Chapter

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098372.003.0006
Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

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When Frederick Douglass, the most important and visible black man in America, made the pronouncement in 1863 that the term “negro” was at that moment the most pregnant word in the English language he was laboring vigilantly to mold the nation's transition from slavery to freedom. His own transition had come decades earlier, in 1838, when he, as a Maryland slave, then named Frederick Bailey, journeyed by ferry and train to New York. He stayed there long enough to await and marry fellow runaway Anna Murray before heading toward New England and changing his name to Douglass, a name he casually adopted, and misspelled, from Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake. In the 1890s, he rose from the ashes of disappointment and confusion. He spoke on behalf of suffrage for blacks and its benefit to the nation. He joined Ida Wells in denouncing the wave of lynchings in the South and renewed his advocacy of women's rights.

Keywords: Frederick Douglass; slavery; freedom; blacks; suffrage; Ida Wells; South; lynchings; women's rights

Chapter.  10380 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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