A note on steamboats & 1878 visit of United States Marshal of the District of Columbia Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to Mount Vernon, the home of President George Washington
Within recent weeks we have begun compiling nearly a decade of research notes and recollected thousands of conversations with community members concerning the lost history of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass of Washington City by way of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and George Washington of Virginia, the founding father of America.
One of the most evident examples of the lifelong sentiment Douglass held for Washington are the half-dozen or so visits he made to Mount Vernon, in both private and a public capacity, while living in Washington City following the Civil War.
While serving as United States Marshal of the District of Columbia in the administration of 19th President Rutherford B. Hayes Frederick Douglass joined an assemblage, on the steamer Mary Washington, to Mount Vernon in June 1878 attached to the annual meeting of the council of vice regents of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.
A man of modern conveyances, Douglass was a frequent and extensive traveler on steam ships around waterways in and around Washington City, Baltimore, Annapolis, Maryland’s Eastern Shore and tidewater regions of Virginia for the last thirty years of his life. This history has been lost and is unknown today in all existing scholarship on Frederick Douglass.
Traveling up and down, back and forth across the Chesapeake Bay by way of area rivers and tributaries from the Potomac to the Choptank to the Patapsco to the Chester to the Elizabeth to the Wye to the James to the Severn to the Miles, Frederick Douglass was a most conspicuous presence on any ship he boarded.
Although not infrequently the recipient of discrimination on steamships in antebellum America and during voyages across the Atlantic and to the Caribbean, it was widely reported that captains of the Chesapeake steam fleet welcomed Douglass aboard, often inviting him and his company into the captain’s quarters.
According to a section of Tindall’s Standard History of Washington City on local steamboat companies and their specific operations, including the Mount Vernon line:
The steamer W. W. Corcoran commenced making trips to Mount Vernon about 187, and continued to do so until re- placed by the Charles Macalester in 1890. She was burned at her dock in September, 1891.
About 1876, and for some years after, the Arrow, a small fast steamer, also took excursions to Mount Vernon.
The Mary Washington, a flat-bottomed steamer, equipped with a centerboard, was operated by E. S. Randall as an excursion boat to White House and Occoquon from about 1873 to 1882.
Further background on the Mary Washington and Mount Vernon’s line of steam boats can be gleaned from the indispensable writings of “The Rambler” in the Washington Star.
In 1920 the Rambler turned his rambling attention to steamers; specifically a series of “Rambles” featuring “Famous Old Passenger Craft of Historic Water Route – Phantom Ships as They Pass in the Night – The Mary Washington.”
The Rambler wrote:
Somehow or others, as the talk in the harbor office turned to old boats of the Potomac river, the first one mentioned was the Mary Washington and the first of the river captains mentioned was the Mary‘s first commander, Capt. Gregg.
Although it is perfectly proper to class the Mary Washington with the old Potomac steamboats, she was not so very old even when she passed away. Yet she was a famous boat and nearly every Washingtonian traveled on her. For years she was an excursion carrier to the popular river resorts, and the feature which endears her in the memory of so many Washington men and women is that they danced merrily on her decks. She was a dancing boat. Her decks were broad and smooth and the music furnished by the many bands that served on her was said to be always good
Thousands of people who are following these lines danced on the Mary Washington, which as the years went by came to be affectionately called “the Old Mary.” The Mary was not built to be an excursion steamer. She was built for business, and as the Rambler’s memory serves him, she was built at the instance of the Potomac Fruit Growers’ Association, an organization of Virginians that was quite active in the 70’s.
The Mary was built on Accotink creek, below the village of Accotink, in 1874.
The Rambler finds this paragraph in The Star of Saturday, June 6, 1874: “The new steamboat Martha Washington was launched at Accotink, Va., on Thursday morning and towed up to Alexandria, where she is to receive her engines.”
She seemed to have been named the Martha Washington at her launching, for that name occurs several times in the chronicles, but in a month after she was given to the river she was called the Mary Washington.
About the time of the Philadelphia centennial – that is, in 1876 – the Mary Washington came under the ownership of Capt. L.L. Blake, and by agreement with the Mount Vernon regents the Mary Washington become one of the Mount Vernon steamboats, the other being the Arrow, which was still commanded by Frank Hollingshead.
Col. Joseph C. McKibbin entered into partnership with Capt. Blake and they bought Marshall Hall, and for some time the Mary Washington was the Mount Vernon and Marshall Hall steamboat.
The Mary Washington was the steamer Douglass took to Mount Vernon in 1878 piloted by Captain Levi Lowell Blake.
(Douglass knew many prominent men who had once been affiliated with steamboats, not the least of the likes of Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens and P. B. S. Pinchback.)
The Baltimore Sun reported on the 1878 excursion of Frederick Douglass to the home of George Washington, writing:
A very large number of persons accompanied the invited guests to Mt. Vernon, on board the Mary Washington, Capt. L. L. Blake, to whose untiring courtesy very much of the success attending it is owing,
Among the party was Mr. W. W. Corcoran of the board of visitors, after whom the new boat of the association will be named; the Governors of Virginia and West Virginia, with large delegations from their States of ladies and gentlemen; Mr. Rogers, private secretary to President Hayes; Fred. Douglass, Marshal of the District; Judge Chas. B Ball, of Leesburg, Va.; ex-Lieut. Governor Thomas, president of the board of visitors; Col. B. P. Nolan and ex-Congressman Sweat, of Maine.
The council will adjourn to-morrow.
In 1869 Frederick (Bailey) Douglass took the Arrow to Mount Vernon. Over nearly 30 years Douglass visited Mount Vernon several times.
Note, article & research registered with United States Copyright Office; Library of Congress.
Authorship: JHM & JLM
“Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Frederick Douglass were men of statecraft and political acumen born during this month of February and their names and anniversaries are kept fresh and green in the thought and memory of the public,” says The Colorado Statesmen, member of the National Negro Press Association
The Colorado Statesmen, 20 February 1915.
Fall 2020 Walking Tours – Washington City, Baltimore, Eastern Shore, Western Maryland and Harpers Ferry __ * student rates *
OLD ANACOSTIA (Washington City)
October 3, 2020 – 9:00 AM & 11: 45 AM
November 8, 2020 – 9:00 AM & 11: 45 AM
December 6, 2020 – 9:00 AM & 11: 45 AM
ANNAPOLIS (Anne Arundel County, Maryland; State Capital)
November 14, 2020 – multiple dates
December 20, 2020 – 9:00 AM & 1:30 PM
October 25, 2020 – 9:00 AM
December 13, 2020 – multiple times
CAMBRIDGE (Dorchester County, Maryland)
September 12, 2020 – 9:00 AM & 1:30 PM
CAPITOL HILL (Washington City)
November 8, 2020 – 3:00 PM
FREDERICK CITY (Frederick County, Maryland)
October 10, 2020 – 9:00 AM
December 19, 2020 – multiple times
HARPERS FERRY (Jefferson County, West Virginia)
September 19, 2020 – 9:30 AM & 1:30 PM
October 30, 2020 – 9:00 AM & 1:00 PM
Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass, friend to the friendless street children of Washington City because he was once friendless in the streets of antebellum Fell’s Point, Baltimore Towne
Circulation of the street news of the passing of Honorable Frederick (Bailey) Douglass the evening of February 20, 1895 hit the hearts, minds and souls of Black American newspaper boys with lifelong lasting impact and repercussions.
Oral histories and records confirm upon Crosby Noyes conversating with a crestfallen integrated group of newsies, advocacy of Washington’s Black citizens and admiration of Evening Star editors a special commemorative edition of the paper was printed to recognize the life of Frederick Douglass and his tireless contributions to Washington City and his country from local corners to the world’s greatest stages as an honored guest of legislative, presidential and diplomatic heads of states for a half-century.
Upon distribution of the special edition white newspaper boys reportedly gave their special copies to their fellow Black American brothers-in-news satchels to vend out of a measure of respect for their mutual friend.
Historians have uniformly ignored questions of with whom and how Dr. Douglass carried himself on the corners.
Coming up mentored by an intricate collective of Black American Revolutionary War Patriots on the Tuckahoe and Black American Defenders of Baltimore in a pre-Industrial age Dr. Douglass knew what it is running the streets from his own days of running the streets.
During annual Emancipation Day parades Dr. Douglass was known to walk among the junior cadets and drum corps, knowing many of the young participant’s parents and grand-parents.
Having never attended a formal day of school in his life Dr. Douglass knew the first generation of Black American founders and presidents of universities and institutions of higher learning since they were kids.
Today the legacy and lessons of Dr. Douglass abide to the school children in every school house in America and throughout classrooms of freedom-loving peoples of the civilized world.
Dr. Douglass continues to reach and teach the children across geography and nationality.
Why and how is this?
It was said of Dr. Douglass there was no better friend to the orphan and the friendless. With regularity and deliberateness Dr. Douglass lectured to benefit night schools, alms hours, orphanages, churches, community centers, relief funds, camp meetings and all manners of charitable efforts organized and led by Black Americans.
Although now known and venerated with statues the world over, Frederick Bailey was once a friendless youngblood adolescent whom Black American Revolutionary War Patriots, AME ministers, Justices of the Peace, Point Boys and the Black Defenders of Baltimore especially looked out for and protected.
During his sojourns on foot throughout Washington Dr. Douglass returned the benevolence he received from the streets to the streets.
More than a century later these streets guard, preserve and recognize the lost history quiet as kept.
If you don’t know come down to the streets of indigenous Douglassonian communities and ask somebody as we have.
Amanda Fenstermaker, Marci Ross, Boyd Rutherford, Victoria Jackson-Stanley, Drew Gruber, etc. invited to Frederick Douglass in Cambridge Walking Tour (Sat., September 12, 2020)
With the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial recognized throughout the country, and world, the local impact and significance of his consequential life has been largely overlooked in the state of Maryland and his native Eastern Shore.
Join historian and author John Muller, the leading international expert on Frederick Douglass, as well as the lost and unknown history on the Eastern Shore, for a special walking tour, “Frederick Douglass in Cambridge,” which will share the importance of two visits Dr. Douglass made to Cambridge in 1877 and 1878.
The tour will begin at Long Wharf, where Douglass arrived in Cambridge, and proceed up High Street past the Courthouse and Christ Episcopal Church. Stopping at Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church and then proceeding down Pine Street to Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Douglass addressed a multi-racial gathering including members of the Lloyd family, the tour will interweave the local history of Patty Cannon, Bishop John Fletcher Hurst, Professor John Mercer Langston, Governor Henry Lloyd, Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe and others.
The tour will formally conclude in front of Bethel AME Church on the historic Pine Street, home of fraternal organizations and communal life for elders of Cambridge’s Black American community.
Les historiens ne vous l’ont pas encore dit, donc vous ne savez pas.
Frederick (Bailey) Douglass était un francophile noir américain en raison de l’influence de sa femme honorée et digne; Anna du Tuckahoe.
Frederick ne pouvait pas briser les coins et les communautés avec des réfugiés haïtiens, priant dans une langue étrangère à une nation étrangère, tout comme Anna.
“Le regard blanc” du honteux Leigh Fought, et presque tous les historiens blancs qui ont déjà étudié Douglass, n’ont jamais compris la complexité d’Anna.
Les femmes blanches ne devraient plus jamais écrire sur Anna Murray après le travail honteux de Leigh Fought.
Anna Murray était une abolitionniste internationale une décennie avant que le monde n’entende parler de son mari.
Nous savons qui sont ces historiens honteux: David Blight, Leigh Fought, John Stauffer, Celeste Marie-Bernie et toute l’équipe d’historiens des mensonges blancs.
Anna Murray a été affiliée et initiée avec des abolitionnistes internationaux à l’adolescence; elle garde un évêque de l’Église épiscopale méthodiste africaine sur le Tuckahoe. Anna Murray a eu du respect sur chaque crique de la côte est et à l’angle de la ville de Baltimore.
Nous devons élever l’histoire, l’âme et l’esprit d’Anna Murray; le héros le plus méconnu du mouvement abolitionniste international. Sans Anna, nous ne connaîtrions pas Frédéric.
Nous avons été élevés par des grands-mères, des tantes, des sœurs, des cousines, des dames d’église, des bibliothécaires, des enseignants et des gardiens du coin dans l’esprit d’Anna Murray. Par conséquent, nous devons raconter une fois et pour toujours l’histoire perdue.
VIDEO: Street Historian John Muller, disciple of Honorable Master American Moor Historian William Alston-El, provides walking path of Hon. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass through Old Anacostia
Grand-children & grand-nephews of the late Honorable Master American Moor Historian William Alston-El remain vigil on Old Jefferson Street at this exact moment.
Over the years at all hours of the day I have brought friends, family, tourists, historians and neighbors to the horse tie.
Until the end of time my friend’s name is included among the active community members who participated in the planning process for the Anacostia Heritage Trail signs.
As a teenage activist and leader of young men, William was recruited out of the streets of Southeast Washington in the 1960s by the late Honorable Master Community Historian Dr. John Kinard, founder of the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum.
While incarcerated in Lorton Reformatory in the 1970s Dr. Kinard offered William a position with the museum upon his return to the community. In the late 1970s and early 1980s William worked as an exhibit technician for the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum alongside the immortals Dr. Kinard and Honorable Louise Daniel Hutchinson.
This is part of the history I share, with approval and blessings of William’s family, while narrating the street history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass as an everyday Old Anacostia denizen and local citizen-activist on Old Jefferson Street.
Utter ignorance of Sandi L. Williams of the Sandy Spring Slave Museum presents crisis within local country roads history community
Coming up around the country road junction of Sunshine Burger at Georgia Avenue & New Hampshire Avenue I caught chatter at a young age and while a student at Sherwood High School that Frederick Douglass was intimately affiliated with the community and several families.
As an adult, after traveling the corners of the world to speak at the most prestigious libraries and institutions of higher learning, I learned what the real history is and was.
The oral history I heard as a teen going 105 miles an hour in Thomas’ Intrepid on Brooke Road is true. What Sandy Spring says about the connection of Frederick Douglass to the community and families is true; make-believe chair or not.
In October 2019 I attended an information session held by the Sandy Spring Museum regarding a nearly $30,000 grant they received to document the “Historically Black Communities of Sandy Spring.” There has no been zero follow-up on the history from the Sandy Spring Museum and Allison Weiss.
To compound all this inaction, indifference and ignorance, we have Sandi L. Williams.
Sandi L. Williams, an administrator with Montgomery County Public Schools, is one of the main administrators of the Sandy Spring Slave Museum.
Below are text messages she sent immediately following a comment I made on the Sandy Spring Slave Museum’s Instagram account about their not knowing their own history.
For example, the history of Sandy Spring’s Black American community is largely the history of an independent and autonomous Free Black community so why it is called the “Sandy Spring Slave Museum,”?
I have always understood the name of the museum to be a misnomer.
Therefore henceforth whereas herein I hereby declare with the authority of being introduced to the Sandy Spring spring by Coach Crutch that I have an ancient and sacred obligation to not only call Sandi L. Williams out her name and my community, but additionally share, whereas I respected Ruby I have no respect for her daughter.
And I would tell Ruby this if I could. You can check the year book to confirm I will say whatever I want to anyone despite any idle threats.
Do you threaten your students at Wheaton High School & Montgomery County Public Schools, how you threaten me?
You should not be working in any capacity as an educator within the public schools and your leadership of the Sandy Spring Slave Museum is nothing less than dishonorable and disgraceful.
The Tuckahoe’s community of Black American Patriots that raised up Frederick (Bailey) Douglass toughening his knuckles to combat the world
Old Bets (c. 1772 – 1849) was known as an old settler along the Tuckahoe.
Delivering children for generations and vending sweet potatoes, fishing nets and shad in the towns of Cordova, Denton, Hillsboro, Queen Anne, Starr, Thomasville, Williston Mill and nearby mill towns the maternal grandmother of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass held command and respect equally among the families and community whom served as officers alongside General George Washington and General Marquis de Lafayette, as well as those who served Washington, Lafayette and other historic American revolutionaries as trusted confidants, body servants and aide-de-camps.
The revolution that was and is America is due revolutionaries.
Frederick Bailey was raised up around Black American patriotic revolutionaries. These men knew George Washington and his officer corps, as well they knew Old Bets and her family.
To describe the Tuckahoe community as a “backwater,” as Yale professor David Blight does and did while touring throughout the country’s universities, libraries and historical societies is not only harmful, and in conflict with the historical legacy and documented record of the community which raised the subject of his Pulitzer-Prize winning book, but it is scholastically disgraceful, thoughtless and blasphemous.
The same year Frederick was born Congress passed the Revolutionary War Pension Act of 1818, granting lifetime pensions to surviving members of the Continental Army who served at least nine months and were in need of assistance from their country.
The next year, within a week or so of Frederick’s 1-year birthday, Thomas Carney of Caroline County walked through the doors of the courthouse to affirm his Constitutional right to a pension for his service to his country and state.
According to Carney’s pension application:
On this 24th day of February 1819, before me, the subscriber Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District of Maryland, personally appeared Thomas Carney aged about Sixty years, resident in Caroline County and the said State, who, being by me first duly sworn, according to law, doth, on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the provision made by the late act of Congress, entitled “An act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States in the revolutionary war:”
[T]hat he, the said Thomas Carney enlisted for the term of three years in the Spring as he thinks of 1777 in Caroline County in the State of Maryland in the Company commanded by Captain John Hawkins of the Regiment commanded by Colonel William Richardson in the line of the State of Maryland, on the Continental Establishment; that he continued to serve in said corps, or in the service of the United States, until he enlisted for the war at the close of which he was discharged from service at Annapolis in the State aforesaid, , that he was in the battles of Brandywine [September 11, 1777], Germantown [October 4, 1777], White Plains [October 28, 1776], Monmouth [June 28, 1778], Camden [August 15-16, 1780], Guilford Court House [March 15, 1781], Ninety Six [May 22-June 19, 1781], and of Eutaw Springs [September 8, 1781] and that he is in reduced circumstances, and stands in need of the assistance of his country for support.
Local Revolutionary War hero General Perry Benson affirmed Carney’s patriotic service.
Carney was awarded his rightful pension, as well as other Black American Patriots of the Tuckahoe.
Old Bets knew the community and the community knew Old Bets.
Among the elders and leaders of the Black community of the Tuckahoe, Old Bets knew these patriots and these patriots knew her – and her grandson.
Instilled with an entrepreneurial intellect and the gift of gab from his grandmother, Frederick Bailey recognized the status and movement of his grandmother among the white and Black communities of the Tuckahoe from the preachers to pensioners of the Revolution.
Among the informal ranks of the Caroline County Black Chamber of Commerce of the 1820s Old Bets was regarded and respected among other Black American vendors, tradesmen and tradeswoman -enslaved, indentured and Free.
Within this service economy James Due was a shoe cobbler.
Extant records and meeting minutes of the Caroline County Black Chamber of Commerce of the 1820s have yet to be discovered but we are confident there would be notations of the conversations and possible business interactions between Old Bets and Honorable James Due.
Frederick Bailey would have been and was right there. They all knew Old Bets’ grandson. Just ask Daniel Lloyd, the governor’s son.
None of this research nor history is contained within a solar system of David Blight’s speculative and scandal-mongering drivel. Master Douglassonian Dickson J. Preston gives hints and clues but never goes where he could have and/or where his research was inevitably going.
Nobody knows. We do.
The history of the Tuckahoe abides.