An Appeal

Above is William Edouard Scott’s painting Frederick Douglass Appealing to President Lincoln (2010).  This painting illustrates Frederick Douglass’ appeal to Abraham Lincoln to allow black soldiers to serve in the Union during the Civil War.  Douglass and Lincoln met several times, but this interaction is fictional (they met at the White House after Congress passed a bill allowing black soldiers to fight for the Union).  However, it accurately portrays Douglass’ dedication for equal rights in every aspect.  Full citizenship in the United States includes the ability to fight for one’s country; therefore, black citizens should be eligible to fight in the war.  It seems that Douglass is asking plainly for Lincoln to comply with his request, illustrated by his open hands.  The shawl around his neck represents his pacifistic manner over his formal presentation, the black suit.  It is interesting to note that Douglass is requesting this change for others – he is clearly too old, indicated by his gray hair, to fight in the army.  He is a clear leader for the oppressed.

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