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ABOLITIONIST (1817-1895)

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1818, and was given the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey after his mother Harriet Bailey.  During the course of his remarkable life he escaped from slavery, became internationally renowned for his eloquence in the cause of liberty and went on to serve in the national government in several official capacities.  Through his work, he came into contact with many of the leaders of his times.  His early work in the cause of freedom brought him into contact with a wide array of abolitionists and social reformers, including William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, John Brown, Gerrit Smith, and many others. 

As a major Station master on the Underground Railroad, he directly helped hundreds on their way to freedom through his adopted home city of Rochester, NY.  He lectured throughout the US and England on the brutality and immorality of slavery.  As a publisher, his North Star and Frederick Douglass' Paper, brought news of the antislavery movement to thousands.  Forced to leave the country to avoid arrest after John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, he returned to become a staunch advocate of the Union cause.  He helped recruit African American troops for the Union Army, and his personal relationship with Lincoln helped persuade the President to make Emancipation a cause of the Civil War.  Two of Douglass' sons served in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which was made up entirely of African American volunteers.  The storming of Fort Wagner by this regiment was dramatically portrayed in the film, "Glory" A painting of this event hangs in the front hall at Cedar Hill.  


Revised: July 18, 2013.