Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818. He was separated from his mother at a young age and never knew his father. Douglass was taught to read and write by his master’s wife, which was against the law. He was frequently beaten by his master and other slaveholders. In 1838, he escaped from slavery by boarding a train to Pennsylvania. After arriving in Philadelphia, he went to New York City and worked as a shipyard laborer.
Douglass became involved in the abolitionist movement and started giving speeches about his experiences as a slave. In 1845, he published his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” The book was a bestseller and helped recruit more people to the abolitionist cause.
Douglass continued to fight for equal rights for African Americans well into the 1860s; however, this work took its toll on him physically and emotionally. He died in 1895 at 77 years old.