[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 25 (Tuesday, February 11, 2014)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E197]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                       HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

                      of the district of columbia

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate the birthday of Frederick 
Douglass, I introduce a bill that would establish a Bicentennial 
Commission to study ways that the Federal Government might honor and 
celebrate the life of Douglass during the bicentennial anniversary of 
his birth in 2018.
  Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818 on the Eastern Shore 
of Maryland. He learned basic reading skills from his mistress and 
continued to teach himself and other slaves to read and write despite 
the risks he faced, including death. After two attempts, Douglass 
successfully escaped from slavery to New York and became an anti-
slavery lecturer and abolitionist. He went on to serve in several 
administrations, including as a close advisor to President Abraham 
Lincoln, U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia under President 
Rutherford B. Hayes and District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds under 
President James Garfield. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison 
appointed Frederick Douglass to be the U.S. minister to Haiti. He was 
later appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to serve as secretary of 
the commission of Santo Domingo.
  Douglass dedicated his life to achieving justice for all Americans. 
He lived in the District of Columbia for 23 of his 57 years as a free 
man and was deeply committed to obtaining equal congressional voting 
and self-government rights for District of Columbia residents. His 
home, Cedar Hill, was established as a National Historic Site, in 
Anacostia in Southeast Washington, DC and his statue in the U.S. 
Capitol is a gift from the almost 650,000 American citizens of the 
District of Columbia.
  My bill would simply establish a commission to examine ways the 
Federal Government can honor Douglass during the bicentennial 
anniversary of his birth, including the issuance of a Frederick 
Douglass bicentennial postage stamp, the convening of a joint meeting 
or joint session of Congress for ceremonies and activities relating to 
Frederick Douglass, a rededication of the Frederick Douglass National 
Historic Site, and the acquisition and preservation of artifacts 
associated with Frederick Douglass. The Commission would report its 
findings and recommendations to Congress.
  I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.