Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass stand at the entrances to the New-York Historical Society—you should come and say hello to them! The statues were commissioned for the reopening of New-York Historical in November 2011 and are popular photography spots.
These two men were both born in the early 1800s but grew up in different circumstances with a few important things in common. Frederick Douglass was an African-American born into slavery in Maryland, and when he was just 20 years old he disguised himself as a sailor and escaped to freedom in New York. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky and grew up poor in Indiana. As soon as he was old enough, he moved to Illinois to start his own life. Lincoln and Douglass both saw education as the path to a better life and had to be their own teacher. Lincoln attended school only for a few months as a boy but learned to love reading; and it was illegal for Douglass to learn to read and write as an enslaved person, but he managed to get help from a young white mistress and continued to learn on his own.
Both men went on to have immense impact on the United States, and on each other. Frederick Douglass began his abolitionist work in 1841. Soon Douglass was talking to hundreds of audiences each year, speaking out against southern slavery and northern inequality. Abraham Lincoln was elected president, wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, and lived to see the North win the Civil War.
These two men—whose stories strongly connect to the idea of freedom in American history—will greet you as you enter.