Timeline of the Life of Frederick Douglass


“Intelligence is a great leveler here as elsewhere”

 c. 1818

Frederick Douglass, neé Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, was born inHolmes Hill Farm in Tuckahoe, Talbot County, Maryland. His mother was Harriet Bailey, a slave, his father was a white man believed to be his master Aaron Anthony. Read more about his early life. He was separated from his mother as an infant.


Douglass lived with his grandmother Betsey Bailey.


His mother died. He saw her four or five times during his life.
Douglass was separated from his grandmother and moved to the Wye House plantation, the Great House, owned by Colonel Lloyd. Too young to work in the plantation, he run errands and kept the yard clean. He observed the slave’s brutal conditions working under Aaron Anthony.


Master Anthony sent Douglass to work with Hugh Auld in Baltimore to serve as a care taker of his toddler son, Thomas. Hugh Auld was the brother of Colonel Anthony’ son-in-law, Thomas Auld.
Sophia Auld, wife of Hugh Auld, taught Douglass the alphabet. She stopped teaching him as her husband disapproved considering it unlawful and unsafe as education and slavery are incompatible with each other.
Douglass was determined to learn to read and write.


Douglass discovered the book The Columbian Orator which gave him the concept of freedom and human rights.


His interest in religion and god was awakened by listening to the preaching of a white Methodist minister named Hanson. He became acquainted with a colored man named Lawson who taught him about the Bible.


His master Aaron Anthony died leaving no will. His property was divided between his son Andrew and daughter Lucretia. Frederick Douglass was to be Lucretia’s property. Lucretia was married to Thomas Auld.
Lucretia Auld died.


Left Baltimore for St Michael’s to live his new master, Thomas Auld.
The Aulds sent Douglass to Edward Covey, a slave breaker, for a year to be trained in the field. He constantly punished him physically.


Thomas Auld hired Douglass’ service to William Freeland from St Michael.
Started a Sunday school to teach other slaves how to read.


Devised ways and means to escape but his plot was discovered. He and his companions were sent to jail in Easton.


Master Thomas Auld sent Frederick to work with his brother Hugh in Baltimore.
Hugh Auld hired Douglas to William Gardner, a ship builder on Fell’s Point. After a fight with white workers Frederick did not return to Gardner’s shipyard.
Hugh Auld took him to the shipyard of Walter Price where he learned caulking and soon was making the highest wages of all caulkers.


With borrowed documents from a sailor Douglass escaped from slavery using the Underground Railroad and headed to New York. His final destination was New Bedford, Massachusetts where he settled. In New York he married Anna Murray. A private ceremony was conducted by reverent J.W.C Pennington, a well known Presbyterian Minister.
In New Bedford he changed his last name to Douglass, a character from the poem “Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott. He kept his first name.
Worked several jobs to support family.


Daughter Rosetta (1839 – 1906) was born.


Subscribed to The Liberator, a newspaper edited by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. He got a clear understanding of the principles of the antislavery movement.
Son Lewis Henry (1840 – 1908) was born
Attended every antislavery meeting in New Bedford.

Next 1841-1860

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