Recognizing Frederick Douglass

I was eager to see the books that won this year’s Pulitzer prizes and am thrilled with the results. (I mean, a book with trees as characters won the prize for fiction!) But I’m most pleased to see that David Blight’s biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom won the Pulitzer for history, because any opportunity to raise the profile of Douglass’s life and legacy is welcome.

A strong advocate for change, a compelling rhetorician, and a champion for civil rights, Frederick Douglass is a figure worth studying time and time again. That Blight’s biography won a Pulitzer is a testament to how Douglass’s works are “being recognized more and more” for the relevance they have to today’s world.

Here at eNotes, we periodically revisit the works of one of the greatest orators and writers in American history and try our best to encourage others to read more about Frederick Douglass as well. (We even did a giveaway not long ago, so keep an eye out for the next one!)

So, if you’re curious about learning more about Frederick Douglass or interested in teaching his works in your classroom, then have a look at the resources we have available for studying this American legend:


An annotated text of Douglass’s essay “Reconstruction.” This essay contains Douglass’s claims for what has gone wrong during American Reconstruction, how “the occasion demands statesmanship,” and his proposal for action. I’ve written about this piece before and always find that Douglass’s incisive comments apply to politics to this day. In addition to the annotated text, we provide a study guide with summary and analysis sections.


An annotated text of Douglass’s speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” This fiery, impassioned speech is one of the most poignant examples of the power of rhetoric, showcasing Douglass’s skills as a compelling orator. In addition to the annotated text, we provide a study guide containing a summary and analysis of the speech’s historical context, literary devices, and rhetorical devices.


A biography of Frederick Douglass, supplemented with analyses and critical essays. While Blight’s biography has been hailed as “the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass” (which we’re obviously willing to concede), our biography page contains useful facts, trivia, and critical essays on the man’s life and legacy.


A study guide for Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Arguably Frederick Douglass’s most-famous work, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a powerful, honest account of his experiences as a slave and his path to freedom. This study guide is complete with a summary, themes, characters, analysis, critical essays, and a reference section, as well as a chapter-by-chapter lesson plan that includes a multiple-choice test, essay portion, and answer key.