The story of a slave, who learned to read and write by reading the Bible, and when he escaped became one of the greatest campaigners for abolition. A gifted orator, his book became a best seller.
Douglass had been born as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, and had been born into slavery on in a planation on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, probably in his grandmother's cabin. He successfully escaped from slavery after meeting and falling in love with Anna Murray, a free black woman in Baltimore about five years older than him. She strengthened his belief in the possibility of gaining his own freedom and after escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, becoming famous for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. His communication skills and intellect provided a powerful counter argument to the slaveholders' arguments, that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.
His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom.