As a lecturer, writer, editor and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass (ca. 1818-1895)
emerged as the most prominent African American of the nineteenth century
to fight for racial justice. Under Garrison’s mentorship, Douglass
adopted “moral suasion” as an abolitionist strategy. Impatient
with this approach, Douglass later broke from Garrison, believing that
political activism was the only way to achieve freedom. Although vehement
in his rhetoric, Douglas refused to use violence. Indeed, he refused to
defend or take part in John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry.
Douglass wrote three autobiographies, edited four newspapers, lectured
nationally and internationally, and recruited black soldiers for the Civil
War. He advised and pressured Lincoln to make slavery the single most
important issue of the Civil War and remained committed to integration
and civil rights for all Americans throughout his life.
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