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9 Unknown Facts About Frederick Douglass You Should Know

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Frederick Douglass was one of the most influential African Americans of the 19th century. Much is said about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman, but Douglass isn’t spoken about to such an extent. His long-lasting legacy and achievements are a testament to his impact. 

Douglass fought for equal rights for black people and rose to the highest hierarchy of political leadership. But there’s more to him than that. In this post, we will tell you facts about Frederick Douglass you didn’t know.

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Black History Month Was Designated in February to Celebrate Him

Portrait of Frederick Douglass. Source: Wikimedia licensed by Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication

The “Negro History Week” was founded close to Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays to commemorate their achievements. Douglass’ exact date of birth remains unknown, but he selected February 14 after his mother named him Little Valentine.

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Most Photographed American in the 19th Century

Frederick Douglass went out of his way to get photographed. This was a way to fight for civil rights and ensure African Americans were portrayed accurately. Douglass didn’t smile because he was combating the ‘happy slave narrative” and the black-face skits white Americans portrayed.

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Only African American to Attend the First Women’s Rights Convention 

The first Women’s Rights convention was held on July 19, 1848. Elizabeth M’Clintock invited him through a letter to which he positively responded. The convention was geared to fight for the civil, social and religious rights of women.

Helped in Enlisting Black Men in the Army During the Civil War

Frederick Douglass life story. Video Credit: HISTORY

Frederick was instrumental in getting black people to join the Union Army to gain respect, freedom, and citizenship. His sons were among the first to join after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Further, he met Lincoln to discuss their working conditions and ensure they received proper treatment.

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Nominated for Vice President of the United States

Long before Barack Obama received a presidential nomination, Frederick Douglass had broken that ceiling. In 1872, the Equal Rights Party nominated him, but he didn’t accept it because it was done without his consent. Also, Douglass was not an official presidential candidate.

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Douglass Was an Author

Frederick Douglass books. Video Credit: Media Messengers

Frederick Douglass published several books including The Life and Times of Frederick DouglassThe Narrative of the Life of Frederick DouglassMy Bondage and My Freedom and an American Slave. His books capture his story as an enslaved person and the advancement to abolish slavery.

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Frederick Douglass enjoyed taking photographs. If you love taking images, check out the collection at Target.

Worked for Five U.S. Presidents

Frederick Douglass brushed shoulders with the political elite. We know he had access to former President Abraham Lincoln. Who else did he work with? Well, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and William Henry Harrison.

Statue of Frederick Douglass at Frederick Douglass Circle, 110th St & Central Park West, NYC. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Went to Britain to Avoid Re-Enslavement

In 1845, Frederick escaped to Britain after his master wanted to forcefully capture and enslave him. People welcomed him and he spent time doing speech engagements. He gave over 300 speeches in Rochdale. John Bright, who he stayed with, helped him to regain his freedom.

He contributed a third of the money needed to free Douglass. Together with the Quakers’ community, they raised enough and bought his freedom. As of 12 December 1846, he wasn’t legally a slave in the United States.

Married Twice

Frederick Douglass first married Anna Murray in 1838 and had five children. She helped him regain freedom. She died in 1881 from a stroke. Not long after that, Douglass married his second wife, Helen Pitts. People criticized his union with her because Pitts was white. 

Frederick Douglass was a big force in the abolishment of slavery and the spread of equality and human rights. He rose from slavery and through educating himself, he rose to the highest level and fought for the betterment of African Americans.

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.


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