Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, a slave, in Tuckahoe, Talbot County, Maryland. Mother is a slave, Harriet Bailey, and father is a white man, rumored to be his master, Aaron Anthony. He had three older siblings, Perry, Sarah, and Eliza.
Frederick Douglass saw the Civil War as the inevitable consequence of man's inhumanity to man and a necessary conflagration to break the bonds of slavery. He saw immediately that if former slaves could fully participate in the fighting, they could not be denied full citizenship in the Republic. George Luther Turner, one of the original backers of John Brown, became a major in the Union Army. He immediately turned to Douglass to help recruit "Colored" ; Troops.
Douglass recruited over one hundred free blacks from upstate New York for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. Among the recruits arriving at boot camp were two of Douglass' sons Lewis and Charles.
Lewis, the older son, served as the first sergeant major of the 54th and he was in the thick of the fighting at Fort Wagner where 1515 Union troops were mowed down by a blistering barrage from the Confederate stronghold. Lewis marveled that he returned unharmed from the assault.
President Lincoln sought Douglass' advise and invited him to the White House. Apparently the two men came to an immediate understanding and respect for one another. Douglass left that meeting feeling that his concerns would be addressed and he agreed to continue to do more recruiting. Douglass had one more meeting with Lincoln on behalf of the black soldiers concerning equal pay.
He felt that his advise was sincerely sought and duly considered. Nevertheless, Douglass was often frustrated by Lincoln's procrastination in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1863, was a decisive moment in the relationship of Douglass and Lincoln. Once having been issued, the slavery system was doomed. Douglass had persuaded Lincoln to make the pronouncement, and once having done so, the course of the war and the future of the nation were profoundly changed.
February 20, 1895, Speaks at a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C. Dies suddenly that evening of heart failure while describing the meeting to his wife.
Birth: Feb. 7, 1818
Death: Feb. 20, 1895
Buried: Mount Hope Cemetery
New York, USA
Plot: Section T, Lot 26