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This dramatic autobiography of the early life of an American slave was first published in 1845, when its young author had just achieved his freedom. Douglass's eloquence and powerful principles led him to become the first great African American leader. Douglass's shocking narrative takes the reader into the world of the South's antebellum plantations and reveals the daily terrors he suffered as a slave, shedding invaluable light on one of the most unjust periods in the history of America.