National Geographic (February 19, 2023) – Abraham Lincoln is revered as America’s abolitionist president, but his thoughts about ending slavery were far from ideal. It would take the steady influence of the abolitionist movement and one of its leaders, Frederick Douglass, to guide Lincoln to becoming “The Great Emancipator”. Douglass was himself born enslaved and through the power of education became a giant that influenced American history.
Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. February 1817 or 1818– February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, becoming famous for his orator and incisive antislavery writings. Accordingly, he was described by abolitionists in his time as a living counterexample to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave. It was in response to this disbelief that Douglass wrote his first autobiography.