This Day in History – December 3, 1847

Fredrick Douglass publishes the first issue of his anti-slavery newspaper, the North Star


On this day in 1847, Fredrick Douglass published the first issue of his anti-slavery newspaper, the North Star.

Born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland, Douglass grew up on a plantation. His exact birth year is unknown.

After escaping from slavery at the age of 20, he wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), outlining his experiences during his time as a slave. Shortly after, he released two more autobiographies, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). Today, they are among the highest regarded pieces of literature from the era.

Douglass founded the North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper. For 16 years, he served as an editor, achieving international fame. In thousands of editorials, he shared his views on antislavery policies

In the 1850’s, Douglass became involved with the women’s rights movement. Preaching his own brand of American ideals in a time when slavery and racism were rampant, Douglass directly assisted John Brown’s conspiracy, which led to the 1959 raid on Harpers Ferry.


Defining racism as a “diseased imagination,” Douglass’s speeches provide a powerful, insightful, view of the severity of our country’s battle with

In 1852, Douglass delivered his famous Fourth of July speech. “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine,” he declared. “You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

At the start of the Civil War, in 1861, Douglass worked as a propagandist of the Union causes, recruiting black troops and serving as an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln on two separate occasions. Throughout Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, he traveled extensively to lecture on politics, racial issues, and women’s rights.

In the mid 1870’s, Douglass relocated to Washington, D.C., where he worked diligently as an editor and become president of the Freedman’s Bank. From 1877 to 1886, Douglass served as marshal and recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia.

Douglass died in 1895. Today, he is a symbol of social justice, racial equality, and courage.


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