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When Douglas entered the room Lincoln stood up and held out his hand. Douglass shook it and began to introduce himself.
The President cut him off. "I know who you are, Mr. Douglass; Mr. Seward has told me all about you," the president said. "Sit down. I am glad to see you."
Douglass recalled his meeting a few months later. "Now, you will want to know how I was impressed by him. I will tell you that, too. He impressed me as being just what every one of you have been in the habit of calling him—an honest man. I never met with a man, who, on the first blush, impressed me more entirely with his sincerity, with his devotion to his country, and with his determination to save it at all hazards."
Among the topics the two men discussed was the discrimination against black soldiers enlisting in the Union Army. "Mr. President, I am recruiting colored troops," Douglass said, quickly adding that his efforts were hampered by the army’s discriminatory practices. "Black soldiers were paid only about half of what white troops earned," he said, "and were not promoted no matter how bravely they fought." Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. Two of Douglass's own sons contributed to the war effort.
African American soldiers continued to prove their mettle throughout the conflict, even while waging two wars at the same time: physical combat and racial bigotry.
Douglass stated, "Mr. Lincoln listened with patience and silence to all I had to say. He was serious and even troubled by what I had said, and by what he had evidently thought himself before upon the same points. He impressed me with the solid gravity of his character, by his silent listening, not less than by his earnest reply to my words."
At the of end of their first meeting, President Lincoln stated, "Mr Douglass, never come to Washington without calling upon me."
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