Frederick & Abraham: The Abolitionist meets the President

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

On March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln finished his second inaugural addresses with this statement: "With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations" (Lincoln, 1865).

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Circumstances and events before an individual’s birth may define that person’s life. In most cases, no person can predict what will become of them, their contributions, legacy or ultimate fate. Some of the most extraordinary people in history were not born of royalty, nobility, or the aristocracy. They were also not born into fame or into a high-profile family. On one hand, some of their lives that they were born into, their formative years and experiences led them to do what they did that may have been exceptional and extraordinary. On the other hand, some use their lives and what they inherited at birth, learned and experienced to do disastrous things for themselves, others and society. Many would argue that Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln are the former. Both men were born into very different lives in the sense that one was born into slavery and the other into obscurity. One had to suffer, lose his family, educate himself and risk his life to fight for his cause. The other had to also educate himself for the most part, get elected to political office, go against slavery and assassinated for his cause.


These were extraordinary men in extraordinary times. They met on three occasions and while their views on the premise and outcomes may have been different, they came to respect one another and work together. Today, their memories are alive for changing the course of the United States.

This article will give a glimpse of their lives and some events leading up to the Civil War and then account their three meetings from Frederick Douglass’ own words and perspective.

Birth

To this day, the date of Frederick Douglass’ birth is unknown. He has the adopted birthdate of February 14, 1818. He was born to a black slave woman and an unknown white father in the slave state of Maryland. His given name was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Biography – early life 2017). This man became one of the great leaders of the abolition of slavery (abolitionist) movement in the United States.

On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in the slave state of Kentucky to frontiersmen (Abraham Lincoln 2021). He would become the 16th President of the United States in one of the most crucial periods of the nation’s history.

Formative Years and Young Adulthood

Frederick's grandmother raised him in Maryland. He grew up with 12 other children including siblings and cousins. His mother could read and write, was young and able bodied. Much like women in similar circumstances to hers at the time, she worked in the fields by force and her location was at a great distance from her children. She would see her children, including Frederick only a few times from the time Frederick was born and until her death in 1825. Frederick recounts, “I do not recollect of ever seeing my mother by the light of day. She was with me in the night. She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone. Very little communication ever took place between us. Death soon ended what little we could have while she lived, and with it her hardships and suffering. She died when I was about seven years old, on one of my master's farms, near Lee's Mill” (Douglass, 1845).

With his siblings, cousins and grandmother, Frederick lived on the Lloyd Plantation in Maryland. He suffered from the extreme heat, cold and hunger. At the age of seven, He ate corn meal out of a trough, had little clothing and no bed. Also at a very young age, Frederick separated from his grandmother and the rest of his family to go to the Auld Estate in Baltimore (Douglass, 1845). Soon after he arrived at the Auld Estate, Frederick was about to go through yet another one of slavery’s disastrous realities. After his instruction on reading and writing by the noble efforts of Sophia Auld, the family stopped teaching him because Hugh Auld determined that teaching slaves was not legal. Worse yet, he deemed teaching slaves to read as dangerous. Frederick knew this because he heard the Aulds arguing about Hugh Auld’s decision to stop teaching him. These arguments did not deter Frederick. In fact, he became determined to learn as much as he could. Because of this mere argument, Frederick understood the power that controlled him and his brothers and sisters in slavery. Frederick’s revelation was the key to keeping slavery alive was not permitting slaves with the benefit of knowledge. The prevention of learning and knowledge was systematically in place to prevent slaves from becoming free (Warnick, 2008). Sophia Auld gave Frederick enough information to make him realize the value of learning, reading and all that goes along with obtaining knowledge. In his words, Frederick’s realization was “that which to [Hugh Auld] was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn” (Douglass, 1845).

Frederick went on to learn how to read despite Hugh Auld’s directive. He would go to the streets of Baltimore and trade bits of food for lessons on reading. He also studied the Bible, which had an effect on his gaining literacy (Gopnik & Mallon, 2018). Frederick would go on to read books, such as “The Columbian Orator” or speeches related to Catholic emancipation. The more he read, the more he understood the horrors and evils of slavery. Reading, knowledge and understanding made him “abhor and detest [his] enslavers” (Douglass, 1845).


In 1838, Frederick, at around the age of 20, began his pathway to freedom. While living in Baltimore, he had to obtain papers from a freed slave. In other words, because Frederick was not a freed slave, he had to get papers from a freed slave who was similar in identity. This initiative was very dangerous for both the freed slaves and for the slave, Frederick Douglass. A sailor friend of Frederick’s vouched for him and found ways to avoid Frederick giving up too much of his identity that would cause the authorities to figure out that the papers he possessed were not his own. Frederick also arranged for a ticket and placement of his bags on a train to Philadelphia, again, without his direct involvement that would result in scrutiny of his true identity. He also experienced a stroke of luck on the train when the conductor did not closely scrutinize his freed slave status papers. Frederick safely and without revealing his identity, reached the slave free state of Pennsylvania and then New York on September 3, 1838 (Escape from Slavery, 1838 1999).

Similar to Frederick, Abraham also moved at the age of 7. Unlike Frederick, he moved with his family to Indiana and not to the estate of a slave owner without family. The reason for Abraham’s move was partly due to property titles. In Kentucky, property titles were not clearly defined, and Thomas Lincoln (Abraham’s father) was facing lawsuits over his property lines. Indiana’s title laws were much clearer and more defined in terms of surveying. Another significant reason why they moved to Indiana was because that state was a slave free state. Thomas Lincoln believed that slavery was morally unacceptable and desired to leave the slave state of Kentucky (Early Life n.d.).

Another similarity to Frederick was that Abraham also lost his mother at a very young age. Nancy Hanks Lincoln died of brucellosis on October 5, 1818 from drinking infected cow's milk. Abraham was 9 years old (Early Life n.d.). Abraham told his biographer, William Herndon, “God bless my mother; all that I am or ever hope to be I owe to her” (Brockell, 2020). There is not much information about Abraham’s mother. It also is worth noting that Abraham’s personality throughout life was one of melancholy, which Abraham learned or inherited from his mother. Following the death of his mother, Abraham and his only surviving sibling, Sarah, would tend to the house. It always seemed that even though Abraham lost his mother at a very young age, she had a profound influence on his life. Many years later, in a letter to a child who lost a parent, Abraham wrote: “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony; because it takes them unawares … I have had experience enough to know what I say” (Brockell, 2020).

Abraham was mostly self-educated, though he had some formal schooling at a young age where he would do some reading and spelling. Unlike many of our past presidents who graduated from Ivy League schools and law schools, Abraham did not. He did, however, do a significant amount of reading. The more he read, the more he wanted to know. Herndon explains, “his chief delight during the day, if unmolested, was to lie down under the shade of some inviting tree to read and study” (Herndon, 1888). Eventually, Abraham studied law books, challenged the bar exam and practiced law for his career, given that “the study of the statutes at this early day led Abe to think of the law as his calling in maturer years” (Herndon, 1888).

Prior to starting his occupation as a lawyer, the Lincoln family moved to Illinois or “The Land of Lincoln” as we know it today. The year was 1830 and similar to Frederick, Abraham was at the age of 21 and also moving north (Herndon, 1888). Unlike Frederick, he once again moved with his family freely and was under no pressure to escape anything or risk his life. Much like Frederick, the move north by Abraham was the start of his career that would change the course of history in the United States. For Frederick, his move to the north started when he determined to end slavery in the United States.

The Movement to End Slavery

The abolitionist movement in what would later become the United States commenced with the Quakers in 1688. They formally founded the first American Abolition Society in 1775 (Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist movement 2017). Throughout the years leading up to the Civil War, there were actions and movements, particularly by religious communities in the northern United States and by some state governments and very limited activity by the national government to limit slavery. None of these movements or initiatives fully abolished slavery. As time went on in the early part of the 19th century, the anti-slavery movement found life in the public forum. William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist, published The Liberator, which was a weekly publication in Massachusetts dedicated to anti-slavery (Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist movement 2017).

Frederick was in Massachusetts and joined the Anti-Slavery Society in 1841. In essence, he was in a public speaking and outreach role for the Society. Frederick would go throughout the country giving speeches and obtaining subscribers for The Liberator (Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist movement 2017). He spoke about his role in this movement by saying “I had not long been a reader of the ‘Liberator,’ before I got a pretty correct idea of the principles, measures and spirit of the anti-slavery reform. I took right hold of the cause. I could do but little; but what I could, I did with a joyful heart, and never felt happier than when in an anti-slavery meeting” (Douglass, 1845).

In the mid-19th century, anti-slavery and abolitionist movements became platforms in political parties that were forming. The staunch abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison would argue that abolitionist movements becoming part of political party platforms would degrade the movement's true meaning, goals and become politicized in efforts to obtain votes. The Liberty Party rose in a few states, such as New York and Ohio to run candidates for local and national offices on the anti-slavery platform. However, the problem for the abolitionists was that anti-slavery movements did not go far enough. For example, abolitionists were simply for that, the complete abolition of slavery in the United States. Anti-slavery movements would do things to limit or expand slavery on new frontiers in the United States but stop short of total abolition throughout the country (Abolitionism and Political Mobilization 2014).

While there were forces to limit or end slavery altogether, there were also political forces to expand it in the mid-19th century. In 1854, a United States Senator named Stephen Douglas (Democrat from Illinois) sponsored the “Nebraska Bill'' or what would later become known as the Kansas-Nebraska Act. As the United States grew and extended westward to the Pacific Ocean, the desire for commerce came to fruition, which resulted in the need for transportation. The goal of Senator Douglas was to expand transportation from the City of Chicago in his home state and through the Nebraska territories, which did not permit slavery as a result of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Southern states, where slavery still existed, wanted the east-west transportation lines through their states. This issue created a problem for Senator Douglas as he needed support from senators in the southern states. What Senator Douglas probably did not expect was that this bill became an issue of slavery and not transportation. In exchange for their support of transportation through the Nebraska Territory, southern states demanded the dissolution of state lines for slavery, which would in effect reverse the Missouri Compromise. Senator Douglas went along with the demands of the southern senators. Through the bill, he separated the area in question into two territories called Nebraska and Kansas. He also permitted each territory to determine whether or not they wanted slavery. This self determination was called "popular sovereignty." The bill passed the vote and became law in 1854 (The Kansas-Nebraska Act 2019).

Similar to his father Thomas, Abraham also opposed slavery. He witnessed one of the many horrors of slavery in New Orleans when he saw slaves scourged and beaten. Abraham made the comment “‘By God, boys, let's get away from this. If ever I get a chance to hit that thing [meaning slavery], I'll hit it hard’" (Herndon, 1888). In 1854, he found an opportunity to raise his objections to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and to slavery in general, as a political platform for public office. While Lincoln took a moral stance to slavery and acknowledged humanity in his speeches, as well as opposing the extension of slavery, at this time he was not necessarily opposed to completely ending slavery throughout the United States (Monroe, n.d.). Abraham eventually became a member of the Illinois State Legislature. Several groups either formed or became fractioned following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. These included members of the Democrat Party, the Whig Party (which fell apart after Whig candidate Winfield Scott lost to Democrat candidate Franklin Pierce for the President of the United States), a new group called the Know Nothings, and a group that leaned more abolitionist called the Republican Party. Abraham led an effort to consolidate the groups and create a platform of limiting the extension of slavery (Monroe, n.d.). This idea would be a reversal of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and more in line with the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

As previously discussed, R.D. Monroe contends that Abraham was not an abolitionist and only went as far as supporting the non-extension of slavery. By contrast, Abraham’s biographer William Herndon thpught otherwise, given the records of the Illinois State Legislature from March 3, 1837 (response and protest to a resolution on domestic slavery), which stated:

"Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.

They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.

They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power under the Constitution to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.

They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power under the Constitution to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, but that the power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the people of the District. The difference between these opinions and, those contained in the above resolutions is their reason for entering this protest.

Dan Stone,

A. Lincoln,

Representatives from the county of Sangamon" (Herndon, 1888).

Herndon goes on to say that “this document so adroitly drawn and worded, this protest pruned of any offensive allusions, and cautiously framed so as to suit the temper of the times, stripped of its verbal foliage reveals in naked grandeur the solemn truth that ‘the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy’ [as stated by Abraham Lincoln]” (Herndon, 1888).

While Abraham’s political career was on the move and the new Republican Party was molding into a major political party in the United States, Frederick was very active with giving speeches against slavery in Ireland and Great Britain. He returned to the United States and in 1847, he started an abolitionist newspaper in Rochester, New York called The North Star. The goal of the periodical was to spread the cause for freedom of slaves throughout the world, which was a revolutionary idea in 1847. Frederick stated that “a revolution now cannot be confined to the place or the people where it may commence, but flashes with lightning speed from heart to heart, from land to land, till it has traversed the globe, compelling all the members of our common brotherhood at once, to pass judgment upon its merits” (Georgini, 2019).

Some of the ingredients were now in place to once and for all abolish and end slavery throughout the United States. These included the political movement to limit slavery, and the abolitionist movement led by Frederick, his media outlet and others, such as those led by William LloydGarrison. Just as these ideas were forming, there were other forces that were pushing up against any limit to slavery, let alone an end to it. In addition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, there was also the disastrous Dred Scott v. Sandford decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1857. This decision ruled that African Americans, whether freed or slaves, were not American citizens and did not have a right to sue in federal court. It also determined that the Missouri Compromise to limit the expansion of slavery was unconstitutional (History.com Editors, 2009).

Despite the forces working against abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, he would use what he experienced married up to the knowledge he acquired on his own for the purpose to once and for all abolish slavery. While Frederick was marching on in his cause, Abraham would go on to lose elections to the United States Senate, including a loss in 1858 for the seat held by Senator Stephen Douglas. In a turn of events, Abraham would go on to win the Presidential Election of 1860 as a Republican candidate. The inauguration of Abraham Lincoln took place on March 4, 1861. Thirty-nine days later, on April 12, 1861, Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. The Civil War between the Union states of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America commenced.

Frederick and Abraham Meet for the First Time


Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln would meet three times: once in 1863, during the 1864 Presidential campaign and finally on March 4, 1865, following Abraham’s second inaugural address. Frederick’s attitude toward Abraham would go from tenuous to respected as time went on. He was skeptical that Abraham and the Republican Party could root out slavery in the United States. In an article after the 1860 election, he contended that “Mr. Lincoln… while admitting the right to hold men as slaves in the States already existing, regards such property as peculiar, exceptional, local, generally an evil, and not to be extended beyond the limits of the States where it is established by what is called positive law. Whoever live through the next four years will see Mr. Lincoln and his Administration attacked more bitterly for their pro-slavery truckling, than for doing any anti-slavery work” (Douglass, 1860).

The United States was in the thick of the war in 1863. Some of the most crucial battles that year included Gettysburg and Vicksburg. 1863 was also the year for the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and following that, Abraham called for black men to enlist to fight for the Union cause. Frederick supported this and started to recruit black men to fight for the Union (Brown, 2020). As more and more black men joined the ranks of the Union forces, it became quite evident to Frederick that they were mistreated and abused. This infuriated Frederick. On August 1, 1863, Frederick wrote to Major George L. Stearns who was instrumental in recruiting black men to the Union forces in Massachusetts. Frederick stated in part:

"Various occasions have arisen during the last six months for the exercise of his power in behalf of the coloured men in his service, But no word comes to us from the War Department, sternly assuring the rebel chief that inquisition shall yet be made for innocent blood. No word of retaliation when a black man is slain by a rebel in cold blood. No word was said when free men from Massachusetts were caught and sold into slavery in Texas. No word is said when brave black men who, according to the testimony of both friend and foe, fought like heroes to plant the star-spangled banner on the blazing parapets of Fort Wagner, and in doing so were captured, some mutilated and killed, and others sold into slavery. The same crushing silence reigns over this scandalous outrage as over that of the slaughtered teamsters at Murfreesboro; the same as over that at Milliken’s Bend and Vicksburg. I am free to say, my dear sir, that the case looks as if the confiding coloured soldiers had been betrayed into bloody hands by the Government in whose defence they were heroically fighting" (Douglass, 1882).

In addition to letters, such as those to Major Stearns and speeches on the subject, Frederick took his steadfast determination for justice for enlisted black men in the Union Army to the White House in late August 1863. He did not contact the White House in advance, and he did not make an appointment. He walked right into the famous structure on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to discuss his great concerns about black soldiers with the President of the United States. Frederick had no idea if he would even enter the White House, let alone received for a meeting with the President. Frederick first met with a few senators, members of the Cabinet, including Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Chase and Secretary of War, William Seward, among other officials (Douglass, 1882). Following this meeting, Frederick and Abraham met for the first time. Frederick writes his account of the introduction:

"As I approached and was introduced to him, he rose and extended his hand, and bade me welcome. I at once felt myself in the presence of an honest man—one whom I could love, honour, and trust without reserve or doubt. Proceeding to tell him who I was, and what I was doing, he promptly, but kindly, stopped me, saying: “I know who you are, Mr. Douglass; Mr. Seward has told me all about you. Sit down. I am glad to see you” (Douglass, 1882).

Frederick went on to tell Abraham the details of his concerns with the treatment of the black soldiers. Frederick noted that the President intently listened to him and had a look of trouble on his face. The issues that Frederick brought up were first, the unequal wages to that of white soldiers; second, that not enough was being done for protection of the black soldiers for exchanges when taken prisoner or retaliation for the execution of black soldiers by the Confederacy; and third, proper rewards for valor. The responses were not fully satisfactory in the mind of Frederick. On the first point, the President stated that the fact of the enlistment of black soldiers was a feat in and of itself because of all those opposed to this idea. He went on to say that they would not receive the same pay as white soldiers at this time, but eventually would. With respect to retaliation, the President contended that this issue was very difficult. He was not sure where retaliation would lead and that the Confederate soldiers were carrying out crimes by others (he was likely speaking of the leaders of the Confederacy). He did convey to Frederick that he saw more and more black soldiers taken as prisoners of war as opposed to execution. While still not ideal, Abraham saw this as a step in the right direction. Abraham also thought that if he did not retaliate, the Confederate soldiers would back off on the killings and other unspeakable types of warfare. On the third issue, the President told Frederick that if the Secretary of War sent commissions to him for black soldiers, then he would sign them. Frederick was not very happy with the responses by Abraham, but he “was so well satisfied with the man and with the educating tendency of the conflict, that [he] determined to go on with the recruiting” (Douglass, 1882).


The Second Meeting


The election of 1864 was very hotly contested. George B. McClellan (Democrat from New Jersey and former general under Abraham Lincoln) challenged the President for his office. The country was weary of the ongoing Civil War and McClellan’s platform was immediate peace, while permitting the Confederate States of America to be a separate country (Lincoln and Douglass Shared Uncommon Bond 2009).

Frederick thought that McClellan was a failure as a commander during the war and would continue to be a disaster as President. He also contended that the reelection of Abraham Lincoln would be the surest way to end slavery in the United States (Douglass, 1882).

The White House invited Frederick to meet with Abraham and paid for his trip from his home in Rochester, New York to Washington, D.C. Upon meeting with Frederick, the President expressed his fear of losing to his opponent. The purpose of the meeting was Abraham trying to persuade Frederick to go into the southern slave states with a group and try to bring as many black men back to the north as possible. These men from the south would create an alliance to reelect Abraham. The President also suggested that whether or not he won the election, then these men who escaped with Frederick would now be free in the north. Following the two-hour meeting, Frederick walked away with a feeling that Abraham really hated slavery (Lincoln and Douglass Shared Uncommon Bond 2009). Frederick said of Abraham: “What he said on this day showed a deeper moral conviction against slavery than I had even seen before in anything spoken or written by him” (Douglass, 1882).


The Final Meeting


On March 4, 1865, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln would meet for the final time. Frederick said of this day, in comparison with the first inauguration in 1861: “There was murder in the air then, and there was murder in the air now. His first inauguration arrested the fall of the Republic, and the second was to restore it to enduring foundations” (Douglass, 1882). Frederick commented on the President’s second inaugural address that:

"I know not how many times, and before how many people I have quoted these solemn words of our martyred President; they struck me at the time and have seemed to me ever since to contain more vital substance than I have ever seen compressed into a space so narrow; yet on this memorable occasion when I clapped my hands in gladness and thanksgiving at their utterance, I saw in the faces of many about me expressions of widely different emotion." Frederick went on to comment on Lincoln’s appearance as “the face of the one was full of manly humility, although at the topmost height of power and pride” (Douglass, 1882).

The ever-persistent Frederick Douglass did something else few black men had every thought of at the time or did. Frederick Douglass wanted to meet with Abraham Lincoln after his second inaugural address. Frederick ensured that this meeting happened. Upon approaching the doorway to the White House reception, two police officers stopped Frederick. They grabbed him by the arm and told him to stand back. The police officers assured Frederick that their orders were to not to let any black men into the reception. Frederick disagreed that such orders would come from the President. The police officers escorted him in, but it was a trick as they led him down a corridor that would exit out of the White House. Frederick caught on to this and upon recognizing an official he knew, requested to see the President. The official escorted Frederick to the East Room, where the reception was ongoing. Upon Frederick’s approach to this room, Abraham saw Frederick. Frederick noted how the President looked at that moment and said:

"Recognising me, even before I reached him, he exclaimed, so that all around could hear him, 'Here comes my friend Douglass.' Taking me by the hand, he said, 'I am glad to see you. I saw you in the crowd to-day, listening to my inaugural address; how did you like it?' I said, 'Mr. Lincoln, I must not detain you with my poor opinion, when there are thousands waiting to shake hands with you.' 'No, no,' he said, 'you must stop a little, Douglass; there is no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours. I want to know what you think of it?' I replied, 'Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.' 'I am glad you liked it!' he said, and I passed on, feeling that any man, however distinguished, might well regard himself honoured by such expressions, from such a man" (Douglass, 1882).

Death


Forty-one days following his second inaugural address, John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln and he died the next day, on April 15, 1865 in Washington, D.C. (Abraham Lincoln 2021).

Frederick Douglass continued to fight for civil rights for former slaves and for the Women’s Rights Movement. He went on to government work as Assistant Secretary to the Santo Domingo (present day Dominican Republic) Commission and work in Washington, D.C. He also became the U.S. Minister and Consul General to Haiti. He died of a massive heart attack on February 20, 1895 in Washington, D.C. (Frederick Douglass 2021).

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Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln had some similarities, but also very distinct differences in terms of their views on ending slavery. Frederick’s own horrific experiences as a slave led to his heroic ambitions and actions. He was determined to learn, despite the terrible repercussions of obtaining knowledge or learning new things as a slave. Frederick was also determined to escape slavery by risking his own life and that of another and to then use his energy and efforts to rid the world of the evils and treachery of slavery. We are very fortunate today to know and understand Frederick’s thoughts and motivations as he wrote three very detailed autobiographies. Unfortunately, we do not have that same first-hand information from Abraham Lincoln. Many in the present and future will remember his speeches and some writings, but there is nothing in terms of a thorough autobiography. It seems that Abraham was motivated by his views that he shared with his father and from the horrors of slavery that he witnessed in New Orleans. We also know that he vehemently disagreed with those who either wanted to slow the abolitionist movement or even re-expand slavery. While it may seem that Abraham's political views or realizations at the time led him to think that slavery could only be limited (not abolished), in the end, slavery was abolished in the United States following the Union victory. As such, history judges Abraham mostly by those who wrote or continue to write about him. Through Frederick Douglass' own writings, it is clear that he held skeptical views of Abraham Lincoln. However, as he saw, heard and spoke to Abraham, he came to admire him and vice versa. There was also a drive for both to work together for a common and worthy cause, which was the most important cause at the time and arguably, in the history of the United States. We will never know how these two men could have continued to work together and the feats they could have acoomplished if Abraham Lincoln had lived throughout Reconstruction and continued to “strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds” (Lincoln, 1865).


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