Harvard professor speaks about Lincoln and Douglass


After Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, abolitionist and ex-slave Frederick Douglass went to the White House to meet with Lincoln to discuss unequal pay in the military for ex-slaves. This was the first meeting of its kind, and, afterward, Lincoln is quoted as calling Douglass his friend.

This is just one anecdote that Harvard professor John Stauffer, a highly regarded author on antislavery, social protest movements, and interracial friendship, discussed from his book “Giants” which details the parallel lives of Lincoln and Douglass. Mr. Dan Otahal of the Social Studies Department arranged for Stauffer to come to Central to speak to over 100 AP U.S. History  students. AP U.S. History students will be reading “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” as part of their curriculum.

Both men grew up deprived of a formal education and were responsible for teaching themselves. Stauffer said both men read and knew the Bible and Shakespeare very well.  Stauffer continued to describe the relationship between these two men and the unlikely friendship that formed as a result of their social and political views.

Being an esteemed professor and author, Stauffer rarely speaks to high school students.

“[Students] have a curiosity that most experts and scholars don’t.  They ask different questions and provide a new perspective.  I really enjoy getting the chance to come high schools, even though it is unusual for me,” Stauffer said.

The author took time after his lecture to answer students’ questions.

“It was an interesting look at history.  You just don’t usually get to hear people that famous speak.  It was definitely a great experience,” said Mustafa Baridi, junior.