America’s great orator, abolitionist and social reformer, Frederick Douglass, was born a slave in Talbot Country in 1818. Never really knowing his mother, he left his owner’s farm to work for a young student in Baltimore. From a master’s wife, he learned the alphabet but was quickly forbidden to read. Nevertheless, he learned by asking anyone nearby what the words on a sign said. Later, Douglass was transferred to another owner and sent to Mount Misery (where the Rumsfeld and Cheney families have houses) in St. Michaels to be whipped repeatedly and was almost broken. He challenged the slave-breaker to a personal fight — fisticuffs — and won. He escaped to freedom in 1838 and grew to be one of the most influential Americans of the 19th century. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1895. His home in Anacostia is maintained by the National Park Service as a historic site.