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Frederick Douglass Timeline

the many faces of frederick douglass
1818-1835 | 1836-1846 | 1847-1859 | 1860-1876 | 1877-1895
1847 Returns from overseas tour; moves to Rochester, New York.

With money raised by English and Irish friends, buys printing press and begins publishing the abolitionist weekly North Star. He continues publishing it until 1851.

Image: caption following John Brown.
Biographical File.
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.
Reproduction Number:
1848 Participant in first women's rights convention, Seneca Falls, New York.

Meets and becomes acquaintance of abolitionist John Brown.

Begins sheltering escaped slaves fleeing north on the "underground railroad."

Daughter Rosetta is asked to leave school in Rochester because she is African-American; Douglass begins struggle to end segregation in Rochester public schools.

1849March 22
Daughter Annie is born.

Hires a tutor to teach his wife, Anna, to read, but the effort is unsuccessful.

Image: caption following North Star, June 2, 1848.
Edited by Frederick Douglass
and Martin Delany.
Serial and Government
Publications Division
. (2-10)
1851Merges North Star with Gerrit Smith's Liberty Party Paper to form Frederick Douglass' Paper (printed until 1860). Agrees with Smith that the Constitution is an antislavery document, reversing his earlier statements that it was proslavery, an opinion he had shared with William Lloyd Garrison. This change of opinion, as well as some political differences, create a rift between Douglass and Garrison. Douglass begins to assert his independence in the antislavery movement.
1852Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin, an antislavery novel. It sells three hundred thousand copies its first year in print and helps galvanize opinions on both sides of the slavery issue.
1855 Publication of his second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom.
1856 Becomes friends with Ottilia Assing, a German journalist living in New Jersey. She eventually translates My Bondage and My Freedom into German.
1857In the Dred Scott case, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that African Americans are not U.S. citizens and that Congress has no authority to restrict slavery in U.S. territories.
Image: caption following Dred Scott.
Biographical File.
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.
Reproduction Number:
1859 John Brown and other abolitionist followers raid the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, then in Virginia. He plans to start a slave insurrection and provide refuge for fleeing slaves. Federal troops capture him, and he is eventually tried and hanged. Authorities find a letter from Douglass to Brown. Douglass flees to Canada and then to a planned lecture tour of England to escape arrest on charges of being an accomplice in Brown's raid.
1859-63 Begins publishing Douglass' Monthly, first as a supplement to Frederick Douglass' Paper. It becomes an independent publication the following year and is distributed until 1863.
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