Frederick Douglass is a founding father, like Abraham Lincoln. They were both critical in allowing America
to get closer to the Kingdom of Heaven that the Founding Fathers of the revolutionary period first outlined.
The original vision of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Paine, James Monroe, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin
was not compatible with slavery. If all men are imbued with ineliable rights, how are slaves not party to those rights?
The founding fathers are a group bigger than we generally think of. What we think of when we talk about founding fathers
is the theorists who defined American political philosophy. That's why Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Paine, James Monroe, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin,
Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass
were the most important founding fathers - they created our political philosophy. They had the biggest impact on the philosophical vision of America and that
vision is what truly sets us apart - not the fact that many of those people were European immigrants.
It took the Civil War, Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to complete the true vision of the founding fathers. They were the
final founding fathers. They gave us the vision of America that ever since has defined us. A righteousness conviction that a
free man and woman is the vision of our creator and our government must be in service of that ideal.
Frederick Douglas was a big advocate for women's rights as well. He fought for women's rights and even ran as vice president
on the Women Suffrage's ticket for their Presidential run.
Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant.
He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances across racial and ideological divides, and in the liberal values of the U.S. Constitution.
When radical abolitionists, under the motto "No Union With Slaveholders", criticized Douglass' willingness to dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied:
"I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."
The most influential African American of the nineteenth century, Douglass made a career of agitating the American conscience.
He spoke and wrote on behalf of a variety of reform causes: women's rights, temperance, peace, land reform, free public education,
and the abolition of capital punishment. But he devoted the bulk of his time, immense talent, and boundless energy to ending slavery and gaining equal rights
for African Americans. These were the central concerns of his long reform career. Douglass understood that the struggle for emancipation and equality demanded
forceful, persistent, and unyielding agitation. And he recognized that African Americans must play a conspicuous role in that struggle.
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!"
Your wickedness and cruelty committed in this respect on your fellow creatures, are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my back or theirs.
It is an outrage upon the soul, a war upon the immortal spirit, and one for which you must give account at the bar of our common Father and Creator.
- Letter to Frederick Douglass' Old Master.
Douglass was - of course - a close friend of Abraham Lincoln and helped craft the emancipation proclamation with him. After Lincoln was assissinated,
Lincoln's widow Mary Lincoln gave Lincoln's favorite walking-stick to Douglass in appreciation. That walking-stick still rests in Douglass's final residence, "Cedar Hill."
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. 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.
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.
In 1877, Douglass visited Thomas Auld, who was by then on his deathbed, and the two men reconciled. Douglass had met Auld's daughter,
Amanda Auld Sears, some years prior; she had requested the meeting and had subsequently attended and cheered one of Douglass' speeches.
Her father complimented her for reaching out to Douglass. The visit also appears to have brought closure to Douglass, although some criticized his effort.
That same year, Douglass bought the house which was to be the family's final home in Washington D.C., on a hill above the Anacostia River.
He and Anna named it Cedar Hill (also spelled CedarHill). They expanded the house from 14 to 21 rooms, and included a china closet.
One year later, Douglass purchased adjoining lots and expanded the property to 15 acres (61,000 m²). The home is now preserved as the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
In 1881, Douglass published the final edition of his autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
Douglass continued his speaking engagements and travel, both in the United States and abroad. With his new wife, Helen, Douglass traveled to England, Ireland, France, Italy, Egypt and Greece from 1886 to 1887.
Douglass also became known for advocating Irish Home Rule and supported Charles Stewart Parnell in Ireland.
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.
Continuing his work until the very end of his life, he died in 1895.