Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom


The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

Title:Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

About David W. Blight

David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including

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    Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Reviews

  • Mehrsa

    This book is beautiful. One description called it "cinematic" and I think that's pretty accurate. You feel the sense of Douglass and the beautiful prose really captures his words and the time. It's an...

  • Hadrian

    An impressive and revealing biography of a major figure in American history.Douglass had lived an extraordinary life, and it is hard to keep track of all of his separate tasks and roles through his th...

  • Chris

    Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley We like, want, our heroes to be uncompleted, to always be heroic and constant while in the spotlight, and to leave that spotlight before they change politics or ideals. W...

  • Donna Davis

    2.5 stars, rounded up. Thanks go to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for the DRC, which I received free in exchange for this honest review. Douglass is a key figure in American history, and Blight ha...

  • Christopher Saunders

    Monumental biography of one of 19th Century America’s most remarkable men: Frederick Douglass, who went in a few decades from runaway slave to abolitionist figure and writer to presidential adviser,...

  • Scott  Hitchcock

    It's amazing how little I knew about Douglass beyond a couple of headline bullets. When thinking of Civil Rights leaders the 1950's and 60's leaders are well documented in our society but not nearly e...

  • Scott Pomfret

    This account of the life of Frederick Douglass convinced me that in a hundred years we will view anti-immigrant sentiment as we now look at those who opposed abolition. Not because "Prophet of Freedom...

  • Calzean

    This is a big book that held my interest for most pages.The book traces the life of Frederick Douglass in a linear progression. The early chapters on his years in slavery depend mostly on his autobiog...

  • Marks54

    While I had known of Frederick Douglass since high school, the first time I really encountered him was while watching Ken Burns’ miniseries The Civil War in 1990, when Morgan Freeman stirringly read...

  • Rachel Rooney

    I was over 90% done with this 36 hour audiobook when it was cruelly ripped out of my ears by the library, so I am going to call it done for now and hope to finish it later this year when my hold comes...