Frederick Baily was born a slave in February 1818 on The Holmes Hill Farm just outside the town of Easton Maryland. His mother worked long hours in the corn fields surrounding the farm and he knew very little about his father except that he was white. Frederick last saw his mother at the age of seven when he was then taken to a new plantation near Baltimore to work for Hugh and Sophia Auld, a relative of his master. At the Auld’s home his only duties were to run errands and take care of their new born son, Tommy. It was there when Frederick learned the beginning steps of reading from Sophia, She would often read to him from the Bible. Fearing a educated slave Hugh put an end to his wife’s teachings, however this did not stop Frederick. When he realized that the ability to read and write was his pathway to freedom, learning became a personal goal. He made friends with poor white children he met on errands and paid them bread for lessons. Little by little Frederick learned to read and write (T.S.Y.,2).
In 1833 when Frederick was fifteen he was given up to another member of the Auld family, Thomas. The good days of Frederick’s slave life were over. He was now forced to labor in the field and was starved and beaten frequently. There he organized religious services for the slaves. Thomas had a difficult time controlling Frederick and was sent to Edward Covey, a poor farmer known as the “Slave Breaker”. After a severe beating Frederick received when he was sixteen he decided to finally fight back. Later Frederick wrote, “At that moment from whence came the spirit I don’t know – I resolved to fight.” (Adler). From that point on he never lost sight of his freedom. Frederick started a school for blacks that met secretly at night, and with five other slaves he began to plan his first escape. Unfortunately just before the escape date in 1836, one of the conspirators was caught and turned the others in, resulting in the imprisonment of the five slaves. Frederick was released to his second owner Thomas Auld, and was brought back to Baltimore. Now he was eighteen years old and fell in love with a free black women named Anna Murray, to which he soon proposed to.
Frederick’s life was not harsh with the Auld family and Thomas promised to free him on his twenty-fifth birthday. Despite his owners kindness he borrowed money from Anna and bought a ticket to Philadelphia. Dressed as a sailor Frederick safely made it all the way to New York City with a friends “sailor protection papers”, a document that certified a black person was a free seamen (T.S.Y.,5). Once in New York he changed his name to Frederick Douglas and set for Anna, who he soon married in 1838. Together they moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts and had five children.
Frederick believed that people are not property and spread his beliefs anyway he could. He got a job for an antislavery newspaper called the Liberator and traveled to other cities trying to sell subscriptions. He later started his own antislavery news paper which spook out against the racial prejudice he found in the north. Although Frederick Douglas was born into slavery in the south, he lived to become one of the most influential figures in African American history and his actions had a great effect on the society of that time. On February 20, 1895 Frederick Douglas passed away after a heart attack at age seventy-seven.