The photos of Frederick Douglass that helped him fight to end slavery

In a rare, salted-paper photograph, Frederick Douglass wears a sophisticated high collar, an elegant three-piece suit and a short salt-and-pepper Afro, coifed with a part down the middle of his scalp. Douglass, who would become one of the most photographed people of the 19th century and one of the country’s most powerful orators, appears in the faded photo with a righteous gaze, in a pose that the writer and activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton described as “majestic in his wrath.”

This photograph, taken in 1860 and unique in style among the dozens of images often seen of Douglass, is showcased in the exhibit “One Life: Frederick Douglass,” which opened last month at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

“He believed a photograph was an accurate representation of the figure,” Stauffer said. “He always dressed up for his photography, much like he did for his speeches. He wanted to create a dialogue with his photograph that he provided with his speeches. It was a form of representation he hoped would convince people to follow him in advocating for equality.”

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