Today’s post was written by Tiffany Walker, Archivist in the Textual Processing Division at the National Archives at College Park
Frederick Douglass was a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in the Northern states and gained a following via his enrapturing speeches and antislavery writings. In his time, he was seen as a living example of the potential of formerly enslaved African Americans, who ran counter to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.
Frederick Douglass, one of the foremost social reformers of the 19th century, was born into slavery in 1817 or 1818. Having gained his freedom as a young man, he devoted his life to the cause of human freedom and equality. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Frederick Douglass as Minister-Resident and Consel General to the Republic of Haiti. Douglass had long admired the people of Haiti for fighting for and winning their independence, and, as this letter illustrates, he readily accepted the position. He served as Minister to Haiti until July 30, 1891.
In the series Despatches from US Consular Officers (National Archives Identifier 302033) there is Douglass’ letter of acceptance to this appointment. Here is the letter below: