September 3rd 1838: Douglass escapes

On this day in 1838 Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery. When he was around twelve, the wife of his plantation owner began teaching Douglass the alphabet and he was soon able to read and write. He had to learn in secret as the plantation owners soon decided an educated slave was dangerous. When they discovered he was teaching other slaves to read, Douglass was sent to a ‘slave breaker’ who frequently whipped him. His education had led him to challenge the institution of slavery and in 1838 he escaped by boarding a train to Maryland using the papers of a free sailor and ended up in the New York safe house of abolitionist David Ruggles. Douglass went on to become a prominent abolitionist, famous for his oratory and his intelligence, which disproved slaveholder claims that slaves were not intelligent enough to be free. After the Civil War he continued to fight for equal rights, including women’s suffrage. He died in 1895 aged 77.

"On Monday, the third day of September, 1838, in accordance with my resolution, I bade farewell to the city of Baltimore, and to that slavery which had been my abhorrence from childhood."
from ‘Life and Times of Frederick Douglass’, 1881

09/03/13 at 1:01pm
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