They were the pre-eminent self-made men of their time. Abraham Lincoln
was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling and became the nation's greatest President. Frederick Douglass
spent the first twenty years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling - his masters forbade him to read or write - and became one of the nation's greatest writers and activists. At a time when most whites would not let a black man cross their threshold, Lincoln met Douglass three times at the White House. Their friendship was based on usefulness: Lincoln recognised that he needed Douglass to help him destroy the Confederacy and preserve the Union; Douglass realised that Lincoln's shrewd sense of public opinion would serve his own goal of freeing the nation's blacks.
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Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President and led the Union during the Civil War. Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became a spokesman for abolition and eventually a wartime friend of Lincoln.