDED FIVE STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org

 

Recommended Reading: The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Dover Value Editions). Description: Raised as a plantation slave, Douglass went on to become a writer, orator, and major participant in the struggle for African-American freedom and equality. In this engrossing narrative he recounts early years of abuse; his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom, abolitionist campaigns, and his crusade for full civil rights for former slaves.

 

Recommended Reading: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself (Enriched Classics) (Mass Market Paperback). Description: Frederick Douglass's powerful autobiographical account of life in bondage and his triumphant escape to freedom. EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: A concise introduction that gives readers important background information; A chronology of the author's life and work; A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context; An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations; Detailed explanatory notes; Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work; Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction; A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience. Continued below…

Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.

 

Recommended Reading: Douglass: Autobiographies (Library of America College Editions). Description: 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. Continued below...

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.
 
Recommended Viewing: Biography - Frederick Douglass (A&E DVD Archives). Description: 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. Continued below... 
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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