Born into the Maafa (slavery) in Maryland circa 1817, Frederick Douglass went on to become the most influential and distinguished African American of the nineteenth century. As an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, orator and statesman, Douglass dedicated his life to the triumph of freedom over oppression for all Black Americans.
Published shortly after his escape from the Maafa, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave became an immediate bestseller in 1845. It was the first and most successful of three autobiographies that Douglass was to authored. It sold over 30,000 copies and was an international bestseller. It is still the most widely read historical narrative in American history.
A piercing denounciation of the Maafa, The Narrative mobilized masses of people for the abolitionist cause. But The Narrative is also a deeply personal memoir in which Douglass chronicles his childhood years of deprivation and brutality, his efforts to teach himself to read (teaching an enslaved person to read was illegal in the South), and his dangerous flight to freedom in 1838.