Frederick Douglass and the Cedar Hill Era

Apr 3, 2020Uncategorized

Frederick Douglass was a juggernaut of an activist, who spent his life fighting for equal rights. His life and legacy are honored at Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, a preservation of the last home he lived in.

Universally known for his influential writing and speaking, what other details of his life can we uncover? Read on to learn some lesser-known Frederick Douglass facts!


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 3 Things You Didn’t Know

About Frederick Douglass & Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

After the Civil War, Douglass and his wife moved from Rochester to Washington, DC. He named his new house Cedar Hill for the abundance of cedar trees on the property and the pristine view of the capitol across the Anacostia river. The relocation was for a couple of important reasons: first, he wanted to be close to his family since three of his five children lived in the area. He also held prestigious federal positions, serving under five presidents, and the location offered access to the capital. But there are some other interesting facts about Cedar Hill you might not know!

The "Man Cave"

A small satellite building on site is known as the Growlery, or “person’s private sitting room or a place to retreat when one is in a bad mood.” Charles Dickens coined the term “growlery” in his novel Bleak House. Probably inspired by Dickens, Frederick Douglass kept a tiny stone cabin at Cedar Hill called the Growlery, in which he would do his deep thinking, writing, and reading.

Photo: NPS


A Rule Breaker

Douglass bought his home, Cedar Hill, against the law of the time which stated that African Americans couldn’t own land in the Washington, DC area.

Early Suffragist

Frederick Douglass was an avid supporter of women’s right to vote. He attended the First Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 and was one of the signers of the historic Declaration of Sentiments. In an issue of the North Star published shortly after the convention, Douglass wrote, “In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man.”

Statue of Frederick Douglass at Women's Rights NHP

Photo: NPS

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