The determination of Frederick Douglass paid off on his third attempt to escape slavery.
His success in 1838, combined with education he received while a slave (which was prohibited at the time), enabled Douglass to become an important voice in the abolitionist movement and draw high-praise as an author.
Douglass's determination continued after he was freed. He helped push for the end of slavery (put into effect by the 13th Amendment in December 1865) and the start of voting rights for African American men (put into effect by the 15th Amendment in March 1870). He also spoke in favor of women's voting rights, but they weren't realized until the 19th Amendment (ratified in 1920).
"A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it," Douglass was quoted in the New York Tribune on Jan. 14, 1864, as the Civil War extended into its fourth of five years.
After the war, Douglass served as president of the Freedman's Savings Bank and as a diplomat to the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti.
The exact timing of his birthday was unknown, but Douglass later selected Feb. 14 to observe his birthday. He passed away Feb. 20, 1895.