Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Brief Synopsis Of Frederick Douglass' Contributions To The United States

Biography, Feb 8, 2020  

After escaping slavery, Frederick Douglass became a powerful anti-slavery speaker and author, and ultimately became the first African American to be nominated for Vice President. Find out more about his life in this mini biography. #Biography #FrederickDouglass #BlackHistoryMonth
The video that was originally embedded in this post is no longer available.

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision - July 29, 2023

This is Part I of a three part pancocojams series on Frederick Douglass.

This post presents a brief synopsis of Frederick Douglass' contributions to the United States. 

Click for Part II of this pancocojams series. Part II explores why and how Frederick Douglass is being portrayed on twitter as a contemporary superhero.

Click for Part III of this post. Part III provides examples of tweets from and about a fictionalized Frederick Douglass (from

The content of this pancocojams post is published for historical purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Frederick Douglas for his life's legacy and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the producer of the video that is embedded in this post and its publisher on YouTube.

Documenting United States President Trump and his press secretary Sean Spicers' ambiguous comments about Frederick Douglass and providing a summary about the many accomplishments of that 19th century African American

February 1, 2017: In a televised speech honoring Black History Month, United States President Trump described Frederick Douglass as "someone who has done a terrific job that is being recognized by more and more people, I notice".

When Trump's Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about that comment he said "I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made,” ... “And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”

Both of these comments beg the question "Do Donald Trump and Sean Spicer know who Frederick Douglass is? It’s not really clear." *

*That question is the title of this article: The quotes are also from that article.

Here's a tweet that was quoted in that article:
Touré ✔ @Toure
"Trump says Frederick Douglass is "someone who has done a terrific job.” I doubt he knows who Frederick Douglass was.
10:45 AM - 1 Feb 2017"

That article ends with this comment:
"There’s a bit of good news: The questions surrounding Trump’s bizarre mention of Douglass and Spicer’s own follow-up remarks got “Frederick Douglass” to trend on Twitter on the first day of Black History Month. So that’s something, I guess."

Here are some of the "terrific jobs" that Frederick Douglas had (quoting his Wikipedia page

"Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. February 1818[4] – February 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his dazzling oratory[5] and incisive antislavery writings...

Douglass wrote several autobiographies. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. First published in 1881 and revised in 1892, three years before his death, it covered events during and after the Civil War. Douglass also actively supported women's suffrage, and held several public offices...

Douglass spent two years in Ireland and Britain, where he gave many lectures in churches and chapels. His draw was such that some facilities were "crowded to suffocation". One example was his hugely popular London Reception Speech, which Douglass delivered in May 1846 at Alexander Fletcher's Finsbury Chapel. Douglass remarked that in England he was treated not "as a color, but as a man."[39]...

After returning to the US [in 1848], Douglass started publishing his first abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, from the basement of the Memorial AME Zion Church in Rochester, New York.[44] The The North Star's motto was "Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren." The AME Church and North Star vigorously opposed the mostly white American Colonization Society and its proposal to send blacks back to Africa. This and Douglass's later abolitionist newspapers were mainly funded by English supporters, who gave Douglass five hundred pounds to use as he chose.[3...

By the time of the Civil War, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the country, known for his orations on the condition of the black race and on other issues such as women's rights. His eloquence gathered crowds at every location. His reception by leaders in England and Ireland added to his stature....

After the Civil War, Douglass continued to work for equality for African-Americans and women. Due to his prominence and activism during the war, Douglass received several political appointments. He served as president of the Reconstruction-era Freedman's Savings Bank.[80] Douglass also became chargé d'affaires for the Dominican Republic, but resigned that position after two years because of disagreements with U.S. government policy.[81]

On April 14, 1876, Douglass delivered the keynote speech at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington's Lincoln Park....

The Freedman's Savings Bank went bankrupt in 1874, mere months after Douglass became its president. During that same economic crisis, his final newspaper, The New Era, failed as well. When Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was elected President, Douglass accepted an appointment as United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, which helped assure his family's financial security.[32]...

In 1872, Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States, as Victoria Woodhull's running mate on the Equal Rights Party ticket. He was nominated without his knowledge. Douglass neither campaigned for the ticket nor acknowledged that he had been nominated.[9] In that year, he was presidential elector at large for the State of New York, and took that state's votes to Washington, D.C.[85]...

At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Douglass became the first African American to receive a vote for President of the United States in a major party's roll call vote....

President Harrison appointed Douglass to be the United States's minister resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti and Chargé d'affaires for Santo Domingo in 1889,[98] but Douglass resigned the commission in July 1891.[99] In 1893, Haiti made Douglass a co-commissioner of its pavilion at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.[99]...

Less than a month before his death, when a young black man solicited his advice to an African American just starting out in the world, Douglass replied without hesitation: "Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!"[11]...

From More And More About Frederick Douglass"

Douglass’ accomplishments are still very much alive, not just during Black History Month, but every month.

Robert Benz, 02/01/2017
"As Co-Founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, I’m able to publish, exclusively, the following statement from the direct descendants of Frederick Douglass:

The President’s comments from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, about Frederick Douglass, were noted and appreciated by us, the Douglass family. In fact, we believe, if he had more time to elaborate, the President would have mentioned the following:

“Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job …

* Enduring the inhumanity of slavery after being born heir to anguish and exploitation but still managing to become a force for solace and liberty when America needed it most,

* Recognizing that knowledge was his pathway to freedom at such a tender age,

* Teaching himself to read and write and becoming one of the country’s most eloquent spokespersons,

* Standing up to his overseer to say that ‘I am a man!’

* Risking life and limb by escaping the abhorrent institution,

* Composing the Narrative of his life and helping to expose slavery for the crime against humankind that it is,

* Persuading the American public and Abraham Lincoln that we are all equal and deserving of the right to live free,

* Establishing the North Star newspaper when there was very little in the way of navigation or hope for the millions of enslaved persons,

* Supporting the rights of women when few men of such importance endeavored to do so,

* Arguing against unfair U.S. immigration restrictions,

* Understanding that racism in America is part of our “diseased imagination,”

* Recruiting his sons—who were born free—to fight in the war to end the enslavement of other African Americans,

* Being appointed the first black U.S. Marshal by President Rutherford B. Hayes,

* Being appointed U.S. Minister to Haiti by President Benjamin Harrison,

* Serving as a compelling role model for all Americans for nearly two centuries.”

We look forward to helping re-animate Douglass’s passion for equality and justice. We encourage the President to join in that effort.

Like the President, we use the present tense when referencing Douglass’s accomplishments because his spirit and legacy are still very much alive, not just during Black History Month, but every month."...

This concludes Part I of this series.

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