Charles Douglass was born on October 21, 1844 in Lynn, Massachusetts. He was the third son of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass and his first wife Anna Murray.
Douglass attended public school in Rochester, New York, after his family moved to the city in late 1847. As a child he worked delivering copies of his father's newspaper The North Star. In his lifetime he worked as a soldier, journalist, government clerk, real estate developer, and secretary and treasurer for the District of Columbia school district.
In 1866, he married Mary Elizabeth Murphy, also known as Libbie. The couple had six children: Charles Frederick, Joseph Henry, Annie Elizabeth, Julia Ada, Mary Louise, and Edward Douglass. Joseph Henry was the only one to live to adulthood, becoming a famous violinist. Douglass and his wife were married until her death in 1879.
On December 30, 1880, Douglass married his second wife, Laura Haley Canandaigua. The couple had one son together, Haley George Douglass, who became a school teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., and mayor of Highland Beach, Maryland.
Charles was a member of Company F of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. The infantry was one of the first official black units in the United States armed forces. Due to a lung issue, however, Charles Douglass never took to the battle field. He was honorably discharged by a Special Order on September 15, 1864 to become 1st Sergeant in the 5th Massachusetts Calvary.
He died on November 23, 1920, following a short illness attributed to kidney disease.
Last updated: August 16, 2018