Digital Collections -> Pathfinders -> Many Roads to Freedom -> Frederick Douglass' Funeral in Rochester


For a more complete description of these events, you can read chapter 2  [pdf, 1.3 MB] of An Authentic History of the Douglass Monument [pdf, 13.8 MB] by John W. Thompson. Click here for additional chapters.

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Other remembrances. If you want to experience two unique memorials to Frederick Douglass, Rochester Public Library has Frederick Douglass scrapbooks which you can view here:

Douglass. Obituaries, accounts of his funeral and other material complete [pdf, 66 MB]. Click here for Scrapbook sections.

Frederick Douglass scrapbook complete[pdf, 175 MB]. Click here for Scrapbook sections.

You can also read  In Memoriam: Frederick Douglass, written by Helen Pitts Douglass in 1897. She was the second wife of Frederick Douglass.

The Death of Frederick Douglass
Douglass died at his home, Cedar Hill, in Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. on February 20, 1895. That day Douglass had been at a women's suffrage meeting of the National Council of Women. After dinner, he was talking with his wife when he suddenly collapsed. Two passers-by endeavored to help him but to no avail.

Services in Washington and Removal to Rochester
There were services for Douglass at his home and at the Metropolitan Methodist Episcopal Church. The church service attracted an overflow crowd. Many dignitaries took part, including representatives from the government of Haiti, members of Congress and the judiciary branch, and members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Susan B. Anthony spoke at the service. Members of Congress and the facility of Howard University were also present. Around 7 o'clock that evening Douglass' remains were placed on a train bound for Rochester.

The Arrival in Rochester
Rochester's Common Council met in special session to plan for Douglass's funeral in Rochester. By the time the train arrived in Rochester, the crowd had grown so large that it was difficult to clear a path for the march to City Hall. Thousands, including school children who were let out for the day, paid their respects to Douglass as his body lay in state at City Hall.

Douglass funeral - the funeral procession Old City Hall, where Douglass' body lay in state

The Funeral Service at Central Presbyterian Church

The funeral at Central Presbyterian Church (which later became Hochstein Music School) consisted of prayers, poetry reading, music, a speech by Mary S. Anthony and the address of the day, delivered by Rev. William Channing Gannett. Following the benediction, the cortege made its way to Mount Hope Cemetery. There Douglass' body was committed to the receiving vault to await burial in the springtime.

Line of mourners at Central Presbyterian Church Tomb of Frederick Douglass at Mount Hope
The Douglass funeral - inside the church