"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are those who want crops without plowing up the ground - they want rain without thunder and lightning." - Frederick Douglass
Born in February, 1818, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery to become the founder and editor of an abolitionist newspaper, and eloquent speaker and a leading reformer. After the Civil War, he held high public office as a U.S. Marhsal for the District of Columbia (1877), Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia (1881) and Consul-General to the Republic of Haiti and Charge d'Affaires for Santo Domingo (1891). The most prominent Afro-American of the 19th century, Douglass has often been called the father of civil rights.
His formative years were spent here in Fells Point, where he lived intermittently from 1826-38 as a slave, teaching himself to read and write. In 1838, Douglass obtained a "seaman's protection" paper from a retired sailor, certifying that the holder was a free American sailor and entitled to all rights under the American flag. With this paper, Douglass made his escape from slavery to New York City.
In his passionate speeches and writings, and as a holder of public office, Douglass was a crusader for human rights, never missing the opportunity to speak or act on behalf of the oppressed. He died on February 20, 1895, following a speech on women's rights.
Once known as "Douglass Row," the houses at 516-524 S. Dallas Street were constructed by Douglass in the 1890's, probably on the foundations of the old Strawberry Alley Methodist Church.