Cover image for Frederick Douglass : prophet of freedom
Frederick Douglass : prophet of freedom
Blight, David W., author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018.
Physical Description:
xx, 888 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
"The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely traveled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights. In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass's newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass's two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight's Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves"--

"Frederick Douglass was the most important African American of the nineteenth century and one of the most significant writers and orators in American history. David Blight's long-awaited authoritative biography of this great American is based in part on papers never seen by previous biographers. Douglass was born a slave and escaped at the age of twenty. He was fortunate to have learned to read as a boy, and he would develop this skill forbidden to slaves to become one of the great writers of his era. But first he would make his reputation as the most celebrated orator of the abolition movement. Drawing on personal experiences, including his dramatic escape, he developed a genius with words and held audiences spellbound for hours. He knew his Bible and, like Jeremiah, warned his nation about the moral corruption of slavery. Over his lifetime he wrote three versions of his autobiography, all of which are classics of the slave narrative and of American memoir. He also edited two newspapers and mastered the short-form political essay. This former slave met with Lincoln in the White House and rejoiced in the victory of emancipation. He would become a loyal Republican for the rest of his life, steadfast in his commitment even when challenged during Reconstruction by younger men who accused him of blind allegiance to his party. He saw the promise of Reconstruction dashed by the resistance of former slaveholders and their allies, and he fought this betrayal as eloquently and ferociously as he had fought slavery itself. As a lecturer, he likely reached more listeners than any American of his century. Douglass's personal life was complex: his children were financially dependent on him even as adults, although they maintained relationships of great mutual devotion. His second marriage, to a white woman, scandalized even some of his supporters. He lived with a modern dilemma of fame like few others of his era. Frederick Douglass was the African American founder of the nation's second republic, the one born of the Civil War. He is a towering figure deserving of this biography based on nearly a lifetime of research."--Dust jacket.

"An acclaimed historian's definitive biography of the most important African-American figure of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass, who was to his century what Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the 20th century"--
First things -- A childhood of extremes -- The silver trump of knowledge -- Baltimore dreams -- Now for mischief! -- Living a new life -- This Douglass! -- Garrisonian in mind and body -- The thought of writing for a book! -- Send back the money! -- Demagogue in black -- My faithful friend Julia -- By the rivers of Babylon -- My voice, my pen, or my vote -- John Brown could die for the slave -- Secession: taught by events -- The kindling spirit of his battle cry -- The anthem of the redeemed -- Men of color to arms! -- Abolition war, abolition peace -- Sacred efforts -- Othello's occupation was gone -- All the leeches that feed on you -- Ventures -- What will peace among the whites bring? -- An important and lucrative office -- Joys and sorrows at Cedar Hill -- Watchman, what of the night? -- Born traveler -- Haiti: servant between two masters -- If American conscience were only half-alive -- Epilogue: Then Douglass passed.
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