Cover image for Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
McFeely, William S.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [1991]

Physical Description:
xiii, 465 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E449.D75 M2 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E449.D75 M2 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
E449.D75 M2 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
E449.D75 M2 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E449.D75 M2 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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This biography of Frederick Douglass covers the life of an orator, abolitionist and writer. Douglass was one of the most powerful voices for freedom in the United States and his autobiographies (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass) have shaped the American view of slavery.

Author Notes

McFeely has written the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Grant, as well as other important works of history. He lives in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Booklist Review

McFeely's biography of Frederick Douglass supplies a welcome portrait of the slave-turned-abolitionist-orator and a careful reconsideration of his ideas and writings. The chapters on Douglass' youth and adolescence in Maryland establish not only the harshness of the slave life he witnessed firsthand but also the special treatment he was granted by the Baltimore family in which he was raised. The ambivalence that this created for Douglass is examined in detail, particularly in juxtaposition with the dark picture Douglass' own biographical writings give of this period. Douglass' escape on the underground railroad and his activities in the abolitionist movement, both in the U.S. and internationally, are also recorded. In addition, McFeely offers criticism of Douglass as a man who distanced himself from his black heritage. McFeely is also the author of Grant: A Biography (1981). Notes, bibliography; to be indexed. ~--John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historian McFeeley's biography recounts Douglass's transformation from self-taught escaped slave to the preeminent 19th-century civil rights leader. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Frederick Douglass, one of the noblest of 19th-century figures, recounted his life in three autobiographies. The first and most compelling, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), is indespensable for its moving account of his self-education under slavery and his escape to the North. But in the achievements of Douglass's long and active career there are complex social, political, and psychological issues that his self-portraits alone cannot entirely encompass. In attempting to do justice to these issues, Pulitzer Prize-winning author McFeely has written a brilliant book that ranks with the finest achievements in 20th-century biography. In faultless prose, backed by intensive scholarship, McFeely steers a level course through Douglass's turbulent odyssey as the nation's leading orator and figurehead of the strife-ridden antislavery and Civil Rights movements. In subjecting Douglass's words and deeds to keen and concise analysis at practically every turn, McFeely reveals Douglass's personal vanities and political indiscretions, but after surviving the close scrutiny, Douglass's greatness stands that much more secure. Robert Sevra's flawless narration makes this a program that, along with Douglass's Narrative, is a must for every collection.-Peter Josyph, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-- This excellent biography fluently tells the life story of Douglass, one of the 19th century's most famous writers and speakers on abolitionist and human rights causes. It traces his life from his birth as a slave in Maryland, through his self-education, escape to freedom, and subsequent lionization as a renowned orator in England and the United States. Readers familiar with his life will be grateful for the little-known information about his family, and a general audience will enjoy the well-rounded, literate stories of Douglass's contemporaries. Fascinating, too, are accounts of the era's politics, such as the racist views held by some abolitionist leaders and the ways in which many policies made in post-Civil War times have worked to the detriment of today's civil rights movement. The chapter on Frederick Douglass and John Brown is, in itself, interesting enough to commend this powerful biography. The seldom-seen photographs, the careful chapter notes, documentation, and acknowledgements will encourage YAs to become not only dedicated Douglass historians but also avid William McFeely fans.-- Isabelle Bligh, Edison High School, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

McFeely's elegant interpretive biography of Douglass builds on the sturdy foundation of Benjamin Quarles's classic Frederick Douglass (1948). Crafted from thorough research and written in beautiful prose, McFeely's book examines anew many of the Douglass myths--some, in fact, that the black abolitionist himself set forth in his influential Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, (1845). McFeely argues that for all of Douglass's monumental contributions to his race, he nonetheless exhibited hard-driving ambition, arrogance, and contempt for working-class people. Douglass proved inconsistent in his commitment to African American causes. In the 1870s, for example, he opposed the emigration of the black "Exodusters" to Kansas. Though vague on Douglass's views concerning race, especially racial amalgamation, McFeely correctly underscores Douglass's unflagging dedication to the dignity and equality of all men and women. His life symbolizes the heroic triumph of the slave over the barbarities of enslavement and of the freedman over proscription and racial hatred. For public, college, and university libraries. -J. D. Smith, North Carolina State University

Table of Contents

1 Tuckahoep. 3
2 Wye Housep. 11
3 Fells Pointp. 26
4 St. Michaelsp. 40
5 The Freeland Farmp. 49
6 Baltimorep. 58
7 New Bedfordp. 74
8 Nantucketp. 86
9 Lynnp. 91
10 Pendletonp. 104
11 Corkp. 119
12 Edinburghp. 131
13 4 Alexander Streetp. 146
14 25 Buffalo Streetp. 163
15 South Avenuep. 183
16 Tremont Streetp. 201
17 Fort Wagnerp. 217
18 Philadelphiap. 238
19 Mount Vernonp. 253
20 Kansasp. 265
25 07 Pennsylvania Avenuep. 274
22 Uniontownp. 291
23 Niagara Fallsp. 305
24 Africap. 324
25 Port-Au-Princep. 334
26 Môle St. Nicolasp. 346
27 Chicagop. 359
28 Cedar Hillp. 375
29 Chesapeake Bayp. 384
Notesp. 387
Bibliographyp. 421
Acknowledgmentsp. 437
Indexp. 443