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The History of Joshua R. Giddings Elementary School

Joshua R. Giddings Elementary School /Sports and Health Gym (Former Results Gym)

Originally built in 1887, the J.R. Giddings School is considered a historically significant building due to its role as the first all-black public school in D.C.

The Joshua R. Giddings School was named in honor of Congressman Joshua R. Giddings (1795-1864) of Ohio. Giddings was active in the Underground Railroad and a prominent abolitionist. Recognizing that slavery was a state institution, with which the Federal government had no authority to interfere, he contended that slavery could only exist by a specific state enactment, that therefore slavery in the District of Columbia and in the Territories was unlawful and should be abolished, that the coastwise slave-trade in vessels flying the national flag, like the international slave-trade, should be rigidly suppressed, and that Congress had no power to pass any act which in any way could be construed as a recognition of slavery as a national institution. Initially the school was only eight rooms, but in 1938 an addition including twelve classrooms and an auditorium was built in the Colonial Revival style.

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