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Frederick Douglass Charles Sumner, April 29, 1865



Rochester[,] N.Y. 29 April 1865.

Allow me to entroduce to your kind notice my son Lewis H. Douglass,
He was born in Massachusetts, served as Sergeant Major in the 54th Mas-
sachusetts under the lamented Col: Shaw,1Robert Gould Shaw. took part in the memorable and
disasterous, though glorious assault on Fort Wagner, and was long under
fire on Morris Island. His health having broken down in the Service, he
was honorably discharged.2Lewis H. Douglass was honorably discharged from his position as sergeant major of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment for reasons of health in May 1864. Greene, , 87-88. His object now is to obtain, if possible a clerk-
ship, in the newly created Bureau for Freedmen.3Congress passed legislation proposed by President Lincoln to create the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, popularly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, in March 1865. Although the legislation authorized the bureau for only a single year after the conclusion of military hostilities, it remained in operation until 1872. The bureau originally supplied displaced Southerners, whites as well as blacks, with temporary rations, shelter, health care, and other essential services. Most whites soon ceased taking assistance from the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Andrew Johnson unsuccessfully attempted to block legislation to extend its mandate. Under the leadership of General O. O. Howard, the bureau soon expanded its mission to include establishing schools and arbitrating labor disputes concerning freedmen. Its actions faced vociferous opposition in the South, and President Grant allowed financial appropriations for bureau operations to dwindle. He terminated the agency in 1872 after reassigning Howard to deal with western Indian problems. Ultimately, Charles R. Douglass, not his brother Lewis, obtained a clerkship with the Freedmen’s Bureau. Foner, , 68-70, 82-88, 144-51; McFeely, , 257-58.

Anything you can do for him in that direction will be highly appreci-
ated and most gratefully remembered both by him and by your friend


[P.S.] The friends of freedom, all over the country have looked to you,
and confided in you, of all men in the U.S. Senate, during all this terrible
war. They will look to you all the more now that peace dawns, and the
final settlement of our national troubles is at hand. God grant you strength
equal to your day and your duties, is my prayer and that of millions.


ALS: Charles Sumner Papers, MH-H. Another source in Edward L. Pierce, ed., , 4 vols. (Boston, 1877), 3:228-29.


Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895


April 29, 1865


Yale University Library 2018


Harvard University, Houghton Library, Charles Sumner Papers



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