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Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Primary Source Set

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were both great men who rose from poverty to become advocates for freedom and equality. Although their backgrounds are seemingly different and their meetings brief, their work to end slavery is undeniable. Lincoln, born in 1809 to poor farmers in Kentucky, moved to Illinois, earned a law degree and was elected to state and national-level office. Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland. After Douglass’s escape, he became an ardent abolitionist, publishing his autobiography and a weekly abolitionist newspaper entitled The North Star. These men met three separate times during Lincoln’s presidency to discuss issues such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. When Douglass was turned away from the White House on the day of Lincoln’s Second Inauguration, Lincoln called him back, saying, “There is no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours.” This source set explores each man’s views and work to end slavery.

Additional resources for research

  1. Frederick Douglass Papers, the Library of Congress.

  2. Abraham Lincoln Papers, the Library of Congress.

  3. Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895, Documenting the American South, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  4. Abraham Lincoln, the White House.

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