Bible brings freedom to famous former slave Frederick Baily was born on a Maryland plantation around Feb. 7, 1817, though no accurate records exist, as he was a slave. He later chose the birth date of Feb. 14, as he remembered his mother calling him her “little valentine.”  He never saw his mother in the daylight, as he was separated from her as an infant. He did not know who his father was. Around 12 years old, his master’s sister-in-law, Sophia Auld, was teaching Frederick the alphabet, despite this being against the law. When her husband found out and immediately forbade it, saying that if slaves could read, they would grow discontent and desire freedom. Frederick Douglass considered this the “first decidedly anti-slavery lecture” he had ever heard, causing him to be determined to read all the more. Douglas wrote in his autobiography of learning to read from neighborhood white children. He would carefully observe the writings of men he worked with. He remembered reading a newspaper only to have it snatched away from him with a scolding. Frederick voraciously read newspapers, books and a publication titled The Columbian Orator. He is noted as saying, “Knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom.” Frederick was hired out to the William Freeland plantation, where he taught other slaves to read the New Testament at a weekly Sunday school. Enthusiasm in learning to read drew more than 40 slaves to attend. Neighboring plantation owners were incensed that their slaves were learning to read, as this made it harder to control them. One Sunday they burst in with clubs and dispersed Frederick’s congregation. Douglass’ owner sent him a “slave-breaker,” who whipped him regularly, nearly breaking him psychologically. After a confrontation, he never tried to beat him again. Frederick’s owner rented him out to caulk ships in a shipyard. In 1837, Frederick fell in love with Anna Murray, a free black in Baltimore. She helped provide him with a sailor’s uniform and some identification papers from a free black seaman, and on Sept. 3, 1838, Frederick escaped by boarding a train to Havre de Grace, Maryland, and from there fled to New York. Frederick and Anna Murray were married eleven days later by a black Presbyterian minister, and they changed their last name from “Baily” to “Douglass” to hide Frederick’s former identity. More