Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was born into slavery. While still a slave he taught himself—illegally—to read and write. At age twenty he escaped from his master—another illegal act—and made his way to freedom in the North. He became a prolific author and eloquent orator, turning his talents to the abolitionist (anti slavery) cause. Douglass was also outspoken in advocating women’s rights, including the right to vote. He broadcast his views on these and other issues in books, in speeches, and in his newspaper, The North Star—so named because escaped slaves, traveling only by night, used the North (or Polar) Star to guide them to freedom. In the following selection Douglass asks his white audience to imagine, as they celebrate the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence, how a slave must feel on that day. To a slave the ideals celebrated on that day—freedom and independence—ring hollow. Not until slaves gain full freedom will July 4th be a meaningful holiday for every American.