In the grad scheme of the labor movement, Frederick Douglass is by far one of the most important pioneers. Today, WFP History is proud to recognize his achievements.
Born a slave in February 1818, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey worked on Maryland Plantations until the age of 20. During that time, he managed to teach himself to read with the help of his owners wife. He then encouraged and secretly taught a class of 40 other slaves to read until being discovered by their owners.
After two failed attempts Douglass finally made his escape from slavery by posing as a sailor. Using rail and waterways, Douglass was able to escape from Maryland to New York in less than 24 hours. Douglass was 20 years old.
Once in New York, Douglass went on to become one of the most important abolitionists in the nation. He published an autobiography so well written it proved him to be just as , if not more intelligent than any of his white counterparts. The attention gained from his book garnered fears that Douglass may be captured and sent back to his owner in Maryland, so Douglass took a sabbatical to Ireland where he lectured on the injustices back home. The people of Ireland and Britain were so moved by Douglass, they pooled together and officially bought his freedom, making Frederick Douglass legally a free man.
With his freedom, Douglass returned to the States where he published a number of abolitionist journals and continued to advocate for slave and woman’s rights. He gained such notoriety that he went on to confer with President Lincoln prior to the emancipation proclamation and eventually held a number of various government positions.
Frederick Douglass spent his entire life advancing the state of blacks in this nation. For that, we commend him.