Lewis H. Douglass profiled in William Wells Brown’s 1874, “The Rising Son: Or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race”
LEWIS H. DOUGLASS
The senior editor of the “New National Era” is the eldest son of Frederick Douglass, and inherits a large share of the father’s abilities. He was born in Massachusetts, has a liberal education, is a practical printer, received excellent training in the office of “The North Star,” at Rochester, New York, and is well calculated to conduct a newspaper. Mr. Douglass distinguished himself at the attack on Fort Wagner, where the lamented Colonel Robert G. Shaw fell. His being the first to ascend the defences surrounding the fort, and his exclamation of “Come, boys, we’ll fight for God and Governor Andrew,” was a the time commented upon by the press of Europe as well as of our own country.
Mr. Douglass is an active, energetic man, deeply alive to every interest of his race, uncompromising in his adherence to principle, and is a valuable citizen in any community. He has held several important positions in Washington, where his influence is great. He is a good writer, well informed, and interesting in conversation. In asserting his rights against the pr0scriptive combinations of the printers of Washington, Mr. Douglass was more than a match or his would-be superiors. As a citizen, he is highly respected, and is regarded as one of the leading men of the district. He is of medium size, a little darker in complexion than his father, has a manly walk, gentlemanly in his manners, intellectual countenance, and reliable in his business dealings. His paper, the “New National Era,” is well conducted, and should received the patronage of our people throughout the country.
Brown, William Wells. The Rising Son: Or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race. A.G. Brown & Company, 1874, p. 543 – 544.
Do you want your own free copy of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia? The first twenty-five people to come to THEARC this Thursday, November 7th at 10:00 A.M. for a conversation with Frederick Douglass (animatron) and John Muller with get a signed copy!
1901 Mississippi Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20020
Metro: Southern Avenue (Green Line)
Fore more information call the Bellevue Branch at (202) 520-7446. DC Reads events continue throughout the city for another week with the finale and reception at MLK Library at 7pm on November 14th.
Frederick Douglass is known for running away from slavery. In his nearly 50 years as a free man Douglass ran with fugitive slaves, militant abolitionists, suffragists, journalists, authors, presidents, senators, freedmen and the next generation of civil rights leaders from Ida B. Wells to Mary Church Terrell to Richard T. Greener, the first black graduate of Harvard University.
Douglass mentored Greener, a frequent guest at Douglass’s Capitol Hill home and later Cedar Hill. The two men knocked heads in public debates at Douglass Hall, formerly at the corner of Howard Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. Greener was an intellectual of the first order. In some of the earliest editions of the New Era (later re-named the New National Era) Greener’s byline is seen. Greener would later purchase an ownership stake in the New National Era when it merged with a smaller Washington weekly.
Young Men, to the Front!
The adage which was once so common, if not so thoroughly axiomatic as to gain universal credence – “Old men for council and young men for war” – assumes additional notoriety to-day, when the old men are quarreling in the council chamber and the young men are kept outside the door. While the young men are willing to allow much to the school of experience; many of them are the followers of Locke, and believe in the doctrine of innate ideas. They believe, to continue the comparison, that experience and wisdom do not always spring from length of years, nor does ignorance appertain to youth as a necessity. They dare assert that, as there are those who would never be men, lived they to be as old as Methuselah, so there are some whose minds are as well filled, whose judgments are as mature at twenty-five and eight, and their energy as decisive as though they were in their tenth lustrum. Conscious of this fact, it is the absurdity of folly for the young colored men of the country to sit idly by and see the grandest opportunities slipping away, the best cases lost by default because of the lack of energy displayed by many of our so-called leaders who have been longer on the field. With some very few exceptions, honorable as they are rare, they have done well for their day and generation; but with regard to the needs and policy of the negroes of the present hour they are as innocent as babes. Men for the most part of excellent temper and good working capacity, they lack that which is the handmaid and often the indispensable auxiliary of knowledge and all effective work – judgement. Unconscious puppets often, they dance to unseen music, moved themselves by hidden wires.
The convention was the favorite resort of the leading negro of ten years ago. He convened and resolved, resolved and unconvened – read his own speeches, was delighted with his own frothy rhetoric, and really imagined himself a leading man. He talked eloquently then it must be granted, because he spoke of his wrongs; but when the war overturned the edifice of slavery “Othello’s occupation” was “gone,” indeed The number who have survived and held their own under the new order of things may be counted upon one hand. They survive through that grand old law so much combated but ever true – the survival of the fittest. They alone give character and reputation to the Negro. They make for him a fame which begets respect where his wrongs only excited pity. The field is comparatively clear now some of the older hacks have fallen by the way or lie spavined at the roadside. The question is, Will the young men of color throughout the country resolve to begin now to take part in public affairs, asserting their claim wherever it is denied, maintaining it wherever contested, and show that they young may be safe in counsel as well as good for war?
There are some who arrogate to themselves wisdom because of their years, just as some equally absurd people think they are wise because they never went to a high school or an academy – men, Heaven save the mark! who pride themselves on having never slaked their thirst at the fount of knowledge. It is not our purpose to disparage age. We remember what Cicero has written, so delightfully, of its pleasures; what Cephalus and Socrates thought of it in the Republic. We look “toward sunset” with reverences and respect; but it its with a reverence that makes us conscious of our own duty. The young men are now studying, working some, alas! idling away their time who ought to be the active, earnest men in the next Presidential campaign; young men who are to control the destinies of their race. Many of them are of marked ability and decidedly energetic in character. Not so fluent, perhaps, as their fathers, they are more thoughtful. They are found throughout the country. We feel that, if like Roderick Dhu, we should put the whistle to our lips and blow a stirring blast, they would spring up in every part of the country ready with voice, pen or muscle to do their share in any honorable work. In spirit we do this, as young men ourselves, willing to blow a blast which, would that the young men of the country would hear and heed! Young men, to the front! Young men, rouse yourselves! Take the opportunities; make them where they are denied! “Quit you like men; be strong.”
YOUNG MEN, TO THE FRONT!
New National Era, Vol. 4, No. 16, 24 April, 1874, p. 2
To complement the DC Public Library’s citywide DC Reads programming there are hundreds of copies of the book ready to circulate. Go to your neighborhood branch and get your hands on a copy!
I plan on attending on as many branch library book discussions as I can. Hope to see you soon and discuss the book!
Read more here: The Grio — “Black historical sites suffer in government shutdown“
- What was Douglass’s most significant contribution to Washington, D.C. during his more than two decades as a resident of the city?
- Why was Frederick Douglass known as the “Lion of Anacostia”?
- Why was Douglass reluctant to assist in launching a newspaper in Washington? What impact did the involvement of his sons – Lewis & Frederick Jr. – have on his decision to begin the New Era and continue to finance the paper?
- Why did Douglass have such a short tenure as a member of the Territorial Legislature? Why do you think he accepted the position?
- Why did Douglass move from Capitol Hill to Anacostia? What is the family lore behind his move? What was Anacostia like back then?
- What role did Frederick Douglass have as a member of the Board of Trustees of Howard University? Was his service of consequence? In what ways was he an active member of the Board?
- Why was the appointment of Douglass as Marshal of the District controversial? What objections were raised? What did he do while Marshal? What was his daily routine? What were some of the notable events of his Marshalship?
- Why is his service as Marshal an ironic footnote of history? (As a fugitive slave and in the wake of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry Douglass had been pursued by U.S. Marshals!)
- How did Douglass react to the death of his first wife? How did he meet his first wife? What was their relationship?
- Who was Douglass’s second wife? How did Douglass meet his second wife? What was their relationship like? Why did their marriage attract attention?
- Who were some of Douglass’s neighbors in Anacostia that he had relationships with? What sort of neighbor was Douglass?
- What were some of the ways the Douglasses entertained in Anacostia? What were some of the activities Douglass enjoyed? Did he play a musical instrument?
- How did Douglass mentor the younger generation of activists? Who were these activists?
- What churches did Douglass attend in Anacostia and across the city?
- Who was Frederick Douglass as a grandfather ? Who was Joseph Douglass?
- Who were some of Douglass’s friends in Washington? What was the extent of their friendship?
- How did Douglass earn his money? How did he spend and invest his money?
- What is the legacy of Douglass in Washington today?
- Why did Douglass decline invitations and suggestions to pursue a seat in the United States Senate?
- What are some of the new books expected out about Douglass?
For more information on the 2013 DC Reads visit —> http://www.dclibrary.org/dcreads
Do you want to take a walking tour off the beaten path? Do you want to get off the Mall? Do you want to discover Historic Anacostia and the life and times of Frederick Douglass, the neighborhood’s most famous resident?
A few places remain for a tour coordinated with Politics & Prose on Saturday, November 2nd at 1pm. Cost includes a copy of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, a Ranger-led tour of the Douglass home, and a walking tour of the neighborhood. More information here —> http://www.politics-prose.com/trips/frederick-douglass-walking-tour