This is certainly the case with the women who aided the endeavors of abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass. Here we take a look at some of the individuals who played important roles in his life. Harriet Bailey was enslaved in Talbot County, Maryland.
The words could easily have served as a motto for Susan B. Each of them International celebrities and fiery spokesmen for their causes, they were friends and allies of longstanding. But over time, their friendship would be severely tested.
Paid speakers on the anti-slavery lecture circuit, Douglass and Anthony were accustomed to grueling schedules and angry mobs. In Syracuse, New York inAnthony defiantly stood her ground on stage while pro-slavery adherents armed with knives and guns threw rotten eggs and broke up benches.
The role of women in the life of frederick douglass
Unquestionably they made an odd pair. The dashingly handsome Douglass, always impeccably dressed, was a married man and the father of five.
Attractive to women, for a time he shared his house, and probably his bed, according to the available evidence, with a prominent German intellectual. Anthony, two years his junior, equated marriage with subjugation and the loss of identity.
The famous friendship of susan b. anthony & frederick douglass
Her austere attire, severe expression and jutting jaw made her a constant target of ridicule in the press. Initially, Douglass was the more prominent of the two.
An escaped slave and electrifying speaker, he was only 27 when he published the first of his three autobiographies, all best sellers. Anthony did not meet Stanton until a couple of years later.
A resolution urging that women be given the right to vote—considered too radical by many at the time-- was headed for defeat when Douglass took the floor. On the strength of his oratory, the measure passed.
As a matter of theory, both Anthony and Douglass agreed that suffrage should be universal, that all persons, regardless of race, creed, color, or sex should have the vote. Where they began to diverge was over the question of which group should take precedence.
What if friendship, not marriage, was at the center of life?
Harsh words were exchanged over the 14 th amendment, which extended the rights of citizenship to black males but made no mention of women. Anthony, ever the absolutist, was incensed.
Stanton and Anthony angrily urged that the amendment be defeated altogether, resorting to vile language and racist tropes. Isolated by their rhetoric and intransigence, the two women walked out and formed a new organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association, or the NWSA.
Douglass, unsurprisingly, was furious at Anthony and Stanton. And whether out of magnanimity or plain old pragmatism, he was back on the platform of the NWSA convention seven years later and seldom missed another convention for the rest of his life. Historians differ as to how much animosity remained between Douglass and Anthony, who over the years did not hesitate to disassociate herself from him when she found it expedient.
Yet the facts make one wonder.
The remarkable friendship of susan b. anthony and frederick douglass
As soon as Anthony heard the news of his death, she rushed to Cedar Hill, his home in the Anacostia section of DC, where she remained for several days, helping Helen Douglass, his second wife, arrange the funeral services. Not only that, Anthony stayed in a guest room reserved for her visits and where her portrait was hung over the fireplace. Both can be seen in their original places of honor on National Park Service tours of the house. Tickets and information can be found here.