America in the 1850s

The Emergence of John Brown

How did Frederick Douglass become the best-known African American of his time?

Like Anthony Burns, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was born into slavery in Maryland, and like Burns, Douglass knew that his slavemaster was also his father. Douglass escaped slavery and made his way to Massachusetts, where he soon became the darling of abolitionist groups. Handsome, cultivated, and self-assured, Douglass defied many of the stereotypes concerning blacks, black men in particular.

Stern-faced and clean-shaven John Brown was a noted abolitionist who believed only armed conflict could end slavery. He was active in “Bleeding Kansas” during the late 1850s.


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