Born a slave in Maryland, Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), became the best known Black American leader of the 19th century. The first half of his life, after his escape from slavery in 1838, was spent in the abolition movement. Later he served in a number of positions, including U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. In 1852 , invited to give a speech in Rochester, N.Y., at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Douglass delivered an indictment of a nation celebrating freedom and independence, while keeping slaves.