What did Frederick Douglass do that was so important for black history?I just need to know basic outline of him and his life. And how he contribute to black history.

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slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Frederick Douglass was an incredibly talented writer and orator who escaped slavery and brought the issue of slavery to the attention of people in the 1840s, 50s, and 60s. He grew up as a slave in Maryland, which is outlined in his work "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." He secretly taught himself to read and worked hard to save up some money and escape from slavery. In the early 1840s he began working with leaders of the Abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement, making speeches and educating people about the horrors of slavery. He wrote a book about his experiences to educate others, and started the newspaper "The North Star." He later became and advisor and diplomat to people like Abraham Lincoln. His work greatly educated the public about slavery and helped move the abolitionist movement forward. His famous works are "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and "The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself." By publishing these works and speaking to the public, he showed everyone that black people were intelligent and talented people too, and deserved freedom.

monopoly379 | Student

On January 1, 1836, Douglass made a resolution that he would be free by the end of the year. He planned an escape. But early in April he was jailed after his plan was discovered. Two years later, while living in Baltimore and working at a shipyard, Douglass would finally realize his dream: he fled the city on September 3, 1838. Travelling by train, then steamboat, then train, he arrived in New York City the following day. Several weeks later he had settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, living with his newlywed bride (whom he met in Baltimore and married in New York) under his new name, Frederick Douglass.

Always striving to educate himself, Douglass continued his reading. He joined various organizations in New Bedford, including a black church. He attended Abolitionists' meetings. He subscribed to William Lloyd Garrison's weekly journal, the Liberator. In 1841, he saw Garrison speak at the Bristol Anti-Slavery Society's annual meeting. Douglass was inspired by the speaker, later stating, "no face and form ever impressed me with such sentiments [the hatred of slavery] as did those of William Lloyd Garrison." Garrison, too, was impressed with Douglass, mentioning him in the Liberator. Several days later Douglass gave his speech at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's annual convention in Nantucket-- the speech described at the top of this page. Of the speech, one correspondent reported, "Flinty hearts were pierced, and cold ones melted by his eloquence." Before leaving the island, Douglass was asked to become a lecturer for the Society for three years. It was the launch of a career that would continue throughout Douglass' long life.

Despite apprehensions that the information might endanger his freedom, Douglass published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written By Himself. The year was 1845. Three years later, after a speaking tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland, Douglass published the first issue of the North Star, a four-page weekly, out of Rochester, New York.

Ever since he first met Garrison in 1841, the white abolitionist leader had been Douglass' mentor. But the views of Garrison and Douglass ultimately diverged. Garrison represented the radical end of the abolitionist spectrum. He denounced churches, political parties, even voting. He believed in the dissolution (break up) of the Union. He also believed that the U.S. Constitution was a pro-slavery document. After his tour of Europe and the establishment of his paper, Douglass' views began to change; he was becoming more of an independent thinker, more pragmatic. In 1851 Douglass announced at a meeting in Syracuse, New York, that he did not assume the Constitution was a pro-slavery document, and that it could even "be wielded in behalf of emancipation," especially where the federal government had exclusive jurisdiction. Douglass also did not advocate the dissolution of the Union, since it would isolate slaves in the South. This led to a bitter dispute between Garrison and Douglass that, despite the efforts of others such as Harriet Beecher Stowe to reconcile the two, would last into the Civil War.

Frederick Douglass would continue his active involvement to better the lives of African Americans. He conferred with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and recruited northern blacks for the Union Army. After the War he fought for the rights of women and African Americans alike.

shanwu | Student

What did Frederick Douglass do that was so important for black history?

adamar | Student

During the mid 1800s, people believed many false things about the abilities of slaves. Most of the negative views revolved around people of color being unable to think as well as whites.This prejudice was only possible because there was no representation of educated black people for others to point to.

The false view of black inferiority was further supported by many of the scientific thinkers of the time. This institutional prejudice further solidified in the common person the belief of racial inferiority. At least until Fredrick Douglass hit the scene in the 1840's.

In a time when most of the free population could barely read or write, a slave that could do both was miraculous. In addition, he was a powerful speaker that could energize a crowd. He could also shut down a detractor faster than most trained lawyers.

His ability to read, write and debate flew in the face of ingrained prejudiced beliefs. His very existence proved to many that they needed to rethink their position. But he would never have made the same impact without the abolitionist movement.

Using the abolitionist political platform, Fredrick Douglass received lots of publicity. That publicity helped other slaves get the courage to escape. It also silenced many would-be detractors that didn't believe a black man could think.

As a freed slave, Douglass was able to speak to both slaves and free people with more authority than others. His words also moved many who heard them to adopt his views. This made his endorsement of Abraham Lincoln something of consequence.

His later work as an advisor and diplomat continued to prove his innate intelligence. He called out everyone on their racist views, even allies when they deserved it. His outspoken and undeniable logic was above and beyond pretty much all of his peers.

So the combination of timing, luck, intelligence and an unbreakable will all combined to make Fredrick Douglass a superstar of his time. He continued to fight for equality his whole life, further cementing him as a giant of American black history.

mnyancey | Student

Frederick Douglass showed that it is nor where you start out in life, it is where you finish. He also showed the importance of education and how a willingness to learn can lead you to better places in life.

Born a slave and growing up without the ability to read, Frederick Douglass tricked some young white males to teach to read. He challenged the youth by saying they couldn't read certain passages. He would then learn to read simply by following along and pick up the words they were saying.

Despite not being able to read growing up, Douglass wrote two bestselling auto-biographies of his life. Showing people that no matter your circumstances, you can always better yourself.

lexil0 | Student

Frederick douglas was a freed slave. He pushes aboltion and because he was educated He was able to tell the story of the slave. He could articulate the treatment of slaves ans he also demonstrated the fact that blacks are equal to whites by holding himself in a respectable manner. 

mj1999 | Student

fredrick douglass encouraged other black males/females to be in the u.s. army and kind of stoped it