Born a slave in Maryland, Frederick Douglass was first taught to read by his master’s wife when he was a boy, but he had to continue learning on his own, as teaching a slave to read was illegal. Douglass escaped to the North in 1838 and became an outspoken abolitionist. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, was published in 1845, making him an international celebrity. He became a leader of the abolitionist movement and in 1847, began publishing the North Star, the abolitionist weekly paper. He participated in the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. During the Civil War he recruited northern blacks for the Union Army and served as an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln. In 1877 he was appointed United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, Recorder of Deeds for Washington, D.C., and in 1899 became Minister-General to the Republic of Haiti.
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