This lecture is based on David Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 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, Douglass 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. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s entire life, from a plantation in Maryland, to his escape and education, his two marriages and complex extended family. For this biography, the first major work on Douglass in nearly 25 years, Blight drew on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted and recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers.
Biography Civil War and Reconstruction
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