FREDERICK DOUGLASS'S VISITS to Cleveland were made in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s to promote equal rights for AFRICAN AMERICANS. While the ex-slave sometimes came to the abolitionist Western Reserve at the bidding of white reformers, he more often came to address African Americans who were active in the movement, to improve their condition. On 11 Sept. 1847 he addressed an abolitionist meeting on the inequity of the "black laws" and impressed spectators with his eloquence. The next year he returned as president of the Natl. Convention of Colored Freedmen, which met in Cleveland to represent free blacks in the North. He addressed the group of carpenters, editors, barbers, tailors, and other free tradesmen and businessmen who shared concern over their enslaved brothers and over the position of African Americans in society. The resolutions that came out of the convention promoted education for African Americans in business, the mechanical and technical fields, frequent conventions, equality before the law, and the end of slavery throughout the country. Douglass's visits to Cleveland aimed to raise funds as well as exhort and encourage both races. Popular subscription drives were supplemented with festivals and dinners. On occasion, Douglass stayed at the Forest City House when he was in Cleveland. Since African Americans were usually barred from enjoying white accommodations, this phenomenon was widely discussed; however, he was not welcome to dine at the hotel's common meal table, despite a pattern of more permissive race relations in prewar Cleveland.

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