He was born as a slave in 1818 in a small town in Maryland. It is believed that his father was white, while his mother was black. Frederick Douglass did not know his father and his mother died when he was just nine years old. Frederick Douglass was beaten regularly through his teen years by his captors. He escaped slavery when he was 20 years old by boarding a train and heading to New Bedford, Massachusetts. As a free man, Douglass joined several groups, such as an anti-slavery society. He also published newspapers. Frederick Douglass became so prominent that he met with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson to discuss the plight of blacks.