Escape From Slavery & Support for Women's Rights
I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
At the age of twenty, Douglass succeeded on his third attempt to escape slavery, assisted by Anna Murray. She provided him with money, identification and a sailor's uniform. September 3, 1938, he boarded a train and escaped to a safe-house in New York. He sent for Murray and they were married on September 15.
They settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where a free black community was thriving. They joined a church and regularly attended abolitionist meetings. Douglass was asked to tell his own story. At this time, Douglass displayed his gift for persuasion and rhetoric. He became a regular speaker.
William Lloyd Garrison was impressed with his ability and wrote about him in The Liberator. Several days later, Douglass spoke at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's annual convention. At Garrison's urging, Douglass wrote his first autobiography: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
When his autobiography was published in 1845, it became a best seller in America. It was translated into several European languages. Fame had its troubles for Douglass, however. The avoid recapture, he spent two years touring Ireland. Eventually, British abolitionists gathered funds to purchase Douglass' freedom. He would publish two more versions of his story in his lifetime, each one revised and expanded.
Upon his return from Europe, Douglass began work in abolitionist journalism. He published The North Star for sixteen years. Its motto was "Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren."
Douglass was also a supporter of women's rights. In 1848, he was the only black to attend the first women's rights conference in Seneca Falls, New York. He stated that we would not accept the right to vote as a black man if women did not have that same right.