The influence Frederick Douglass
and Abraham Lincoln
had on each other and on the nation altered the course of slavery and the outcome of the Civil War. Although Abraham Lincoln deeply opposed the existence of slavery, he saw his mission throughout much of the Civil War as preserving the U nion, with or without slavery. Frederick Douglass, a former slave, passionately believed the war’s central mission to be the total abolition
of slavery. During their meetings between 1863 and 1865, and through reading each other’s speeches and letters, they managed to forge a strong, mutual understanding and respect that helped convince Lincoln the war could not be truly won without black soldiers and permanent emancipation.
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Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became a spokesman for abolition and eventually a wartime friend of Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln President Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, preserves many of Lincoln's most important papers. Abolitionism was the movement, centered in the North, that abolition of slavery even in those states that had practiced it since the founding of the country.