This Day in Black History: Sept. 3, 1838

On Sept. 3 1838, Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery.

(Photo: WikiCommons)

On Sept. 3 1838, abolitionist Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery. Posing as a sailor -- wearing a red shirt, a tarpaulin hat and a black scarf -- Douglass boarded a train bound for Philadelphia.

In a detailed recollection titled My Escape From Slavery, Douglass wrote, “My knowledge of ships and sailor's talk came much to my assistance, for I knew a ship from stem to stern, and from keelson to cross-trees, and could talk sailor like an 'old salt.”

He traveled north by train and boat from Baltimore through Delaware, until he arrived in Philadelphia. There, he boarded a train to New York, where he arrived the following morning.

Two weeks later, he married Anna Murray, a free Black woman whom he had met in Baltimore. The newlyweds then settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where Douglass worked on ships at the docks. 

Douglass became known for his fiery rhetoric and quickly became a leading abolitionist  in the U.S.

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