America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Frederick Douglass Cedar Hill Home

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, District of Columbia

By the time Frederick Douglass and his family had moved into the Cedar Hill mansion in Anacostia, he had already risen to fame as the Civil Rights advocate of the day. Three years after he escaped from slavery in 1838, he was encouraged to become an anti-slavery lecturer. In 1845, Douglass wrote his first autobiography and began to gain wealth, selling 11,000 copies of "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave." By 1847, between the book and his speaking engagements against slavery, Douglass had become well known, but also accosted for his beliefs. He had become disatisfied with the nation as a whole. "I have no love for America, as such; I have no patriotism. I have no country. What country have I? The Institutions of this Country do not know me - do not recognize me as a man." Image above: Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, 1977. Courtesy Library of Congress via Wikipedia Commons.

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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Frederick Douglass NHS, D.C.

At this time he began to travel the world, gaining additional fame in England and Ireland, returning in 1847 to begin publishing his first abolitionist newspaper, the North Star, and attending events on Women's Suffrage. By 1859, Douglass had become so disatisfied with the progress of either movement, that he met with John Brown about his raid at Harpers Ferry. Douglass, however, backed out, thinking success there as impossible.

Once Civil War broke out, Douglass continued his advocacy that an outcome of the war would bring freedom and equal rights on race and sex. Two of his sons fought for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, and when Douglass thought that black soldiers were being mistreated on pay and conditions, he met with President Abraham Lincoln to alter their treatment.

For more than ten years after the war, Douglass fought alongside abolitionist politicians to insure that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were written and enacted. He did, however, abandon the subject of Women's Suffrage in deference to the freedom issues of black citizens.

It was not until 1872 that Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass moved their family to Washington, then into the house on Cedar Hill in 1877. Three of his sons were already Washington residents, and Douglass was in line to take up government positions; Assistant Secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, Council member of the D.C. Territorial Government, on the board at Howard University, and became president of the Freedman's Bank.

Image above: Mural of Frederick Douglas imploring President Lincoln to allow black soldiers to fight in the Union Army under the same condition and pay as white soldiers, 1943, William Edouard Scott, Recorder of Deeds Building. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass home in Washington, D.C., 1980/2006, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass Home

Where Is It

The Frederick Douglass National Monument is located on the east side of the Anacostia River from downtown Washington, D.C. The mansion sits atop a hill, Cedar Hill. Its address is 1411 W Street SE, Washington, DC, 20020. Both the visitor center and free parking lot are at the bottom of the hill below the mansion.

What is There Now

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

The Cedar Hill home, Visitor Center, and grounds in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. recounts the days of Frederick Douglass as he spent his time writing and advocating for Civil Rights with the dignitaries of the day. The only way to tour the mansion is by a guided tour.

When Open and How Much

The Cedar Hill home is usually open for guided ranger tours, although that has not been the case since the pandemic. The grounds are open on Friday and Saturday with park staff on hand to answer questions. Entrance is free of charge. If you want a reservation to tour the house, when reopened, it is $1.00. School groups upon reopening $10.00.

Fees subject to change.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

History Nearby

For the Washington area native, or well traveled visitor, they know just how much history surrounds D.C., as well as within. Naming just a few; the National Mall with all those monuments, Mount Vernon with the story of George Washington, and Manassas, the first major land battle of the Civil War, etc. You can make a day of it or weeks.

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