Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became one of the great American anti-slavery leaders of the 1800s. Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland but he knew it wasn’t God’s plan for him to stay there.
When Frederick was about 10, he was given to Anthony’s daughter, Lucretia Auld. She and her husband Thomas sent Douglass to serve his brother, Hugh, in Baltimore, where he learned to read while working as a house slave. In 1833, after Thomas and Hugh got in a dispute, Thomas took back the slaves. Douglass returned to Thomas’s estate the same year and resumed work as a field hand.
Thomas was a cruel master, starving and beating his slaves and breaking up their attempts to worship, read and write. He leased Douglass out to other masters who attempted to break his independent spirit with physical and emotional abuse. Eventually, Douglass returned to Hugh in Baltimore, fell in love and started a family. This increased his hatred of slavery and in 1838, at the age of 20, armed with fake papers, a sailor-suit disguise and hope for the future, he escaped to the free North with the help of Anna Murray, the free black woman from Baltimore with whom he had fallen in love.