Babies named for Frederick Douglass

American abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Frederick Douglass

Black abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became a renowned orator and author.

Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in 1818, he spent the first twenty years of his life enslaved in Maryland. He managed to teach himself to read and write during this time.

“In 1838, he fled north and changed his name to Frederick Douglass” in order to elude slave-hunters. (His new surname was chosen by a friend who’d been reading The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott.)

Douglass began giving speeches about his life as a slave, and in 1845 published his first (and most famous) autobiography: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. According to one source, “Frederick Douglass was the most prominent black man in the United States” by the time of the Civil War.

Going by what I was able to find in the records, dozens of baby boys were named after Frederick Douglass during his lifetime. Some examples…

One of his later namesakes was Douglas Wilder (b. 1931), the first African-American to be elected governor of a U.S. state (Virginia).

Sources: Frederick Douglass – Wikipedia, Frederick Douglass – White House Historical Association, Frederick Douglass – American Battlefield Trust,, Find a Grave

Image: Frederick Douglass (c. 1879)

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