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Collection Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

1860 to 1876

  • 1860


    Daughter Annie dies in Rochester.


    Returns to the United States and is not charged in the John Brown raid.


    Abraham Lincoln is elected president.


    South Carolina secedes from the Union.

    Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 1863.
    Photographic print by Alexander Gardner. Presidential File, Meserve Collection No. 59.
    Prints and Photographs Division,
    Library of Congress.
    Reproduction Number:
  • 1861

    The Civil War begins.

  • 1862

    Congress abolishes slavery in Washington, D.C.

  • 1863

    Jan. 1

    Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation takes effect, abolishing slavery in the states that are "in rebellion."


    Douglass becomes a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first regiment of African-American soldiers; his sons Lewis and Charles join the regiment. Eventually his son Frederick Douglass Jr. becomes an army recruiter also. About 180,000 African Americans serve in the Civil War on the Union side.

    August 10

    Meets with President Lincoln to discuss the unequal pay and poor treatment black soldiers receive.

  • 1864

    August 19

    Meets with Lincoln again. In case the war is not a total Union victory, Lincoln asks Douglass to prepare an effort to assist slaves escaping to the North.

  • 1865

    April 14

    Lincoln is assassinated.

    December 18

    The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery, is ratified.

    The Martyr of liberty...
    [n. p., n. d.] (Library of Congress, Stern Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division.)
  • 1865-95

    Douglass lectures on Reconstruction and women's rights.

  • 1870

    Edits and then owns the New National Era, a weekly newspaper for African Americans. He loses ten thousand dollars when the paper folds in 1874.

    Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution adopted. This amendment states that the rights of citizens to vote cannot be denied "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

  • 1871

    President Ulysses S. Grant appoints Douglass to the commission investigating the possibility of annexing the Dominican Republic to the U.S.

  • 1872

    The Equal Rights Party nominates Douglass for vice-president of the United States on a ticket headed by Victoria C. Woodhull.

    Douglass moves his family to Washington, D.C., after a mysterious fire destroys his home in Rochester. He attributes the fire to arson.

  • 1874


    Becomes president of the troubled Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company. Works with the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to save the bank, which ultimately fails.

  • 1875


    Congress passes a Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in public places.

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