Frederick (Bailey) Douglass
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Frederick Augustus Washington (Bailey) Douglass (abt. 1818 - 1895)

Frederick Augustus Washington Douglass formerly Bailey
Born about in Talbot, Maryland, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Son of [father unknown] and
Brother of [half]
Husband of — married 15 Sep 1838 in New York, United Statesmap
Husband of — married 24 Jan 1884 in District of Columbia, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Washington, District of Columbia, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 24 Jul 2014 | Last significant change: 30 Apr 2021
17:20: Ryan Quinn edited the Biography for Frederick Augustus Washington (Bailey) Douglass (abt.1818-1895). [Thank Ryan for this]
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Frederick (Bailey) Douglass was a part of the Abolitionist Movement.

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) was an African-American social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman. He was born into slavery but escaped to become a leader in the abolitionist movement. Douglass' best-known work is his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1845.[1]

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery circa 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland. He was separated from his mother, Harriet Bailey, when he was an infant. She died when Frederick was seven. Frederick originally stated that he was told his father was a white man, perhaps his owner, Aaron Anthony. He said he knew nothing of his father's identity. Frederick lived with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey until[1] he was eight. His first owner died and Frederick was separated from his grandmother, going to live with Thomas Auld. It would be a briefly positive move for Frederick, as it would connect him with Sophia Auld, Thomas' sister-in-law, who, despite the disapproval of her husband, taught Frederick how to read and write. Once Sophia was no longer able to continue his lessons, Frederick would barter with people on the streets to learn more and continue his education.[1]

At fifteen, he was taken away from Baltimore to be "tamed" at the cruel hands of Edward Covey. Frederick eventually attacked Covey, in order to survive and in hopes that Covey would back off. After failed escape attempts in the backwoods, Auld returned to take Frederick back to Baltimore and promised to free him after seven years. Late in Auld's life, Frederick visited to his bedside to make sure Auld knew he was forgiven and that it was slavery he abhorred, not the man himself.[1]

Frederick boarded a train in Baltimore in 1838 and escaped north to freedom dressed in a sailor’s uniform stitched by his fiancée, a free woman, Anna Murray. His escape route on the Underground Railroad would take him to New York; Newport, Rhode Island; and finally to New Bedford, Massachusetts. He received the help of Nathan and Polly Johnson, well-known African American abolitionists in Massachusetts.[2]

Once in Massachusetts, Frederick changed his surname to Douglass in honor of a Walter Scott poem, and along with his bride Anna, began their life together. They had five children together, including three sons who served in the Civil War. [1][2]

Frederick quickly became a favorite abolitionist and anti-slavery speaker, traveling throughout the country and around the world to reveal the horrors of slavery, that “peculiar institution.” He used his personal experience to give a human face to the sufferings of slavery. His celebrity made him one of the most photographed men of the nineteenth century.[2][1]

Later, when he moved to Rochester, New York, his print shop was a depot on the Underground Railroad. Frederick was outspoken for women's rights, and in 1848 at Seneca Falls when Elizabeth Cady Stanton launched the women's movement, his speech was instrumental in the passage of a resolution asking for women's suffrage. He was often at odds with the movement, though, as he viewed women as a minority, whereas Stanton believed them an ignored majority. [2][3][1]

In 1895, Frederick attended a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C., where he was brought to a platform and given a standing ovation by the audience. Right after he returned home, Frederick Douglass died, on February 20, 1895, of a massive heart attack in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York. He was a prominent member of Metropolitan AME church in the District.[4][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 The Prophetic Pragmatism of Frederick Douglass (The New Yorker, 10/15/18)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Frederick Douglass", New Bedford Historical Society, accessed 11 Feb 2020
  3. National Geographic, Vol. 166, No.1 July 1984
  4. "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 August 2017), F W Douglass, Washington, Washington, District of Columbia, United States; citing enumeration district ED 7, sheet 143C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0121; FHL microfilm 1,254,121.
  5. famous church Metropolitan AME
  • "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Frederick Douglass, Rochester, ward 7, Monroe, New York, United States; citing family 70, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  • "United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2017), Fredrick Douglass, 1860.
  • "United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Frederick Douglass, New York, United States; citing p. 15, family 106, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,469.
  • "District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), Frederick Douglass and Helen Pitts, 24 Jan 1884; citing p. 7145, Records Office, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 2,025,890.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Frederick by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Frederick:

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Comments: 9

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This a very inspiring and informative biography. Frederick Douglas is an American Hero!
posted by Kathryn (Burner) Hamm
Congratulations to all the WikiTree contributors who crafted this enlightening profile!
posted by C Ryder
His mother has a profile: Bailey-7481
posted by Jessica Key
He wrote his story down so as to be able to pass on his knowledge and the facts that made him who he was. This was an amazing thing for those who have come after because we now have the chance to learn from our past from someone who lived it.

His book source:

Douglass, Frederick, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: An American Slave, Signet classics, Published by Penguin Group, 375 Hudson street, New York, New York, 10014. 1997

posted by Lisa (Kelsey) Murphy
He was born into slavery and decided to arm himself with something far more dangerous that guns, knives or bombs like most would. He was whipped for his beliefs with a hickory stick. He was starved until he collapsed, but he did not get persuaded to stop believing. He knew the ability to read and the bravery to share your story was much more powerful. He started illegally teaching other slaves to read and write when he was 16. By 20 he had a much bigger group to teach as he had escaped to New York. He is quoted "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

Meltzer, Brad, Heroes for my son, pgs 94-95 Harper Collins Publishing

posted by Lisa (Kelsey) Murphy
In the Wikipedia article he is said to have named his mother in his autobiography: Harriet Bailey. He also is a notable.
posted by Isara (Chellis) Argent
After frederick's escape from slavery in 1838 he married Anna Murray a free black woman. They had four children who were Rosetta in 1839, Lewis in 1840, Frederick Jr. in 1842 and Charles in 1844. Anna Douglass died in 1882, and two years later Douglass married Helen Pitts, a white woman who had been his secretary.
posted by [Living sandoval]

A Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Different websites for information.

posted by [Living sandoval]
(Quote) "I do not go back to America to sit still, remain quiet, and enjoy ease and comfort. . . . I glory in the conflict, that I may hereafter exult in the victory. I know that victory is certain. I go, turning my back upon the ease, comfort, and respectability which I might maintain even here. . . Still, I will go back, for the sake of my brethren. I go to suffer with them; to toil with them; to endure insult with them; to undergo outrage with them; to lift up my voice in their behalf; to speak and write in their vindication; and struggle in their ranks for the emancipation which shall yet be achieved."
posted by [Living sandoval]