Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland around 1817, the mixed blood son of a slave, Harriet Bailey, and a white father. At about the age of twenty he escaped from slavery and settled in Massachusetts. Having committed his life story to paper, his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas earned him enough money to buy his freedom.
Long before Federal authorities began to look favorably on the use of black soldiers, Douglas advocated their recruitment. Nationally renowned as a champion of black Americans, he met Lincoln several times but gave only qualified support to the president’s racial views.