T. Thomas Fortune reads poem at unveiling of Frederick Douglass Monument in Rochester (1898)

Image result for t thomas fortunePOEM BY MR. T. THOMAS FORTUNE.

In introducing T. Thomas Fortune, of New York, editor of The Age, one of the leading papers published in the interest of his race. Mr. Thompson paid a fitting tribute to his abilities and his earnest efforts to secure the erection of the monument.

Mr. Fortune read an original poem, entitled, “Frederick Douglass”

The poem follows:

We cannot measure here the dizzy heights he trod
To whom this glyptic shaft is lifted from the sod,
Towards the matchless azure of sweet Freedom’s skies,
If we forget the depths whence God bade him arise,
Above the slave’s log cabin and a sireless birth,
To be a prince among the children of the earth !

No giant who has placed one foot upon the land
And one upon the sea, with power to them command,
To bid the angry turbulence of each be still,
And have them bend obedient to his master’s will —
Ever started lower in the social scale than he —
This Champion of the Slave, this Spokesman of the Free !

In him the deathless lesson of one common race
Was taught anew — the lesson you who will may trace
From Babel’s fatal tower to fateful Waterloo —
From Eden’s blest abode to slavery’s Tuckaho —
That still “one touch of nature makes the whole world kin,”

The world of love and joy, the world of woe and sin.
But such as Douglass was not born to wear a chain —

At the slave’s task to bend and cower and cringe and
strain —
To bare his princely back to the rude lash whose welt
Produced no pain that his proud soul must have felt !
As Moses did, he served in bondage for an hour
The better to be armed to crush the master’s power.

It has been ever thus since the old world was young —
The giants of the race from the head of woe have sprung —
Out of the agony and sweat and rayless hope
In which the swarming masses have been doomed to grope.
So lifts its head from rocks and sands the lighthouse brave,
To guide the fearless sailor o’er the treacherous wave.

For who can sing of woe who never felt a pain —
Who never hoped ‘gainst hope to know a joy again?
Who thirst for vengeance on the skulking, coward foe
As he whose sire or mate has fallen ‘neath the blow?
Who feel the venom of the slave’s undying hate
As lie whose lot has been the slave’s degrading fate?

Image result for frederick douglass memorial rochester 1898‘Twas a long way to the north star from Tuckaho —
From slavery’s dark shade to freedom’s electric glow —
From out the depths — “O the depths !” — of slavery’s long
night —
To the high altitude of freedom’s fadeless light !
And here he stood in winter’s storm and summer’s sun,
Majestic, brave, till the fierce war was fought and won.

We claim him as our own, the greatest of the race,
In whom the rich sun stamp of Africa you trace,
And we delight to place upon his massive brow
Affection’s crown of reverence, as we do now.
But, in a larger sense, forsooth, did he belong
To all the race, a prophet strong among the strong !

For he was large in stature and in soul and head
True type of New America, whose sons, ’tis said,
The western world shall have as glorious heritage —
That they shall write in history’s fadeless, truthful page
Such deeds as ne’er before have wrought for liberty
And all the arts of peace — the strongest of the free !

And every depth he braved, and every height he trod
From earth’s alluring shrines to the presence of his God;
And he was cheered by children’s confidence and trust,
A tribute never withheld from the true and just;
And woman’s sympathy was his, the divine power
That rules the world in calmest and stormiest hour !

To him all weakness and all suffering appealed;
‘Gainst none such was his brave heart ever steeled.
And pleading womanhood for honest rights denied
No champion had of sturdier worth to brave wrong’s pride —
To claim for her in all the fullest measure true
Of justice God ordained her portion, as her due.

He needs no monument of stone who writes his name
By deeds, in diamond letters, in the Book of Fame —
Who rises from the bosom of the race to be
A champion of the slave, a spokesman of the free —
Who scorns the fetters of a slave’s degrading- birth
And takes his place among the giants of the earth.

This shaft is lifted high in Heaven’s holy air
To keep alive our wavering hope, a message bear
Of inspiration to the living from the dead,
Who dared to follow where the laws of duty led,
They are so few — these heroes of the weak and strong —
That we must honor them in story and in song.

So let this towering, monumental column stand,
While freedom’s sun shall shine upon our glorious land,
A guiding star of hope divine for all our youth,
A living witness to the all-enduring truth —
The living truth that makes men brave to death, and true —
The truth whose champions ever have been few —
The truth that made the life of Douglass all sublime,
And gave it as a theme of hope to every clime !

Mr. Fortune’s poem was followed by an excellent violin solo by Joseph Douglass, of Washington, a grandson of Frederick Douglass. The older members of the audience, who remembered the great freedman’s love for music, and his own proficiency in the use of the violin, recalled many instances and greeted the young player with enthusiasm.

He played a selection from Verdi’s “II Trovatore.”

An Authentic History of the Douglass Monument; Biographical Facts and Incidents in the Life of Frederick Douglass (1903)

Editor’s NOTE:

More information on the radical friendship of Frederick Douglass and T. Thomas Fortune across generations and geography will be shared February 8, 2020 at the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation and Cultural Center. See you soon!

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Brief note on radical abolitionists and UGRR conductors Rev. Leonard A. Grimes (1815 – 1873) & Frederick Douglass

A plaque at 22nd & H Street NW recognizes Rev. Grimes. Photo by author.

At the northeast corner of 22nd & H Street NW, within the campus of George Washington University, rests a plaque recognizing Rev. Leonard A. Grimes, an abolitionist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and confidant of Frederick Douglass.

In 2007 the plaque was installed to recognize the corner as being the residence of Rev. Grimes from 1836 to 1846.

According to the National Park Service:

“[Grimes] became a hackman in the District of Columbia and discovered that his profession provided the perfect cover for such illegal activity. He contributed to an unknown number of escapes before he was finally arrested and convicted,”

Reverend Leonard Grimes, abolitionist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, and first pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church ("The Fugitives Church"), Boston) - G.H. Loomis, cartes de visite, 7 LCCN2017660624 (cropped).jpgFollowing his release from prison in Virginia for aiding fugitive slaves, Grimes moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where the Douglass family was well-known.

During the early 1850s Rev. Grimes played a pivotal role in the fugitive slave case of Anthony Burns, which was a national and international news sensation.

An 1856 account of the case says thusly:

The extradition of Anthony Burns as a fugitive slave was the most memorable case of the kind that has occurred since the adoption of the Federal Constitution. It was memorable for the place and for the time of its occurrence; the place being the ancient and chief seat of Liberty in America, and the time being just the moment when the cause of Liberty bad received a most wicked and crushing blow from the hand of the Federal Government. It was memorable also for the difficulty with which it was accomplished, for the intense popular excitement which it caused, for the unexampled expense which it entailed, for the grave questions of law which it involved, for the punishment which it brought down upon the head of the chief actor, and for the political revolution which it drew on.

The Rev. L. A. Grimes bore a large share in the transactions here narrated, and I have relied chiefly upon his authority in recounting such matters as came within his personal cognizance.

Rev. Grimes and Frederick Douglass shared the same cause and united in the same spaces several times before Grimes passed in 1873.


“Emancipation Day in Boston.” The Liberator, 16 January, 1863. p 4.

In January of 1863 Douglass and Grimes, as well as countless abolitionists and reformists, shared the stage at Tremont Temple in Boston to recognize the issuance of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Grimes and Douglass, and others, would subsequently activate their networks to advocate for the enlistment of “Colored Troops” in the Union war effort, specifically the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry.

In order to move beyond the limiting mythology and incomplete scholarship that has restrained Douglassonian Studies from developing an infrastructure similar to that which exists for Mark Twain or Abraham Lincoln, we must begin to elevate the networks and associations of all those who worked on the front lines to abolish the institution of slavery and advocate for greater reforms of equality and Civil Rights for all.



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“Frederick Douglass on the Eastern Shore and Cecil County” @ Cecil College – Career & Community Education, Sat., March 7, 2020

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This course explores the local history of Frederick Douglass through the Delmarva Peninsula with special emphasis on Cecil County, Maryland.

Class will offer an introduction to the biography of Frederick Douglass, one of the foremost leaders in the American Abolitionist Movement during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods of the 19th century. Discussions include the extensive travels and visits of Douglass throughout the Delmarva from Salisbury in Wicomico County to Centreville in Queen Anne’s County to Rising Sun in Cecil County.

Topics include consequential visits, connections and influences, religious communities, political and educational leaders, local history, slavery, American
Abolitionist Movement, African American communities in the 19th century, and
development of the transportation infrastructure in Cecil County.

Lecture will be held from 9am – 1pm.
Lunch in Port Deposit from 1:30 – 2:30pm.
Followed by walking tour of Port Deposit.

Students must be physically able to do walking tour for full two hours

Instructor: Muller
1 session, 6.5 hours
$69 persons under 60. $25 MD residents
over 60 (GZH620). $5 Senior Network
Members (SZH620).
Sec# Day Dates Times Location
01D S 3/7 9-1p PE E221
01D* S 3/7 2:30-4:30p Offsite
*01D – Tour of Port Deposit

Spring 2020 Course Schedule: PDF


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“The Radical Friendship of T. Thomas Fortune and Frederick Douglass” (February 8, 2020 in Red Bank, New Jersey)

Image result for thomas fortune house— FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE —
December 19, 2019


Gilda Rogers: gilda.rogers@tthomasfortunefoundation.org / 732.383.5483
John Muller: jmuller@ggwash.org / 202.236.3413 


 The Radical Friendship of T. Thomas Fortune and Frederick Douglass

Saturday, February 8, 2020 

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thomas Fortune Foundation  and Cultural Center 

94 Drs James Parker Boulevard 

Red Bank, New Jersey 07701

Paramount to the study and discussion of the history of American Journalism, and the pantheon of the Black Press, are the careers and contributions of Frederick Douglass and T. Thomas Fortune.

Douglass took an active role mentoring and supporting Timothy Thomas Fortune, forty years his junior, while a law student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in the 1870s. With the development of the first national organization for African-American journalists and editors, Douglass and Fortune worked side by side. Sharing platform stages in cities from Virginia to New Jersey, Douglass and Fortune developed a friendship across generations and geography. In 1892 Fortune visited Cedar Hill, the Washington, D.C. home of Douglass, and wrote one of the most revealing and personal newspaper profiles of the Lion of Anacostia.

Visit the recently opened T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, a National Historic Landmark, to hear locally and internationally known Douglassonian scholar and author John Muller, with thought-provoking detail, present about their their relationship discussed through primary sources, including an 1886 letter in which Fortune wrote to Douglass: “I shall hope always to be remembered among your friends …”

Q&A will follow what promises to be a memorable one-hour presentation.

**Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served availability. While online registration is free, there will be a suggested donation to support ongoing activities and operations of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. ***

$10General Admission / $5 Seniors, Students, Veterans,  Journalists & Teachers

Featured Presenter:

John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (2012) and Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent (2013), has presented widely throughout the DC-Baltimore metropolitan area at venues including the Library of Congress, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Newseum, American Library in Paris, Enoch Pratt Library, DC Public Library, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and local universities. Muller is a frequent guest on Washington, D.C. radio stations and has been cited by the Washington Post, Washington City Paper and other publications for his local history research and subject expertise. He is currently working on a book about the lost history of Frederick Douglass on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Muller has been featured on C-SPAN’s BookTV and C-SPAN’s American History TV, as well as in the pages of the Washington Post, airwaves of NBC4 (Washington) and radio stations WPFW (DC), WAMU (DC), WYPR (Baltimore) and Delmarva Public Radio (Eastern Shore).

For the past decade Muller has contributed hundreds of articles to local and national print and online news sources, including the Washington Informer.


The T. Thomas Fortune Foundation is an organization comprised of concerned citizens from New Jersey, some of whom have been working together since 2008 to bring awareness to the plight of the T. Thomas Fortune House, a National Historic Landmark, located at 94 Drs. James Parker Blvd. in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Over the years, we have held fundraisers, T. Thomas Fortune Symposium, a few “People Speak” events, Fortune birthday celebrations and made many school and public library presentations. 

We are grateful for all the support we have received since the opening of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center on May 30, 2019. We are anticipating Mr. Muller’s presentation to provide a greater historical perspective on the collaborative work and relationship of T. Thomas Fortune and Frederick Douglass. 

For more information on T. Thomas Fortune Foundation and Cultural Center visit: https://www.tthomasfortuneculturalcenter.org/

Facebook Event Registration:


Eventbrite Registration:


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Hager Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University, “FREDERICK DOUGLASS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, AND THE CIVIL WAR”

Hagler Institute For Advanced Study at Texas A&M UniversityDr. Robert Levine will explore the relationship between the African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln. Why did Douglass initially distrust Lincoln? What happened when they met during the Civil War? Why didn’t Lincoln name Douglass the Union Army’s first black officer, despite his initial promise? How did Douglass eventually come to regard what he termed “the white man’s president”? These are among the questions he will take up in the TIAS Eminent Scholar Lecture. By focusing on Douglass’s sometimes conflicting autobiographical writings about his encounters with Lincoln, Dr. Levine will offer a new perspective on a fascinating relationship between two great American leaders.

— AUDIO — 

Editor’s Note:

The University of Maryland, although having a statue of Frederick Douglass on campus and professors such as Prof. Levine, has never connected with the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012).

We are in touch with university administrators as well as retired professors. I’ve never had chance to speak to Mr. Levine but I admire his first book on Douglass and Delany.

It is our opinion his second book, a comparative textual analysis of the biographies of Frederick Douglass, is much ado about not much. It is scholarship in the abstract and not pertinent to our work of returning the history to the community.

Additionally, Prof. Levine, as well as other professors from the Ivory Towers, do not know how to truly read Douglass despite their slicing and dicing and comparing the 1845 telling of a scenario to the 1892 telling of the same scenario.

Time will demonstrate what Prof. Levine, and others, have done or not done to advance and uplift the study of Frederick Douglass.

We prefer the work of historians Benjamin Quarles and Philip Foner as the standards in which to exemplify in Douglass Studies.

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Upcoming Walking Tours – Frederick Douglass & Howard University; Capitol Hill; Frederick City; Old Anacostia & Barry Farm churches [December 2019]

John Muller _ walking tour (3)Upcoming walking tours being led throughout Washington, D.C. and the state of Maryland for the month of November 2019.

Most tours offer *FREE* tickets for local public and college students,

For more information and/or group rates text 202.236.3413.

Frederick Douglass and Howard University

* Saturday, December 7, 2019 — 8:30 AM *


Frederick Douglass Murals in Old Anacostia

 * Sunday, December 8, 2019 — 10:00 AM *

* Saturday, December 21, 2019 — 11:30 AM *


Frederick Douglass in Frederick City

*Saturday, December 14, 2019 — 8:30 AM & 4: 15 PM –*

Local Author Showcase – C. Burr Artz Library – Frederick City 

*Saturday, December 14, 2019 — 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM*


Frederick Douglass in Capitol Hill

 *Friday, December 20, 2019 @ 5:00 PM –*


Churches of Frederick Douglass in Old Anacostia and Barry Farm

*Saturday, December 21, 2019 @ 9:30 AM–*

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Community Meeting & Project Launch -> Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe [Sat., November 2, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM; *RAIN or SHINE* @13213 Lewistown Road, Queen Anne, Maryland 21657]

The Talbot County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism will be holding a community meeting on Saturday, November 2, 2019 beginning at 2:00 p.m. regarding plans for the future development of the Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe.

13213 Lewistown Road
Queen Anne, Maryland 21657

The purpose of the meeting is to receive input regarding future plans for his park honoring Frederick Douglass.  The design consultant hired by the County, LSG Landscape Architecture, will make a brief presentation and gather input of those in attendance regarding future development of the park.

Please contact Preston Peper, Director of Parks and Recreation at 410-770-8050 with any questions.

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