Frederick Douglass (ca.1818-1895), the leading black statesman of his time, lived the last 25 years of his life in Washington. In 1870 he arrived from Rochester, New York, to be corresponding editor of the New (National) Era newspaper. Douglass and his wife Anna Murray Douglass lived at 316 A Street with their children (Lewis, Charles, Rosetta, and Frederick, Jr.) and later purchased 318. They were part of a large community of African Americans who called Capitol Hill home. Douglass was as an editor of the New (National) Era until it folded in 1874. He served briefly on the Legislative Council of the District of Columbia in 1871. He also served as Trustee of the Freedmen's Bank until it closed in 1874. He and his family moved to Cedar Hill in 1877.

In 1964 the Museum of African Art opened here, occupying numbers 316, 318, and 320 A Street. The first U.S. museum of its kind, the museum featured Frederick Douglass memorabilia as well as African art. In 1987 the museum, now the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art, moved to the National Mall. Today the house serves as the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans.

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