Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass: He Fought for Freedom

On a plantation in Maryland, in 1818, Frederick Douglass was born into slavery. His life was very, very difficult, but he had a burning desire for a better life, and he was willing to work hard — and he was willing to take great risks — in order to make his dreams come true.

When he was a young boy, his master’s wife taught him the alphabet. Soon, Frederick secretly taught himself to read and write. At age 20, Frederick gained his freedom by escaping to New York. Then, for the rest of his life, he fought against slavery and against other forms of injustice. He even gave advice to President Abraham Lincoln.

It took great courage for Frederick Douglass to seek freedom for himself and for others. No wonder he’s still admired as an American hero.  

Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Poster
Bright Ideas

Quotes About Freedom

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door to freedom.”
George Washington Carver

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
Bob Dylan

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela

“We must be free, not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”
William Faulkner

“I’d like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free and wanted other people to be also free.”
Rosa Parks

Nifty Fifty

About Maryland

It’s a Fact: Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland. So was another famous abolitionist, Harriet Tubman. And the famous baseball player Babe Ruth was born in Maryland, too.

It’s a Fact: The biggest city in Maryland is Baltimore. The capital of Maryland is Annapolis. Annapolis is also the home of the United States Naval Academy. The abbreviation for Maryland is MD.

It’s a Fact: While he was in Baltimore during The War of 1812, a lawyer named Francis Scott Key wrote a poem called Defence of Fort McHenry. His poem was later put to music and the title was changed to The Star Spangled Banner. The Star Spangled Banner officially became the national anthem of the United States in 1931.

It’s a Fact: Although it is a relatively small state, Maryland has long coastlines that boarder on the Chesapeake Bay and on the Atlantic Ocean. The combined length of Maryland’s tidal shoreline, including islands, is 4,431 miles.

More Fun Facts

Fun Fact: At birth, Frederick Douglass was named Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. He changed his last name from Baily to Douglass after he escaped from Maryland to New York.

Fun Fact: Frederick Douglass was an exceptional public speaker. He made many speeches against slavery, and he also spoke in favor of voting rights for all Americans. (At the time, women couldn’t vote and neither could people of color.)

Fun Fact: One of the reasons that his speeches were so powerful was because Frederick Douglass had actually been a slave, so he could give a firsthand account of what it was like to live in slavery. Because he was speaking about his own experiences, his stories had a great impact on his audiences.

Fun Fact: Frederick Douglass was also an excellent writer. His first book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, is still considered a classic.

Fun Fact: Frederick Douglass didn’t know the exact day he was born, so he decided to celebrate his birthday on February 14th. That’s one of the reasons Americans celebrate Black History Month in February.

Questions and Answers
Just for fun,
see if you can answer these questions.
Which United States president did Frederick Douglass give advice to? Was it Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, or Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Frederick Douglass gave advice to Abraham Lincoln.

Is the biggest city in Maryland Baltimore or Annapolis?
Baltimore is the biggest city in Maryland.
Was Frederick Douglas given his freedom, or did he escape?
He escaped to New York, where slavery was illegal.
Is Maryland more famous for its shorelines or for its mountains?
Maryland is known for its long shorelines and for water sports, such as boating, sailing, and fishing.
Write Your Own Story

If you have time, you can write a story of your own.

Here are a couple of story ideas you can choose from.

Story Idea #1: You could write about the amazing life of Frederick Douglass. What are some of the things you admire about him?


Story Idea #2 If you could ask Frederick Douglass one question, what would it be? How do you think he would answer it?

To help you write a great essay, we have some helpful hints and timely tips.

Today's Ryder Riddle
Here's a riddle for you:
Why is it so easy to weigh a fish?
Because it has its own scales!
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