Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Richard Carwardine at Literary Review:

Frederick Douglass – runaway slave, radical activist, brilliant orator and writer, tireless advocate for his race, political office-holder – lays claim to being the most influential African-American of all time. Certainly, no other black American life has been more remarkable or significant, and few other lives, black or white, have lent themselves, as did Douglass’s, to the publication of three separate and bestselling autobiographies, each of them an essential source for a biographer. In his mid-twenties, newly established as an abolitionist celebrity, he wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a dramatic account in simple but vivid prose of his twenty years as a Maryland slave; further autobiographies, published in 1855 and 1881, stylishly recorded his activities as a campaigner for emancipation and racial equality both during the civil war that secured black freedom and in its aftermath, when the halting steps towards black civil rights faltered.

more here.