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It was a story made possible by the unswerving loyalty of Anna Murray. It remains one of the few works that focuses on Anna Murray Douglass, in contrast to the hundreds that have been written on Frederick Douglass and his legacy. That neglect is in part due to the paucity of materials available on Anna; she was largely illiterate and left behind few physical traces of her life, whereas Frederick wrote thousands of letters and multiple books.
But without Anna, Frederick may never have achieved such fame for his abolitionism—or even escaped slavery. Frederick and Anna met inwhen he still went by the surname Bailey and she by Murray.
Although she’s often overshadowed by her husband, frederick douglass, anna made his work possible
The daughter of enslaved parents in rural Maryland aroundAnna was the first of her siblings to be born free after her parents were manumitted. She lived with her parents until the age of 17, at which point she headed for Baltimore and found work as a domestic helper. Over the years she managed to earn and save money; the vibrant community of more than 17, free blacks in the Maryland city organized black churches and schools despite repressive laws restricting their freedoms. When she met Frederick—historians disagree on the when and where their acquaintance occurred, but it may have been in attending the same church—she was financially prepared to start a life with him.
But first, he needed freedom.
Who was frederick douglass?
Once there, he sent for Anna and they were married in the home of abolitionist David Ruggles. According to Rosetta, Anna brought nearly everything the couple needed to begin their life together: a feather bed with pillows and linens; dishes with cutlery; and a full trunk of clothing for herself. The two settled into a small home in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and both continued working menial tasks or housekeeping until Anna began having children.
Meanwhile, Frederick was becoming ever more involved in the abolition movement, and before long, he was traveling extensively to give speeches—including a two-year stint in England from to —with Anna left alone to raise and support the family. During that time, she managed to save everything he sent back and used only her own income from mending shoes to support the family. Having the wife act as the family financial planner was common for the period, Fought says.
Frederick also began publication of The North Staran anti-slavery newspaper.
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He was accused of having affairs with both, in part to discredit his work as an abolitionist and in part because of stereotypes of the day about the infidelity of African-American men. You appeared in print when you got married and when you died.
Something had gone wrong in your life you appeared in print at other times. And there were plenty of personal low points in her life as well.
After the fire, Anna and Frederick moved to Washington, D. While Frederick continued his work, Anna continued managing the home, now with occasional help from Rosetta, as well as numerous relatives and grandchildren. She died in after a series of strokes, leaving behind a legacy that few people ever thought to explore.
For Anna, it was a life of working in the background and often being held to unfair standards. But it was also a life of freedom, and numerous children who had the advantage of an education, and who continued coming to her for advice and solace until the end of her life.
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