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The son of a slave woman and an unknown white man, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey" is believed to have been born in February of 1818 on Maryland’s eastern shore.  As he noted on the opening page of his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself,  "I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it."  He chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14.

A slave for much of his young life, he formally changed his name to Frederick Douglass when he escaped to New York in 1838.

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