Following in His Footsteps - Maryland's Frederick Douglass Driving Tour

2018 is the “Year of Frederick Douglass” in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the famed abolitionist, writer, and orator.

Central Maryland
Eastern Shore
Discover the real Frederick Douglass in the places that shaped him on a driving tour that starts on the Eastern Shore and takes you through Annapolis and Baltimore.

Places along the way

2018 is the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass's birth.

Born on a farm on the banks of the Tuckahoe Creek, Frederick Douglass’s life would forever be interwoven with his home state of Maryland. That same beautiful place that he loved so deeply, was the place where he was stripped of liberty, ripped from his family, and bound by the literal chains of slavery.

In Fells Point in Baltimore, Douglass cunningly watched other children read and taught himself to do the same, absorbing knowledge to feed his powerful mind.  Intellectual curiosity fueled his confidence and determination to find freedom.  While his body remained enslaved, young Frederick Douglass became resolved to liberate every enslaved man, woman and child in the nation.

Explore Frederick Douglass's story in Maryland through the following tours, events and Douglass biography.

Bicentennial Events Tour Itinerary Biography
Driving Tour Map Douglass Tours Timeline

 

Frederick Douglass’s Beloved Birthplace and Triumphant Homecoming on the Eastern Shore

 “I am an Eastern Shoreman, with all that name implies. Eastern Shore corn and Eastern Shore pork gave me my muscle. I love Maryland and the Eastern Shore!”
–Frederick Douglass

Begin your journey on the Eastern Shore at The Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe near Holme Hill Farm where Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born. Visit Easton and the former Talbot County Jail where Douglass was once imprisoned after a failed attempt to escape to freedom; and the Frederick Douglass Statue at the Talbot County Courthouse, the site of his famous 1878 “Self-Made Men” speech. And explore “The Hill,” a historic African-American neighborhood where Douglass spoke at the Bethel A.M.E. Church and Asbury United Methodist Church

Drive west on MD 33 to the town of St. Michaels. When he was just 15 years old, Douglass started a Sunday school here where he secretly taught enslaved people to read. Stay at the Dr. Dodson House Bed and Breakfast, once the home of Louisa Bruff, his former master Thomas Auld’s daughter, and where Douglass was later welcomed as an honored guest.

Head to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum where you’ll find the Mitchell House, home of Douglass’s sister Eliza Bailey Mitchell and her family. The site provides a view of the lifestyle of middle-class free African Americans in the 19th century.  And visit the St. Michaels Museum at St. Mary's Square, which hosts a Frederick Douglass Walking Tour on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month from May through October. 

Just west of St. Michaels, visit the Inn at Perry Cabin, once home of the Hambleton family who freed their slaves prior to the Civil War and offered free blacks a chance to rent land and build homes. Continue west on MD 33 to Tilghman Island, a maritime village with sweeping scenic views of the Chesapeake Bay. Along the way, you’ll pass the site of the former Covey Farm, where the infamous slave-breaker Edward Covey tried, and failed, to break Douglass’s mighty spirit. 

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Frederick Douglass Park – St. Michaels.

Photo By: Clark Vandergrift, OTD

Frederick Douglass in Annapolis: Personal Visit and Inspirational Orator

Tour the Maryland State House  to see the painting of Gen. George Washington resigning his commission. In June of 1874, Douglass recited Washington’s resignation speech from memory in the Senate Chamber, lending it all of his exceptional oratorical power. Experience Frederick Douglass’s remarkable legacy at the nearby Banneker-Douglass Museum, Maryland’s repository of African-American history and culture, in the former Mount Moriah African-American Methodist Episcopal Church.

Frederick Douglass in Baltimore: Freedom’s Foundation and Self Liberation

Walk the streets of the Fells Point National Historic District. Now home to boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and pubs, Fells Point was a bustling port when Douglass was sent to live here as a boy of just 8 years. Visit Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, which chronicles the saga of Frederick Douglass’s life in Baltimore, where he taught himself to read, developed a trade as a ship caulker, met his wife, and eventually escaped to freedom.

Explore Douglass Row, where in 1892, he constructed five brick rowhomes as rental properties for African Americans. Visit the nearby President Street Station, which now houses the Baltimore Civil War Museum. Here is where Douglass escaped slavery in 1838 at age twenty by disguising himself and boarding a train heading to Philadelphia.

Just up the street, you’ll find the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. Nearby, experience the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum with 100 life-size wax figures, and see the Frederick Douglass Statue at Morgan State University.

Frederick Douglass In And Around The Nation’s Capital – Tireless Struggle and Inclusive Vision

Start your visit at the University of Maryland College Park’s Frederick Douglass Square and Statue and the Hornbake Library, home to the "Frederick Douglass: Scholarship and Legacy" exhibit. A short drive away, tour the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and travel to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Related Content

Visitors are encouraged to share their “Year of Frederick Douglass” on social media using the hashtag #FrederickDouglass.

Banneker-Douglass Museum located in the former Mt. Moriah A.M.E Church, Annapolis

Maryland Lore

Frederick Douglass’s given name at birth was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. He changed his name to Frederick Douglass after he escaped in 1838 to disguise himself and prevent capture.

Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park is an educational and national heritage site that highlights African-American maritime history.

Trails in this Region

Chesapeake Wine Trail
Maryland Crab & Oyster Trail: Greater Baltimore Area