Frederick Douglass, born a slave and never formally educated, was one of the country's most eloquent spokesmen in the struggle against slavery. The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is located in Washington, D.C.
© National Park Service
Cedar Hill was Frederick Douglass' Victorian mansion home,
which overlooked the U.S. Capitol. In 1962, the mansion became
the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
He was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in 1818. His mother, a slave, was forced to leave him as an infant, and he never knew his father. At an early age he discovered that education was the key to freedom, and he learned to read and write by trading bread for lessons.
Douglass escaped to freedom when he was 20 and became an active abolitionist. He founded an abolitionist newspaper, helped convince Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Act, and was appointed ambassador to Haiti. A defender of equal rights for all, he also supported women's rights.
When he moved into Cedar Hill, a Victorian mansion overlooking the U.S. Capitol, he was the first black man in the District's Anacostia neighborhood. Part of the National Park System since 1962, Cedar Hill is little changed from when Douglass lived there, and it shows that while Douglass advocated changes in society, he was comfortable being a part of its upper strata.
Much of the furniture in the elegant home is original, and Douglass' belongings indicate his wealth and success: Abraham Lincoln's cane, given by Mrs. Lincoln after the assassination; a leather rocking chair from the people of Haiti; and his greatest treasure, a library of 1,200 books.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Information
Address: 1411 W Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20020
Hours of Operation: Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. April - October; 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. October - April; except Thanksgiving,
Christmas, and New Year's Day
Learn more about these other national historic sites:
To learn more about other travel destinations in North America, visit:
- National Monuments: Learn about America’s national monuments, memorials, and historic sites.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- Washington, D.C. City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Washington, D.C.
- District of Columbia State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in District of Columbia as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.