Frederick Douglass: 2015 Archives
ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASKS FORMER SLAVE FREDERICK DOUGLASS WHAT HE THOUGHT OF HIS SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS, MARCH 4, 1865.
President Lincoln has just been sworn in for his second term. There was a public reception at the White House to which former slave and well-known abolition activist, lecturer and writer Frederick Douglass invited himself. He had been stopped at the door because he was a negro, but talked his way inside and entered the large reception room filled with people (white people). He had met with the president several times before and had been very active in recruiting blacks to fight for the Union, so Lincoln knew him well.
Here's the scene:
Douglass was born in February (doesn't know the date) 1818 and lived as a slave in Maryland until his early 20s, when he escaped and made his way to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he got a job working in a boatyard, doing similar work to what he had done for a time in Baltimore.
As a boy he had taught himself to read, something he kept secret, because it was forbidden for slaves to be educated. And he listened.
After arriving in New Bedford, he spoke and wrote so well that many doubted he could ever have been a slave.
It wasn't long before the abolitionists of Boston heard of him and enlisted him in the cause. William Lloyd Garrison as publisher of abolitionist newspaper "The Liberator" since 1830 was in the forefront. Before long Douglass was on the road throughout New England and New York, giving first hand accounts of the sufferings and horrors of slavery.
He became a publisher of an anti-slavery newspaper in his own right after he settled in his new home in Rochester, New York (far enough away from Boston so as not to clash with Garrison and "The Liberator").
His life was devoted to the elimination of slavery and whatever he could do he did, speaking and writing and traveling tirelessly. He was there when the Republican Party was formed with its principal goal being putting an end to slavery. He supported the President and recruited blacks for the war effort.
So it was a long journey indeed for the slavery-born Douglass: to have the President of the United States publicly call him his friend and say there was no one whose opinion he would rather have than his.
Frederick Douglass lived until 1895.
His is an incredible story of courage, self discipline, initiative, incredible hard work and determination. What an example for all young people today.
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