Frederick Douglass is most well known for his activism in abolishing slavery and his support of women's suffrage. He spoke regularly on slavery and published several books on his life and experience with and escape from enslavement.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born in Maryland in 1818 to a mother in enslavement. This meant that Frederick, too, was a slave, but he was afforded some small privilege when he was selected to work in the home of Hugh Auld. Auld's wife Sophia taught Frederick the alphabet, something which was illegal at the time. Frederick continued learning to read and write from white children after Auld forbade his wife to teach him. Frederick's literacy greatly contributed to his accomplishments in later life.
In 1838, at the age of twenty, Frederick successfully escaped slavery when he fled to New York, a free state. He later moved on to Massachusetts and took the surname of Douglass. After his escape, Frederick Douglass began speaking at abolitionist meetings and throughout the free states about his life and the evils of slavery. In 1845 he wrote an autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Throughout his life he would revise and publish two more autobiographies.
Douglass published several abolitionist newspapers in his life and was an activist and supporter for women's rights. After the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, Douglass advised President Lincoln on the treatment of black soldiers during the Civil War conflicts. Douglass was the first African American man to hold a high-ranking office position in the United States government, serving as charge d'affaires for the Dominican Republic, consul general of the Republic of Haiti, and he was even nominated for vice president, though without his knowledge.