Born into slavery on Marylands Eastern Shore, Frederick
Douglass was determined by his early teens to escape his
bondage, and in 1838, he fled northward to settle in Massachussetts.
He soon joined the antislavery movement, and by the mid-1840s
his commanding eloquence in offering firsthand testimony
to the oppressions of slavery had transformed him into
one of the movements most persuasive spokesmen. Recalling
the figure that Douglass cut at abolitionist gatherings,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote: He stood there like
an African prince . . . grand in his proportions, majestic
in his wrath, as with keen wit, satire, and indignation
he portrayed the bitterness of slavery.
Douglasss reforming zeal remained strong all his life.
After the Civil War put an end to slavery, he continued
to be a leading defender of the rights of African Americans
in the era where all too often those rights were ignored.
This likeness bears a strong resemblance to the engraved
portrait of Douglass that first appeared in the
1845 edition of his much- celebrated memoir of
his life in slavery. It is not clear, however,
whether the painted or the engraved likeness is