chapter  5
24 Pages

The Great Freedom War

When the Civil War broke out, Frederick Douglass was the most formidable black leader in the United States.1 Douglass was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland near the town of Easton. He was raised by his grandparents, having been separated from his natural mother when he was only weeks old. Douglass’s grandmother kept him until he was six years old. His slave-master sent him to live as a houseboy with Hugh and Sophia Auld when he was eight years old. Douglass was taught the alphabet by the compassionate wife of the slaveholder until he forbade her from instructing the young African since it was illegal to teach enslaved Africans how to read. However, Douglass had learned enough to teach himself. He bargained with young white boys, giving them food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing. When he was thirteen he came into the possession of The Columbian Orator, a schoolbook that was famous at the time, and it helped him gain an appreciation for words, language, and oratory.