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Frederick Douglass, et al, to Andrew Johnson, February 7, 1866

Frederick Douglass, circa 1855, engraving, detail
More than a dozen prominent African-Americans, including Frederick Douglass, had met with Andrew Johnson at the White House earlier in the day on February 7, 1866. They had been interested in impressing on the President the moral and political reasons why African-Americans should be included in the franchise. Johnson, however, responded with what Douglass and the others considered to be a prepared speech and little discussion was possible. Johnson was cordial but essentially rebuffed any argument for the black vote on historical grounds and the fears that "a war of races" would commence, especially between former slaves and the non-slave-owning poor whites of the former slave states, who he claimed had a natural enmity. Douglass attempted to counter these points but Johnson was unmoved. The delegation later in the day, through Douglass, penned this open letter to the President disputing his main points and reinforcing their requests for representation. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "Frederick Douglass, et al, to Andrew Johnson, February 7, 1866," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,