To any Minister of the Gospel authorized to Celebrate Marriages in the District of Columbia, Greeting
You are hereby LICENSED to solemnize the RITES OF MARRIAGE between
Frederick Douglass, of Washington, DC AND Helen Pitts, of New York
if you find no lawful impediment thereto; and having so done you are commanded to appear in the Clerk’s Office of the Supreme Court of said District and certify the same.
Witness my hand and the seal of said Court this 24 day of January 1884
There were only four people present at the exchange of vows between Douglass and Pitts. Douglass’ children literally learned about the marriage through the papers. Pitts’ father, an abolitionist in Western New York who had invited a younger Douglass into his home, disowned his daughter for now marrying Douglass.
Thanks is in order to the DC Archives for generously providing this document.