The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Douglass, Frederick
DOUGLASS, Frederick, an American orator and journalist, born at Tuckahoe, near Easton, Talbot co., Md., about 1817. His mother was a negro slave and his father a white man. He was reared as a slave on the plantation of Col. Edward Lloyd, until at the age of 10 he was sent to Baltimore to live with a relative of his master. He secretly taught himself to read and write, was employed in a ship yard, and, in accordance with a resolution long entertained, fled from Baltimore and from slavery Sept. 3, 1838. He made his way to New York and thence to New Bedford, where he married and lived for two or three years, supporting himself by day labor on the wharves and in various workshops. In the summer of 1841 he attended an anti-slavery convention at Nantucket, and made a speech which was so well received that he was offered the agency of the Massachusetts anti-slavery society. In this capacity he travelled and lectured through Massachusetts and other New England states for four years. In 1845 he published an autobiography, and soon after its appearance he went to Europe and lectured on slavery to enthusiastic audiences in nearly all the large towns of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. In 1846 his friends in England contributed £150 to have him regularly manumitted in due form of law. He remained two years in Great Britain, and in 1847 he began at Rochester, N. Y., the publication of “The North Star,” whose title was changed to “Frederick Douglass's Paper,” a weekly journal, which he continued for some years. In 1855 he rewrote and enlarged his autobiography, under the title of “My Bondage and my Freedom.” His supposed implication in the John Brown raid in 1859 led Governor Wise of Virginia to make a requisition for his arrest upon the governor of Michigan, where he then was. In consequence of this Mr. Douglass went to England, and remained six or eight months. He then returned to Rochester, and continued the publication of his paper. When the civil war broke out in 1861 he urged upon President Lincoln the employment of colored troops and the proclamation of emancipation. In 1863, when permission was given to employ such troops, he assisted in procuring men to fill up regiments of them, especially the 54th and 55th Massachusetts. After the abolition of slavery he discontinued his paper and applied himself to the preparation and delivery of lectures before lyceums. In September, 1870, he became editor of the “New National Era” in Washington, which is continued under the care of his sons Lewis and Frederick. In 1871 he was appointed secretary to the commission to Santo Domingo; and on his return President Grant appointed him one of the territorial council of the District of Columbia. In 1872 he was elected presidential elector at large for the state of New York, and was appointed to carry the electoral vote of the state to Washington.