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Meet Amazing Americans Activists & Reformers Frederick Douglass
Seaman's Protection Certificate.
A seaman's protection certificate from 1854

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Douglass's Escape from Slavery
Along with the other black passengers, Douglass had to show his "free papers"--a document proving he was free and could travel--along with his ticket. Because Douglass was a runaway slave, he didn't have free papers. Instead, he had borrowed what was called a Seaman's Protection Certificate, which proved that a sailor was a citizen of the U.S.

Douglass described his nervousness when the conductor came by to collect tickets and look over papers: "My whole future depended upon the decision of this conductor."

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