Becoming Frederick Douglass

Douglass’s Ideologies, Identity, and Voice


In Douglass’s speech titled “The Free Negro’s Place is in America” in September in Buffalo, NY, Douglass comments on how the slaveholders want to move the free colored people out of the country. This topic was also brought up in the 1851 convention in Albany.

In Frederick Douglass’s speech “An Appeal to Canada,” given by in Toronto, Canada on April 3, 1851, Douglass pled to Canada to help America with the abolishment of slavery in America but did not advocate for colored people to emigrate

Douglass’s May 7, 1851 speech “The American Slave’s Plea to Mankind” disagreed that emigrating from America was a solution to escape slavery. Douglass essentially asks mankind to help the American slave become free and remain free in America. Enslaved persons in 1851 would have been born on American soil, making them Americans.

The Free Negro’s Place is in America: speech delivered at National Convention of Liberty Party, Buffalo, New York, September 18,1851, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, October 2, 1851

  • “The Free Negro’s Place is in America”
  • “An Appeal to Canada”
  • “The American Slave’s Plea to Mankind”
  • “The Free Negro’s Place is in America”


Curators: Dr. Sherita L. Johnson, Associate Professor of English at The University of Southern Mississippi, with Kayla Schreiber, PhD student in English. Created for Dr. Johnson’s undergraduate class ENG 473: Studies in African American Literature—“Frederick Douglass” (Spring 2019)

Further Acknowledgements to the CCP Exhibits team for creating visualizations, editing, and revising this exhibit:

Special thanks to Gale, a Cengage Company and Accessible Archives Inc.® for granting permission for the use of the materials from 19th Century U.S. Newspaper and African American Newspapers: The 19th Century.

The Colored Conventions Project works with teaching partners and their students to create digital content on the rich history of black political organizing in the nineteenth-century. Browse the curriculum and find information on becoming a teaching partner in [CCP in a Box].