Essay On Frederick Douglass
Douglass first sat for his “likeness,” as daguerreotypes were often called, around 1841, at the beginning of his public career.By the end of the decade, following his extraordinary success as an orator and autobiographer, he was famous at the very time photography had become hugely popular.While 19th-century men experimented with hirsute faces, few did so as frequently as Douglass. Among the 160 distinct Douglass poses, two continuities stand out.First, he almost never showed a smile, with the notable exception of an 1894 cabinet card, a popular post-war format that resembled a large postcard, six months before he died in 1895.
The most noticeable visual marker of his continual evolution is his facial hair and hairstyles.
The more rural southern slave states, however, were slower to embrace the medium.
Defensive about slavery, white Southerners seemed to tacitly agree that there was much about their society best left un-illustrated.
Engravings, cut from these photographs, circulated as illustrations in best-selling books, including Douglass’s, and in the press, enabling readers to receive the news visually for the first time. He and many other Americans believed that Mathew Brady’s photograph of Lincoln, taken in February 1860, helped elect him.
At the time, Lincoln’s candidacy was a long shot, as he was virtually unknown in the east.