Douglass welcomed the Civil War in 1861 as a moral crusade against slavery. During the war he labored as a propagandist of the Union cause and emancipation, a recruiter of black troops, and (on two occasions) an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln . He viewed the Union victory as an apocalyptic rebirth of America as a nation rooted in a rewritten Constitution and the ideal of racial equality. Some of his hopes were dashed during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, but he continued to travel widely and lecture on racial issues, national politics, and women’s rights. In the 1870s Douglass moved to Washington, . , where he edited a newspaper and became president of the ill-fated Freedman’s Bank. As a stalwart Republican, Douglass was appointed marshal (1877-1881) and recorder of deeds (1881-1886) for the District of Columbia, and chargé d’affaires for Santo Domingo and minister to Haiti (1889-1891).
When President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, it freed the slaves being held in the Confederate territories but it did not affect Slaves in Union-held and Northern states. They would not be freed until the passage of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865. Douglass described the anticipation: “We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky … we were watching … by the dim light of the stars for the dawn of a new day … we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”