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[Detail] North Star, June 2, 1848. Edited by Frederick Douglass.

Historical Research Capabilities: Frederick Douglass and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Frederick Douglass championed the women’s movement and was present at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 that issued the famous “Declaration of Sentiments.”  Search the collection using the keyword woman suffrage to locate speeches and articles by Douglass and others, including the abolitionist Wendell Phillips.  In a time line, chart the woman suffrage movement, highlighting Douglass’ efforts to promote gender equality.  Conduct research to determine whether leaders in the suffrage movement contributed to abolitionism.  Why do you think these two causes were so closely linked?

Historical Research Capabilities: The Civil Rights Bill of 1875

During the closing days of Reconstruction, John R. Lynch, an African American, served as a Republican representative from Mississippi.  Read John R. Lynch’s speech in the House of Representatives in which he supported passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1875. Although the bill passed, ten years later the Supreme Court, in an 8-to-1 decision, declared provisions of the act unconstitutional. Research the Supreme Court’s decision in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883.  Read Frederick Douglass’ speech at a rally held in opposition to the court’s decision at Lincoln Hall on October 22, 1883.

  • What was the basis of Congressman Lynch’s arguments on the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Bill?
  • Why did the majority of the court rule sections of the Civil Rights Law unconstitutional?
  • How did Douglass characterize the court’s decision? 

How did the court’s decision in the Civil Rights Cases, along with previous decisions, make ineffective the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of individual rights?