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Art by & About African-Americans

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Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln Discussing Emancipation

11 1/4 x 11 in. (28.6 x 27.9 cm)

Hale Woodruff
United States (Cairo, Illinois, 1900 - 1980, New York, NY)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Tempera on masonite
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 2002.20
Location: Currently on view
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In 1942-43, a mural competition was held for the newly built Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C. The topic was "The Contribution of the Negro to the American Nation." Hale Woodruff submitted this imagined grouping of Frederick Douglass, President Lincoln, and members of Lincoln's cabinet. While Woodruff did not win the competition, his mural study is a dramatic reminder of the alliance of two of America's most courageous leaders, Lincoln and Douglass, during a period that threatened to destroy the American union.

While Douglass never, in reality, met with Lincoln's cabinet, he did meet with Lincoln and repeatedly urged the president to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Woodruff stressed the significance of Douglass's role by appropriating the historical image engraved by Ritchie and adding an animated Douglass and the colorful American flag.

[Gallery label text, 2004]

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Frederick Douglass MAG webpage with links to Frederick Douglass and African-American experience resources at MAG
University of Rochester Frederick Douglass Project For Teachers: Douglass in the Classroom

Lesson plans about Frederick Douglass using digitized resources in the University of Rochester Rare Books & Special Collections

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