Born into slavery, Frederick Douglass escaped and went on to become an accomplished human rights leader, author and the first African-American to be appointed to a high rank in the United States government.
Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland sometime around 1818. As he stated in his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he did not even know his own birthday. Despite bans on teaching slaves to read and write, Douglass learned those skills, as well as oratory. After two failed attempts, Douglass successfully escaped from slavery to New York.
After his escape, Douglass became a leader in the abolitionist movement and published a Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which was a best-seller in the United States.
Douglass consulted with Abraham Lincoln at the time of the Civil War and helped persuade the president to champion the cause of emancipation.
Douglass would continue to champion human rights throughout his life and published two more books. He held a number of government posts, including recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia and minister to Haiti.
Douglass died February 20, 1895, of a heart attack.
He left behind a legacy as abolitionist, civil rights leader, author and orator.
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