Frederick Douglass Timeline
Timeline Description: Frederick Douglass was an African-American orator, writer, statesman, and social reformer. After his escape from slavery, Douglass became the leader of the abolitionist movement and wrote several famous autobiographies. He was often called the most important black leader of slavery abolishment.

Date Event
February 1818 Frederick Douglass was born

Although his exact date of birth remains unknown, Douglass later chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14th, 1818. With no written record of his birth day or year, Douglass was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland, on a plantation between Hillsboro and Cordova. It was believed that his master was his father.
1828 Douglass' mother passed away

At the age of seven, Douglass was taken from his mother, who was sold to another master. He was cared for by his maternal grandmother, who got word of her daughter's death when Douglas was only ten. Frederick Douglass was then given to the Auld family and directed to serve in Baltimore.
1830 The first antislavery lecture

Douglass believed that he was around twelve years of age when Hugh Auld's wife, Sophia, began to teach him the alphabet. Maryland's law prohibited people from teaching slaves to read, but Sophia was a kind woman who wanted to treat him as a person. After receiving word that his wife was teaching him to read, Hugh was upset. He believed that teaching a slave to read would lead to his dissatisfaction with life and a desire for freedom. Douglass regarded this as his first antislavery lecture, which provoked him to want to keep learning.
1833 Douglass was traded back to Thomas Auld

Hugh's brother, Thomas, learned that Douglass had learned how to read and was furious. He took him back, selling him to Edward Covey, who was a man known to beat his slaves. Douglass rebelled against the beatings and won a physical confrontation. Covey never beat him again.
1836 Douglass' first attempt at freedom

Douglass tried to escape from Covey. He failed and waited a year before trying again.
1837 Douglass met his wife

Anna Murray, a free black woman in Baltimore caught Douglass' eye. They met and fell in love. Her standing as a free black woman reinforced his belief in attaining freedom.
September 3, 1838 Douglass escaped

Douglass jumped on a train near the site that later became known as the famous Underground Railroad. Dressed in a sailor's uniform he was given from his wife and using some of her savings, he obtained identification papers from a black seaman. Douglas made it to New York and sent for his wife to join him.
September 15, 1838 Douglass and Murray were married

Anna Murray and Frederick Douglass were married on September 15th by a Presbyterian minister eleven days after they were settled in New York. They adopted the surname Johnson to divert attention.
1839 Douglass became a preacher

Disturbed by the Methodist segregation and haughtiness, Anna and Douglass joined an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and he became a licensed preacher where his oratorical skills flourished.
1845 Douglass published his first autobiography

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was published in 1845. Although skeptics were uncertain if a black person could be sophisticated enough to produce an eloquent piece of literature, the book instantly became a bestseller and generated positive reviews.
1845 Friends encouraged Douglass to travel Ireland

With his immediate popularity after his book was released, friends were worried that his attention would cause his former masters to try to regain their property and they encouraged Douglass to travel. He spent two years in Ireland and Britain.
1846 Douglass spoke with British abolitionists

During his stay in Britain, Douglass encouraged Parliament to end slavery in the British colonies. Also, Douglass' freedom was official as British supporters raised the funds to buy his freedom from Thomas Auld.
1863 Frederick Douglass conferred with President Abraham Lincoln on the treatment of black soldiers and with Andrew Johnson on black suffrage.

The Emancipation Proclamation gave freedom to all slaves in the Confederate region after Douglass' views were revealed and he gave several speeches.
April 14, 1876 Douglass delivered the keynote speech at the Emancipation Memorial's inauguration

Douglass gave an inspiring speech and was given a standing ovation. Lincoln's widow gave Lincoln's favorite walking stick to Douglass, which still remains in Cedar Hill, Douglass' final dwelling which is now known as the Frederick Douglass National Historic site.
February 20, 1895 Douglass passed away

During a National Council of Women in Washington, D.C. meeting, Douglass died of a massive heart attack or stroke. Thousands attended his funeral to show their respect. His coffin was taken back to Rochester, New York, where he lived for 25 years and was buried by his wife. Frederick Douglass' work and life affected many people. His speeches, autobiographies, and many organizations helped many people throughout his life and still inspire people today. His statue stands in the United States Capitol Visitor Center.






Educational Videos