The Amazing Life of America’s First Full-Time Black Activist

David Ruggles Was a 19th-Century Renaissance Man, Visionary Political Leader, Savvy Street Fighter, and Healer    

After he escaped from slavery in Baltimore in early September 1838, Frederick Bailey was broke, homeless, and scared. As he huddled among barrels in New York City’s Chambers Street dock, the man who later became known as Frederick Douglass worried about slave catchers and rats. Suddenly a large black man wearing a stove pipe hat, spectacles, and a formal jacket and pants emerged and invited Douglass to his home at 36 Lispenard Street, just a few blocks away.

Douglass’ savior was none other than David Ruggles, a free black man …

Frederick Douglass’s Love-Hate Relationship With America

Historian David Blight Tackles the Great Abolitionist's Contradictions and His Enduring Legacy

From his youth, as a slave growing up in antebellum Maryland, Frederick Douglass saw the double-ness of American life. He recognized the gulf between the nation’s enlightened principles and its …

Why Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Loved the Photograph

He Considered It the Most Democratic of Arts and a Crucial Aid in the Quest to End Slavery and Achieve Civil Rights

Suddenly, it seems, the camera has become a potent weapon in what many see as the beginning of a new civil rights movement. It’s become a familiar tale: Increasingly, blacks …