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Fri, 06.01.1849

Virginia Hewlett Douglass, Suffragist born


*Virginia Hewlett Douglass was born on this date in 1849. She was a Black suffragist. Virginia Lewis Molyneaux Hewlett was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She was the daughter of the first Black instructor at Harvard University, Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett, and physical education instructor, Virginia Josephine Lewis Molyneaux Hewlett. On August 4, 1869, Virginia Hewlett Douglass married Frederick Douglass, Jr. in Cambridge. Together they had seven children, Fredrick Aaron Douglass, Virginia Anna Douglass, Lewis Emmanuel Douglass, Maud Ardell Douglass, Gertrude Pearl Douglass, Robert Smalls Douglass, and Charles Paul Douglass. When her sister-in-law Mary Elizabeth Murphy (married to Charles Remond Douglass) died in 1879, Virginia and Fredrick raised their two minor children, Charles Frederick, and Joseph Henry.

In 1877, a petition for women's suffrage support by the District of Columbia Black community was created and signed by Virginia Hewlett Douglass, Frederick Douglass, Jr., Nathan Sprague, and Rosetta Douglass Sprague. The petition had been part of a movement organized by the National Woman Suffrage Association. On September 21, 1881, Douglass wrote a letter to the editor of the Washington Sunday Item newspaper against school segregation and prejudice.

Virginia Hewlett Douglass died on December 14, 1889, at age 41; her death was listed as consumption. She was buried in Graceland Cemetery and later moved to Woodlawn Cemetery in Washington, DC. After her death, her brother Emanuel D. Molyneaux Hewlett took custody of her two minor children, Charles Paul and Robert Smalls.

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