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Frederick Douglass Playground

Amsterdam Ave bet. W. 100 St. and W 102 St.


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This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (1817?-1895) was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland. The son of a slave named Harriet Bailey, Frederick spent his early years on Aaron Anthony’s plantation. Following his master’s death, Frederick was sent to Anthony’s son-in-law Hugh Auld, who lived in Baltimore, Maryland. While in Baltimore, Frederick was introduced to reading and writing by other slaves. Although literacy among slaves was illegal, Frederick developed a passion for the written word and educated himself by reading abolitionist literature. In 1834, Auld sold Frederick to a rural farmer in Talbot County, Maryland, who was a notorious “slave-breaker.” After four years of abuse and one unsuccessful escape attempt, Frederick managed to run away to New York City during 1838. Frederick viewed his escape as a rebirth and so changed his last name from Bailey to Douglass.

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