A Chronology of Douglass’

Life and Accomplishments

1818

Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland. His mother was a slave, and his father was white.

1824

Douglass was raised by his grandmother until the age of six, when he was sent to the work on the Lloyd Plantation in St. Michaels, Maryland.

1826

Douglass was sent to Baltimore to work for Hugh Auld, a relative of his original owner, Aaron Anthony. There he was fed better and treated more humanely.

1833

At about the age of 15, Douglass was sent back to St. Michaels.

1834

One year later, he was sent to work for Edward Covey, who was known as a slave-breaker. A little more than halfway through his time there, Douglass physically confronted Covey and prevailed; Covey never beat him again.

1835

At about the age of 17, Douglass was hired out William Freeland and attempted to escape. After being caught, he was sent back to Hugh Auld in Baltimore, who trained him to be a ship caulker.

1837

At the age of 19, Douglass met and fell in love with Anna Murray, who was a free black woman working in Baltimore. Murray saved her wages and sold some possessions to help finance Douglass’s escape.

1838

When he was about 20 years old, Douglass escaped slavery and married Anna Murray days after arriving in New York. Unable to find work as a ship-caulker because of his race, he performed manual labor in New Bedford, Massachusetts for three years.

1839

Douglass began speaking at abolitionist meetings.

1841

Douglass met William Lloyd Garrison, president of the American Anti-Slavery Society and editor of the antislavery newspaper The Liberator, which Douglass had already been reading. Garrison, deeply impressed, immediately hired Douglass as an anti-slavery speaker.

(Photo Credit: https://voicesofhistory.org/)

1842
– 1845

Douglass traveled around New England and New York speaking for Garrison’s organization.

1845

Douglass published his first memoir, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, and soon left on a speaking tour of England and Ireland to avoid capture as a fugitive slave. The following year, some friends were able to purchase his freedom.

1847

Douglass returned to the United States, moved to Rochester, New York and began his own paper, The North Star (later renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper), which advocated for abolition and voting rights for women and free blacks in the North.

1855

Douglass published his second memoir, My Bondage and My Freedom. During these years he also sheltered fugitive slaves in his home as part of the Underground Railroad.

(Photo Credit: http://dcc.newberry.org/)

1861
-1865

During the Civil War, Douglass actively recruited blacks for the Union Army—all three of his own sons enlisted—but he stopped recruiting when he learned of persistent discrimination against black soldiers.

(Photo Credit: http://www.pbs.org/)

1865

Following the conclusion of the Civil War, Douglass pushed even harder for black voting rights.

(Photo Credit: https://asc.coursestorm.com/)

1870

After the Fifteenth Amendment enfranchised blacks, Douglass continued advocating for black civil rights around the country. He declined to run for office but served in a variety of appointed positions for various presidents.

1871

President Grant appointed Douglass to a diplomatic post to the Dominican Republic.

1877

President Hayes appointed Douglass Marshal of the District of Columbia.

1881

President Garfield appointed Douglass Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia.

(Photo Credit: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/)

1886
-1887

During the Civil War, Douglass actively recruited blacks for the Union Army—all three of his own sons enlisted—but he stopped recruiting when he learned of persistent discrimination against black soldiers.

1889

Douglass toured Europe and North Africa, visiting old friends and touring historical sites (Life and Times, pp. 407-434)

1895

Douglass spent the last years of his life denouncing lynching. He died of a heart attack at the age of 77.

Thousands attended Douglass’s funeral to pay their respects, including the entire faculty of Howard University, Senators Hoar and Sherman and Supreme Court Justice Harlan. He was buried in Rochester, New York. (Quarles, p. 349)

#WhoIsFrederickDouglass  |  #DouglassBicentennial