Birth: February 1818 in Maryland

Death: February 20, 1895 in Washington, DC

Historical Role/Pertinence: A famous abolitionist, most known for his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and for serving as the first African American U.S. Marshal.

Frederick Douglass was originally born into slavery but escaped at age 20 to the North. He eventually settled in New Bedford, MA, a place with a growing community of Black abolitionists. There, Douglass and his wife, Anna, raised their five children before moving to Lynn, MA in their later years. Frederick Douglass's personal enslaved experiences drove him to become a dedicated and well-known abolitionist all throughout Massachusetts. Frederick Douglass's professional career took off when he traveled to Nantucket, MA and for the first time, spoke of abolition to an integrated audience. Douglass is also recognized for his writing on the abolition of slavery. His most widely known work is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Although that is Douglass’ most famous book, he wrote three autobiographies and edited numerous newspapers such as The North Star.

Most of Douglass’ work involved fighting for the freedom and equality of all African Americans. He spoke at the first Seneca Falls Convention and worked with President Lincoln to encourage African-American men to serve in the military during the Civil War. He held a position as a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Douglas also founded and became President of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, a bank dedicated to safeguarding the funds of Black veterans and former slaves. In 1877, Frederick Douglass served as the U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia under President Hayes. He was the first African-American man to hold this position.

Associated Exhibits

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Works Cited

“Frederick Douglass.” National Museum of African American History and Culture. Smithsonian. Accessed November 2023. https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/frederick-douglass.

“Frederick Douglass.” National Park Service. Accessed November 2023. https://www.nps.gov/nebe/learn/historyculture/frederickdouglass.htm.

“Frederick Douglass.” The White House Historical Association. Accessed November 2023. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/frederick-douglass.

“Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress.” Library of Congress. Accessed November 2023. https://www.loc.gov/collections/frederick-douglass-papers/about-this-collection/.

“Walking in Frederick Douglass’ Footsteps.” Nantucket Historical Association. Accessed November 2023. https://www.nantucket-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/37300/FD-WALKING-TOUR-FINAL-2-003.