1995 32¢ Frederick Douglass
Issue Date: June 29, 1995
City: Gettysburg, PA
Quantity: 15,000,000 panes of 20
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
The release of the 20 Civil War stamps marked the most extensive effort in the history of the U.S. Postal Service to review and verify the historical accuracy of stamp subjects. Each of the 16 individuals and four battles featured were chosen from a master list of 50 subjects, which included Presidents, generals, major battles, rank-and-file soldiers, women, African and Native Americans, and abolitionists. The goal of the U.S.P.S. was to show the wide variety of people who participated in the Civil War.
A leading spokesman of American blacks during the 1800s, Frederick Douglass devoted his life to the abolition of slavery and the fight for black rights. Born a slave, he was sent at age 8 to Baltimore to work for one of his master’s relatives. There, helped by his new master’s wife, he began to educate himself. In 1838 he escaped to New Bedford, Massachusetts.
In 1841, at a meeting of the Massachusetts Antislavery Society, Douglass delivered a speech on what freedom meant to him. The society was so impressed they hired him to speak about his experiences as a slave. An avid abolitionist, he also fought against segregation in jobs, schools, and churches.
In 1845 Douglass published his autobiography. Fearing his identity in the book would lead to his capture, he fled to England where he continued to speak against slavery. In 1847 he returned to America and founded the antislavery newspaper, the North Star.
During the Civil War, Douglass became an important advisor to President Lincoln, and the two met often to discuss the problems of slavery. Douglass was also instrumental in recruiting blacks for the Union Army. After the war he served in several government positions, and was U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891.