In this learning activity, the student will learn how, even in the
worst of events, you can take "three big lessons" from Frederick
Douglass and be successful. To study the life and career of
Frederick is one of the most uplifting learning experiences.
Frederick Douglass had great respect from several Presidents, and
was most instrumental in getting the Black American men into the
Civil War as full-fledged soldiers. The Emancipation Proclamation
was also a result of counseling by Douglass to President Lincoln.
Here are the three lessons of this activity. The student will
research Frederick Douglass' life, and then apply these concepts to
some personal activities.
Frederick Douglass was a great
American that, much like Abraham Lincoln, arose from the humblest of
environment to achieve firsts for an African-American in very hard
times. He would start his life not even knowing when he was born.
His masters did not encourage or allow their slave children to learn
their birth date. He was a gifted child that always wanted to know
about his roots and ancestors, and especially his date of birth, but
never could find out. When he wrote his first autobiography, he
made a statement that he was about 27 years of age.
He would devise plans of escape,
at a very young age. He would escape at a young age. Frederick was
taught to read and write by a white person when young, and he took
full advantage of these skills the rest of his life. As we will
consider in this multi-faceted learning activity the "Three
Learnings," he would speak on, these can be used in the learning of
Frederick Douglass and the events of his life. With Abraham Lincoln
the themes to consider are honesty and "learning by the light of the
fire." In this learning activity the two famous men and
acquaintances' will be compared and contrasted.
In this activity, the early life
(pre-1860), the later life (post 1865) will be covered in a later
sections. The primary Douglass life considerations will be the
period of time from 1860-1865. This activity could be covered
chronologically in-order, if time will allow such a study.
Frederick Douglass' role in helping the Northern war effort, and
Frederick Douglass Learning's:
--Frederick Douglass said, "What is possible for me is possible
for you." He used these keys and by making them his own, he
created a life of honor, respect and success that he could never
have dreamed of when still a boy on Colonel Lloyd's plantation on
the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
--On January 1, 1836, Douglass made a resolution that he would be
free by the end of the year. He planned an escape. But early in
April he was jailed after his plan was discovered. By September of
1838, he was free and moved to Massachusetts to be with his new
bride and enjoy his new freedom. This was the ultimate goal of life
to be reached. He would not stop there.
--THIS ACTIVITY WILL CENTER ON
DOUGLASS'S WORK DURING THE PERIOD OF 1860-1865.
--A brief study of his life will
help for understanding his Three Learnings.
--The activity will provide
experiences for intermediate grade level (4-6), middle grades (7-8)
and high school (9-12)
LEARNING ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHTS AND TOPICS
Portrait of Frederick Douglass
NORTH STAR ABOLITIONIST NEWSPAPER
A caption view of Douglass' first national newspaper
The Frederick Douglass Timeline
will be used in this learning
activity. Visit the timeline on the Library of Congress at
from the American Memories Collection: Frederick Douglass Papers
Online Collection at
Images from the Monroe County (NewYork) Library System Digital
Many Roads to Freedom, Abolitionism and the Civil War in Rochester,
Frederick Douglass House
The North Star,
established in 1847,
edited by Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass Autobiographies are available on-line from the
Library of Congress, Frederick Douglass Papers: In His Own
(4) including his:
A learning activity to learn of the effect of the first Free African
American to advise a President of the United States: his life from
slavery, runaway from owner, European traveler and orator, to
freedman and publisher of abolitionist and equal rights writings, a
prestigious public life after the Civil War
A champion of civil rights for African Americans as well as women
and all people in America.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS VISITS THE WHITEHOUSE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN TROOP CONDITIONS
Frederick Douglass Effect on the winning of the Civil War
54th Massachusetts Fight Heroically
Frederick Douglass-- "station master" of the Rochester terminus of
the Underground Railroad, writer, publisher, orator, Army recruiter
for black troops, and advisor to the President
Frederick Douglass' Three Life Learnings
REFERENCE TIME POINT FOR THE CIVIL WAR ERA OF
LIFE-WORK: FREDERICK DOUGLASS
BIOGRAPHICAL TIMELINE FOR THE YEARS 1860-1865
Returns to the United States upon hearing of the death of
his wife, Annie. Her death had the effect of curtailing
Douglass' European speaking tours.
Calls for the use of Black troops to fight the Confederacy
through the establishment of Negro regiments in the Union
Congress authorized black enlistment in the Union
army. The Massachusetts 54th Regiment was the first black
unit to be formed, and the governor of the state asked
Frederick Douglass to help in the recruitment. Douglass
agreed and wrote an editorial that was published in the
local newspapers. "Men of Color, to Arms," he urged blacks
to "end in a day the bondage of centuries" and to earn their
equality and show their patriotism by fighting in the Union
cause. His sons Lewis and Charles were among the first
Rochester African Americans to enlist. Douglass visited
President Abraham Lincoln to protest discrimination against
Douglass visits President Lincoln, protests discrimination
against black troops; visits President Lincoln in White
House to plead the case of the Negro soldiers discriminated
against in the Union army; receives assurance from Lincoln
that problem will be given every consideration; visits
secretary of War Stanton and assured that he will receive a
commission in Union Army to Recruit Negro soldiers in South.
Frederick Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham
Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of
constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and
other civil liberties for blacks. Douglass provided a
powerful voice for human rights during this period of
American history and is still revered today for his
contributions against racial injustice.
Douglass speaks at memorial meeting on life and death of
Lincoln called by Negroes of New York City after New York
Common Council refused to permit Negroes to participate in
the funeral procession when Lincoln's body passed through
the city. Later Mrs. Lincoln sends him the martyred
president's walking stick.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS ACTIVITY STUDENT TASKS
CIVIL WAR YEARS (LESSONS #1-#6)
Student Task #1--
1865, A GUEST AT PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S 2nd INAUGURAL
Start learning about Frederick Douglass by reading about his last
connection with President Lincoln when meeting during the Second
Inaugural reception at the White House, January, 1865. READ THE
ARTICLE FROM Abraham Lincoln Classroom at
(8) This article concerns Douglass' invitation to attend the
reception, his problem entering the White House, and how it all
ended up. Locate the section from Reference # 51. For this job,
Design and print a Lincoln White House invitation with computer
software such as Word, Publisher or other publishing software.
Make up a list of very important dignitaries that would have
received the invitation to attend President Lincoln's second
inauguration reception. Research to find out some of the major
guests that showed up to the reception, including Frederick
Douglass. Print enough invitations to address for each of your
invited guests. Remember the official White House/Government
Seal and appropriate image of the 1860's White House, and other
Write an essay describing how Frederick Douglass felt when the
policemen stopped him at the door of the White House, refusing
to let him enter the reception. Describe how Douglass responded
to this event. After reading Douglass' own words describing the
reception (after he finally got admitted), how do you think the
President and Douglass felt when seeing each other? Include
this answer within the essay. You could also include your
feelings about why this meeting between a sitting President and
a black man was so historical.
Read about Washington D.C. in the early 1860's. A good resource
to read is from the Mr. Lincoln's White House website, and
particularly the Nearby Washington article at
(9). Think about where the nation's capitol was actually
located. Why would Washington D.C. be a possibly "unfriendly"
place for a black man to be. Why would it be a "safe" place.
Student Task #2--
LINCOLN and DOUGLASS COMPARISONS & CONTRASTS
Make a Comparison Chart describing the differences and
similarities between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. A
great plan, in PDF format, is available from the National Center for
Teaching Thinking at
Abraham Lincoln's Classroom Online by the Lincoln Institute & the
Lehrman Institute at
(11). These contain a narrative about the two men.
Student Task #3-- A CIVIL WAR TIMELINE
Civil War timeline to check out events during the Civil War,
especially the first two years. the Civil War.com website has a
year-by-year timeline at
(12). The Civil War was not going well for the Union or President
Lincoln before 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued
January 1, 1863. President Lincoln would now authorize African
Americans to serve in the Union Army. African Americans and
Frederick Douglass would have a big part in the new direction.
Frederick Douglass would now become a recruiter for the Union Army
to convince male freed slaves to join and fight for the Union. The
timeline by Historyplace at
(13) describes the year 1863 when African American troops would
enter battle. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment under Col.
Robert G. Shaw. Read about Congressional Medal of Honor winners by
African Americans at the Buffalo Soldiers site at
http://www.buffalosoldier.net/CIVIL WAR AFRO-AMERICAN MEDAL OF HONOR
(14) Work within a small group, and make a memorial honor board for
all the African-American soldiers that won this award during the
Civil War. Provide detailed information and a portrait of each. As
you read about recruits, find out the names of Frederick Douglass'
own sons that were recruited as Union soldiers.
Student Task #4--
AMERICAN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR
Read the article about African Americans during the Civil War from
the Library of Congress Learning Page: Civil War and Reconstruction,
1861-1877, African-American Soldiers During the Civil War online at
Student Task #5--
THE 54th MASSACHUSETTS
Read about the heroic 54th Massachusetts Infantry Rgiment at the
Battle for Fort Wagner from American Originals from the
National Archives and Records Administration at
(16) Actual letters and pictures from soldiers from the 54th as on
the Battle of Olustee Site, at
Student Task #6--
DOUGLASS' THREE COMPLAINTS TO LINCOLN
Read the short article about Frederick Douglass' first official
visit to the White House to confer with the President. Answer
these questions about that visit:
What were the three "complaints' that Douglass would relate to
Read the resulting "Proclamation of Retaliation" that the
President would issue shortly after the Douglass visit. Why was
this so important for the African American Union soldiers?
Do you think the Confederate Army honored and abided by the
Proclamation with its' warnings?
OPTIONAL FREDERICK DOUGLASS STUDIES (LESSONS #7-#10)
His life before and after the Civil War
Student Task #7-- AS A SLAVE & FREE-MAN
Working backward in time, your job now is to study and read about
Frederick Douglass' years before freedom. In this you will learn of
his servitude, brutal punishments, illegal education and his escape
to freedom. Use the Online book Narrative of the Life of Frederick
Douglass, 1845 at
(17) & at the American Memories Collection of the Library of
Student Task #8-- CONDUCTOR ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Working forward in time, your job now is to study and read about
Frederick Douglass's years after freedom as a conductor for the
Underground Railroad and newspaper writer and publisher. Use the
Online narrative of this period of Douglass's life at the American
Memories Collection at
The section of his later,
Student Task #9-- THREE LEARNINGS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE
Frederick Douglass accomplished a lot in his life, based upon his
life-plan THREE LEARNINGS: 1. Believing in
yourself; 2. Taking advantage of every opportunity; 3. Using the
power of spoken and written language to effect positive change for
yourself and society.
Student Task #9-- EQUALITY FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
Returning back to 1863-1865, conditions for black Union soldiers
would get better. Describe how conditions improved, or didn't
improve because of the Presidential Proclamation for Retaliation,
and orders for equal pay, and other basic rights for blacks in the
Student Task #10-- AFTER THE WAR
Frederick Douglass' life after the Civil War, and the assassination
of the President would be, perhaps, the most interesting of his
career and life-history. Read Chapters of his last autobiography
The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
ON-LINE FREDERICK DOUGLASS READING RESOURCES
ARTICLE #1--FREDERICK DOUGLASS VISITING LINCOLN IN THE
WHITE HOUSE, FOR THE FIRST TIME
(an excerpt from an article An Unusual Friendship -
Lincoln & Frederick Douglass by William Connery at
ARTICLE #2--July 30, 1863. — ORDER OP RETALIATION
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, July 30, 1863.
Abraham Lincoln Complete Works Comprising
His Speeches, Letters, State Papers, and Miscellaneous
Writings. Ed. by John G. Nicolay and John
Hay. Vol. 2, The Century Co. 1894 p.
378 p. 378 Online at
"THE BLACK MAN AT THE WHITE HOUSE"
ARTICLE #3--ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT
From Frederick Douglass Autobiography
My Bondage and My Freedom 1855
CHAPTER XI SECESSION AND WAR, pages 350-355
ARTICLE #4--RECRUITER FOR THE U.S. ARMY
From Frederick Douglass Autobiography
My Bondage and My Freedom 1855
CHAPTER XI SECESSION AND WAR, pages 344-350
"MEN OF COLOR, TO ARMS"
Return to the Frederick Douglass