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  • Published: 1 February 1994
  • ISBN: 9780940450790
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1126
  • RRP: $67.99
Categories:

Frederick Douglass

Autobiographies (LOA #68)



Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the only authoritative edition of all three autobiographies by the escaped slave who became a great American leader.

Here in this Library of America volume are collected Frederick Douglass's three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature. Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly effective spokesman for the abolition of slavery and equal rights, Douglass shapes an inspiring vision of self-realization in the face of monumental odds.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), published seven years after his escape, was written in part as a response to skeptics who refused to believe that so articulate an orator could ever have been a slave. A powerfully compressed account of the cruelty and oppression of the Maryland plantation culture into which Douglass was born, it brought him to the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and drew thousands, black and white, to the cause.

In My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), Douglass expands the account of his slave years. With astonishing psychological penetration, he probes the painful ambiguities and subtly corrosive effects of black-white relations under slavery, and recounts his determined resistance to segregation in the North. The book also incorporates extracts from Douglass’s speeches, including the searing “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

Life and Times, first published in 1881, records Douglass’s efforts to keep alive the struggle for racial equality udirng Reconstruction. John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe all feature prominently in this chronicle of a crucial epoch in American history. The revised edition of 1893, presented here, includes an account of his controversial diplomatic mission to Haiti.

This volume contains a detailed chronology of Douglass’s life, notes providing further background on the events and people mentioned, and an account of the textual history of each of the autobiographies.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

  • Published: 1 February 1994
  • ISBN: 9780940450790
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1126
  • RRP: $67.99
Categories:

About the author

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey to a slave woman and an unknown white man in either 1817 or 1818. He was enslaved in Baltimore and Maryland for twenty years, first as a servant and then as a farm hand. He escaped in 1838, married, and settled in Massachusetts where he began work as an anti-slavery crusader. Following a fantastically eloquent speech at an anti-slavery convention he was hired by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society to lecture about his life as a slave. He was such a brilliantly gifted public speaker that many doubted he had ever been a slave, and this stereotype – that a slave couldn’t be intelligent or articulate – was something he fought ardently against. He wrote his autobiography partly to address this – it became an instant bestseller on publication. After the outbreak of the civil war he successfully persuaded President Lincoln to allow black soldiers to enlist. He was, at various times, Federal Marshall of the District of Columbia, President of the Freedman’s Bank, United States Minister to Haiti, and charge d’affaires for the Dominican Republic. He died in 1895 shortly after delivering a speech at a women’s rights rally.

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