Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
After his successful lecture tour in Great Britain and the publication of his popular first autobiography, Douglass was widely recognized as the most influential African American of his time. He returned to America in 1847, having purchased his freedom with the help of several British abolitionist friends, and moved his family to Rochester, NY. Increasingly militant in his views on slavery, he broke with William Lloyd Garrison and the pacifist Quaker element of the abolitionist movement and devoted his energies to the publication of the abolitionist newspaper The North Star. Distressed by the continued plight of southern blacks and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Douglass became willing to join political parties, harbor fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad, and ally himself with potentially violent radicals in the fight against slavery.