Edgar Allan Poe, Richmond, Virginia, 1849

Restoration and Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

“Thompson” daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, 1849 (Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University)

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country’s earliest practitioners of the short story. Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
Poe was born in Boston, the second child of two actors. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died the following year. Thus orphaned, the child was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia. They never formally adopted him, but Poe was with them well into young adulthood. Tension developed later as John Allan and Edgar repeatedly clashed over debts, including those incurred by gambling, and the cost of secondary education for the young man. Poe attended the University of Virginia but left after a year due to lack of money. Poe enlisted in the Army in 1827 under an assumed name. It was at this time that his publishing career began, albeit humbly, with the anonymous collection Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to “a Bostonian”. With the death of Frances Allan in 1829, Poe and Allan reached a temporary rapprochement. However, Poe later failed as an officer cadet at West Point, declaring a firm wish to be a poet and writer, and he ultimately parted ways with John Allan.
Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City.
In 1835, Poe, then 26, obtained a license to marry his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. They were married for eleven years until her early death, which may have inspired some of his writing. In January 1845, Poe published his poem “The Raven” to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years after its publication.  Poe was increasingly unstable after his wife’s death. He attempted to court poet Sarah Helen Whitman who lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Their engagement failed, purportedly because of Poe’s drinking and erratic behavior. Poe then returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with his childhood sweetheart Sarah Elmira Royster.
On October 3, 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker who found him. He was taken to the Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. All medical records have been lost, including his death certificate.  The actual cause of death remains a mystery.
The day that Edgar Allan Poe was buried, a long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune signed “Ludwig”. It was soon published throughout the country. “Ludwig” was soon identified as Rufus Wilmot Griswold, an editor, critic, and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842. Griswold somehow became Poe’s literary executor and attempted to destroy his enemy’s reputation after his death. He depicted Poe as a depraved, drunken, drug-addled madman. Many of his claims were either lies or distorted half-truths. For example, it is now known that Poe was not a drug addict. Those who knew Poe well, denounced Griswold’s book, but it became a popularly accepted one. This occurred in part because it was the only full biography available and was widely reprinted, and in part because readers thrilled at the thought of reading works by an “evil” man.

Edgar Allan Poe’s final portraits are two quarter-plate daguerreotypes taken by William Abbott Pratt (1818 – 1879) in Richmond, Virginia, approximately three weeks before the writer’s death in Baltimore in October 1849. The two images, which differ from each other only slightly, are known as the “Thompson” and “Traylor” daguerreotypes.
A talented if slightly eccentric individual, the daguerreotypist William Abbott Pratt had been born in England in 1818, emigrating to America in 1832. He studied architecture and engineering (reportedly excelling at both), but in 1844 abandoned what seems to have been a promising career to open a daguerrean parlor on Richmond’s Main Street. As a daguerreotypist, he was immensely successful. During a twelve-year period he reportedly took some 35,000 portraits (including two of Poe and at least one of John Quincy Adams), and in 1851 displayed his wares at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London.

“I knew him well and he had often promised me to sit for a picture, but had never done so. One morning — in September, I think — I was standing at my street door when he came along and spoke to me. I reminded him of his unfulfilled promise, for which he made some excuse. I said, ‘Come upstairs now.’ He replied, ‘Why, I am not dressed for it.’ ‘Never mind that,’ said I; ‘I’ll gladly take you just as you are.’ He came up, and I took that picture. Three weeks later he was dead in Baltimore.”
William Abbott Pratt’s interview about E. A. Poe, 1854

Miniature portrait of E.A.Poe by John A. McDougall, ca. 1846 (The Huntington Library, San. Marino, Calif.)

In 1856 William Pratt turned over his business to the partnership of Sanxay & Chalmers, which in November of that year presented the original “Thompson” plate to John R. Thompson. Thompson, who had known Poe and would later deliver a series of exploitative lectures on “The Genius and Character of Edgar Allan Poe,” evidently lent the daguerreotype to a number of artists and photographers; by 1860 several wood engravings and at least two copy daguerreotypes were being circulated across the country. The original daguerreotype remained in Thompson’s possession until his death in New York in 1873, when it passed to his sister. In 1951, the plate was bequeathed to Columbia University.

Poe’s best known fiction works are Gothic, a genre that he followed to appease the public taste. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Many of his works are generally considered part of the dark romanticism genre, a literary reaction to transcendentalism which Poe strongly disliked.
Beyond horror, Poe also wrote satires, humor tales, and hoaxes. For comic effect, he used irony and ludicrous extravagance, often in an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity. Poe wrote much of his work using themes aimed specifically at mass-market tastes. To that end, his fiction often included elements of popular pseudosciences, such as phrenology and physiognomy.
Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today. The Mystery Writers of America present an annual award known as the Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre.
Links / Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Edgar Allan Poe
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore
The “Thompson” Daguerreotype
The Poe Museum
The Humble Fabulist: Philadelphia – The House of Edgar Alan Poe
Wikipedia: Death of Edgar Allan Poe
Biography.com: 13 Haunting Facts About Edgar Allan Poe’s Death
Wikipedia: Rufus Wilmot Griswold
Sothebys Auctions Catalog: Lot 37

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Emily Dickinson at Mount Holyoke, ca. 1846

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson at Mount Holyoke, ca. 1846 (Todd-Bingham collection, Amherst College)

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 – 1886) was an American poet. She was born at the family’s homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1830, into a prominent, but not wealthy, family. Her father, Edward Dickinson was a lawyer in Amherst and a trustee of Amherst College. Two hundred years earlier, her patrilineal ancestors had arrived in the New World—in the Puritan Great Migration—where they prospered. Emily Dickinson’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, was one of the founders of Amherst College. In 1813, he built the Homestead, a large mansion on the town’s Main Street, that became the focus of Dickinson family life for the better part of a century. Her father married Emily Norcross in 1828 and the couple had three children: William Austin, Lavinia Norcross and middle child Emily.
An excellent student, Emily Dickinson was educated at Amherst Academy (now Amherst College) for seven years and then attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for a year, before returning to her family’s house in Amherst. Though the precise reasons for Dickinson’s final departure from the academy in 1848 are unknown; theories offered say that her fragile emotional state may have played a role and/or that her father decided to pull her from the school. Dickinson ultimately never joined a particular church or denomination, steadfastly going against the religious norms of the time.
Although part of a prominent family with strong ties to its community, Dickinson lived much of her life in reclusive isolation. Considered an eccentric by locals, she developed a noted penchant for white clothing and became known for her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, to even leave her bedroom. Dickinson never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence. Dickinson was a recluse for the later years of her life. Scholars have thought that she suffered from conditions such as agoraphobia, depression and/or anxiety, or may have been sequestered due to her responsibilities as guardian of her sick mother. Dickinson was also treated for a painful ailment of her eyes. After the mid-1860s, she rarely left the confines of the Homestead. It was also around this time, from the late 1850s to mid-’60s, that Dickinson was most productive as a poet, creating small bundles of verse known as fascicles without any awareness on the part of her family members.
In her spare time, Dickinson studied botany and produced a vast herbarium. She also maintained correspondence with a variety of contacts. One of her friendships, with Judge Otis Phillips Lord, seems to have developed into a romance before Lord’s death in 1884.
Dickinson died of kidney disease in Amherst, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1886, at the age of 55.

Amherst College holds the original of the only currently authenticated photograph of Emily Dickinson

The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering,

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.

While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson’s poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.
Although Dickinson’s acquaintances were most likely aware of her writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Dickinson’s younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of her work became apparent to the public. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, though both heavily edited the content. A complete, and mostly unaltered, collection of her poetry became available for the first time when scholar Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1955.
Emily Dickinson’s stature as a writer soared from the first publication of her poems in their intended form. She is known for her poignant and compressed verse, which profoundly influenced the direction of 20th-century poetry. The strength of her literary voice, as well as her reclusive and eccentric life, contributes to the sense of Dickinson as an indelible American character who continues to be discussed today. Jane Campion’s film The Piano and its novelization (co-authored by Kate Pullinger) were inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson as well as the novels by the Bronte Sisters. The 2016 film A Quiet Passion by Terence Davies is a biography of Dickinson, in which Cynthia Nixon plays the poet.

Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Emily Dickinson
Biography.com: Emily Dickinson
Biography.com: Poetic Provocateur: 7 Surprising Facts on Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson Museum
Yale University Library
Amherst College
Flickr: The Dickinsons of Amherst
IMDb: A Quiet Passion (2016)

Hugh Welch Diamond & Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1848–58

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Hugh Welch Diamond (1809–1886) was an early British psychiatrist and photographer who made a major contribution to the craft of psychiatric photography.
Diamond studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and first practiced in Soho, where he became interested in mental illness. From 1848 to 1858, after a period at London’s Bethlem Hospital, became superintendent of the female department of the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum. There, he began a systematic photo-documentation of the inmates to supersede the engraved portraits commissioned by his predecessor Sir Alexander Morison. He worked in the belief that mental states are manifested in the physiognomy and that photographs are objective representations of reality.

Diamond described himself as a photographer, as one who
catches in a moment the permanent cloud, or the passing storm or sunshine of the soul, and thus enables the metaphysician to witness and trace out the connexion between the visible and the invisible.

Diamond was fascinated by the possible use of photography in the treatment of mental disorders; some of his many calotypes depicting the expressions of people suffering from mental disorders are particularly moving. These were used not only for record purposes, but also, he claimed in the treatment of patients – although there was little evidence of success.
Diamond was one of the founders of the Photographic Society, and became the editor of the Photographic Journal. Perhaps it is for his attempts to popularize photography and to lessen its mystique that Diamond is best remembered. He wrote many articles and was a popular lecturer, and he also sought to encourage younger photographers.

Seated Woman with a Bird, ca. 1855 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Seated Woman with a Bird, ca. 1855 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Patient in Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1850–58 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Patient in Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1850–58 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Seated Woman with a Bird, ca. 1855. This patient’s diagnosis is unknown, but the fact that the photograph was made in an insane asylum leaves open the interpretation of the scene.
The way the woman cradles the dead bird with its limp, broken neck while wearing a surprised, slightly bemused expression presents an uneasy question of whether she mourns the bird’s death or was the cause of it.
Patient in Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1850–58. This photograph may have been made to identify the patient or, by recording a phase of the disease, to serve the doctor’s diagnosis. Because the image is not annotated the viewer may, like the metaphysician, muse on whether the woman’s engaging but ambiguous smile and almost cocky pose denote a state of madness, a return to health, or a challenge to society’s parameters of sanity.
The Springfield University Hospital opened in 1841, as the Surrey County Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The hospital admitted 299 patients that had all be examined by Sir Alexander Morison, the visiting physician to Springfield, and taken out of various private madhouses around Surrey.
The estate, with 97 acres of land, was considered an ideal location for the Asylum because of its nearness to population centres, its southerly aspect and clean air, and a suitable water supply.  Springfield Park contained an 18th century mansion house, stables and a coach house, as well as farm buildings.
During WW1 the Asylum became the Springfield War Hospital. It was one of the principal reception centers for the mentally disabled from the front in France.
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust was formed in 1994 and has provided mental health services across south west London, serving 1.1 million people in the boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth. The site is still currently the headquarters of NHS Trust and provides a range of local mental health care services as well as a number of leading specialist services.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Hugh Welch Diamond
Wikipedia: Springfield University Hospital
The Time Chamber: Surrey County Asylum, Springfield Hospital
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Surrey Wildlife Trust

George Bernard Shaw, 1889

160 years since the birth of George Bernard Shaw

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

George Bernard Shaw in 1889

George Bernard Shaw in 1889 (Berg Collection/The New York Public Library)

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic and polemicist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, with a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory. In 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic.

“George Bernard Shaw… has a fund of dry Irish humour that is simply irresistible. He is a clever writer and speaker – is the grossest flatterer I ever met, is horribly untrustworthy as he repeats everything he hears, and does not always stick to the truth, and is very plain like a long corpse with dead white face – sandy sleek hair, and a loathsome small straggly beard, and yet is one of the most fascinating men I ever met.”
Edith Nesbit, letter to Ada Breakell – 19th August, 1884

Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society (a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of Democratic Socialism via gradualist and reformist effort in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow) and became its most prominent pamphleteer.
Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes.
Shaw’s expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success.
In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Oscar Academy Award.
In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours including the Order of Merit in 1946.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: George Bernard Shaw
Wikipedia: Fabian Society
Gutenberg: E-Books by Bernard Shaw
Spartacus Educational: George Bernard Shaw
New York Public Library
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Eleanor Xiniwe of the African Choir, 1891

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Mrs Eleanor Xiniwe (nee Ndwanya) of the African Choir, 1891. Photographed by London Stereoscopic Company studios. Courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mrs Eleanor Xiniwe (nee Ndwanya) of the African Choir, 1891 (Photographed by London Stereoscopic Company studios. Courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. Inspired by Orpheus M. McAdoo’s Virginia Jubilee Singers, they were a Christian choir on a mission to raise funds for a technical school in Kimberley in the Cape Colony (South Africa). The Choir’s members, drawn from seven different South African tribes, included Paul Xiniwe and his wife Eleanor, Sannie Koopman, Charlotte Makhomo Manye, Johanna Jonkers, Josiah Semouse and a Miss Gwashu. Their best known performance was before Queen Victoria at Osborne House, the royal residence on the Isle of Wight.

(Mrs. Eleanor Xiniwe) is a young lady-like, native woman, the regularity of whose features despite her sable complexion, vies with most European faces, and who has dignified and rather stately manners. – London Illustrated News, August 29, 1891

The Illustrated London News, August 29, 1891

The Illustrated London News, August 29, 1891

At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. They are the first black people ever photographed in Britain. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, was the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II. “The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renee Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating their archive as part of our research project.”
The London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company specialised in carte de visites – small photographs printed on cards that were often traded by collectors or used by performers for publicity purposes – and, as their name suggests, they were all in stereo which, when seen through a special viewer, gave the illusion of a three-dimensional photograph.
Sources:
Guardian
Autograph ABP: Black Chronicles II
Lasca Sartoris.tumblr.com

 

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1850

Fred-04

Colorization: Manos Athanasiadis

Frederick Douglass,

Frederick Douglass, “Majestic in his Wrath”, 1847-52
(photo: Samuel J. Miller / The Art Institute of Chicago)

“MAJESTIC IN HIS WRATH”
Frederick Douglass
(born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. 1818 – 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.
He was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland. He was the son of a slave woman and, probably, her white master. Around the age of eight he was sent to live with one of his owner’s relatives in Baltimore, Maryland. It was while living in Baltimore that he was mistakenly taught the first several letters of the alphabet. Those few letters opened a new world to him and began his lifelong love of language. At fifteen, the now literate Douglass was returned to the Eastern shore to work as a field hand. Here the increasingly independent teenager educated other slaves, resisted efforts to beat him, and planned a failed escape attempt. Three years later, at age 20, Douglass disguised himself as a sailor, and carrying a friend’s passport, boarded a northbound train from Baltimore. He arrived in New York City and declared himself a free man, adopting the name of the hero of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake”.
For 16 years he edited an influential black newspaper and achieved international fame as an inspiring and persuasive speaker and writer. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.

“Knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom.”

His three autobiographies are considered important works of the slave narrative tradition as well as classics of American autobiography. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography: “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”, which became a bestseller and influential in supporting abolition, as did the second: “My Bondage and My Freedom” (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography: “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”.
A firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant, Douglass famously said, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” In thousands of speeches and editorials, he levied a powerful indictment against slavery and racism, provided an indomitable voice of hope for his people, embraced antislavery politics and preached his own brand of American ideals. Douglass also actively supported women’s suffrage, and held several public offices.

In 1839 Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre announced the perfection of the daguerreotype, a photographic process that employed a silver-coated copperplate sensitive to light. This new artistic process was celebrated for its remarkably sharp detail and praised as a “democratic art” that brought portraiture into reach for the masses. Within a few years, thousands of daguerrean portrait studios had sprung up all over the United States, among them the one that Samuel J. Miller owned in Akron, Ohio. Although most of the likenesses made in commercial studios were formulaic and not very revealing of the subject’s character, this portrait of Frederick Douglass is a striking exception. Northeastern Ohio was a center of Abolitionism prior to the Civil War, and Douglass knew that this picture, one of an astonishing number that he commissioned or posed for, would be seen by ardent supporters of his campaign to end slavery. Douglass was an intelligent manager of his public image and likely guided Miller in projecting his intensity and sheer force of character. As a result, this portrait demonstrates that Douglass truly appeared “majestic in his wrath,” as the nineteenth-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton observed.

Sources:
The Art Institute of Chicago
Wikipedia: Frederick Douglass
Wikipedia: Daguerreotype
History: Frederick Douglass
History Is A Weapon: “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”. A speech given at Rochester, New York, by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852

Ο Φρέντερικ Ντάγκλας γεννήθηκε σκλάβος σε μια φυτεία του Mαίρυλαντ στις ΗΠΑ, το 1818. Σε ηλικία 8 χρονών, βρέθηκε σε μια άλλη φυτεία στη Βαλτιμόρη. Παρόλο που ο νόμος απαγόρευε στους σκλάβους να μάθουν να διαβάζουν, η γυναίκα του αφεντικού, παράτυπα, του έμαθε ανάγνωση. Η κοινή πεποίθηση στις Νότιες Πολιτείες ήταν ότι, αν οι σκλάβοι αντιλαμβάνονταν τη θέση τους, τότε θα ζητούσαν την ελευθερία τους.
Ο Ντάγκλας, άρχισε κρυφά να διαβάζει ό,τι έπεφτε στα χέρια του και σύντομα  προσπάθησε να μάθει ανάγνωση και στους υπόλοιπους δούλους. Στα 20 του χρόνια δραπέτευσε στη Νέα Υόρκη και από τότε αφοσιώθηκε στην εξάλειψη της δουλείας, με τη χαρακτηριστική ρήση: “Η γνώση είναι ο δρόμος από τη σκλαβιά στην ελευθερία”. Στα επόμενα χρόνια αναδείχθηκε σε έναν από τους μεγαλύτερους ρήτορες και υπερασπιστές των ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων, εκδίδοντας εφημερίδες, δίνοντας διαλέξεις και γράφοντας τρεις αυτοβιογραφίες που θεωρούνται κλασσικές στην Αμερικάνικη λογοτεχνία. Πέθανε το 1895, μετά από μια ομιλία του για την χειραφέτηση των γυναικών.

Στα μέσα του 19ου αι., τα φωτογραφικά πορτραίτα που γίνονταν με τη νέα εντυπωσιακή μέθοδο της δαγκεροτυπίας ήταν πολύ δημοφιλή. Ωστόσο, τα περισσότερα ήταν τυποποιημένα κι αδιάφορα, και δεν απεικόνιζαν το χαρακτήρα του εικονιζόμενου. Όμως, οι φωτογραφίες  που έβγαλε ο Ντάγκλας πριν τον Αμερικάνικο Εμφύλιο, στο Βορειοανατολικό Οχάϊο, το προπύργιο των πολέμιων της δουλείας, ήταν εξαίρεση. Ο Ντάγκλας ήξερε να χειρίζεται άριστα τη δημόσια εικόνα του και ήθελε τα πορτραίτα του να δημιουργούν μια συγκεκριμένη εντύπωση στους οπαδούς του. Σ’ αυτό το πορτραίτο, καθοδήγησε τον φωτογράφο του, Σάμουελ Μίλλερ, έτσι ώστε να απεικονίσει το δυναμισμό του χαρακτήρα του.  Η Ελίζαμπεθ Στάντον, γνωστή φεμινίστρια της εποχής, εύστοχα έδωσε στη φωτογραφία τον τίτλο : “Μεγαλοπρεπής στο θυμό του”.