“Frederick Douglass and the Civil War,” Thurs, July 19, 2018 @ 7pm (African American Civil War Museum – FREE)
After the Civil War, Frederick Douglass argued that to maintain their rights and their liberty, black Americans must have access to three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.
What did he mean by that? Was his demand heard? What does any of that have to teach us today?
Find out Thursday evening July 19, 2018 as top scholars and expert historians discuss Douglass’s activism and the voting rights legacy of the United States Colored Troops
Thursday, July 19, 2018
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
1925 Vermont Avenue NW
(Green line U Street Metro)
Featuring David Blight, Asa Gordon, Gloria Browne-Marshall and Frank Smith
Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Youth Conference — Youth, ages 13-18, join Banneker-Douglass Museum on Friday, July 27 _ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm _ FREE (Open to DC-area youth and educators)
This conference is a unique opportunity for youth to celebrate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, while preparing them to become active and engaged members of an ever-changing global society.
Calling all youth, ages 13-18! Come join Banneker-Douglass Museum and RETAP Baltimore on Friday July 27, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm for the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Youth Conference.
The conference is open to DC-area youth and educators!
84 Franklin Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
“Five Hundred Years Hence Rochester’s Chief Title to Historic Fame Will be The Fact That It Was the Home of Douglass,” [“Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.” Union and Advertiser, August 25, 1866]
As the Bicentennial marches on I have ventured afield from W Street SE across the Chesapeake to the Shore, up the road to Baltimore and further north to Rochester, New York to do what little I can to uplift fallen and unknown history.
To say the least, the largely indifferent attitude I have encountered in contemporary Rochester to the history of Douglass in that city seems to be the continuation of a longstanding history of indifference.
Without further editorializing or ado …
Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.
“Five hundred years hence,” said Thompson the noted English agitator in Corinthian Hall some fifteen years ago – “five hundred years hence Rochester’s chief title to historic fame will be the fact that it was the home of Douglass.”
Yet while such is the high appreciation of Fred. Douglass by the Radicals and Abolitionists of foreign lands, the Radicals of Rochester regard him in no other light than a tool to be used to get votes for the “white trash” who control the Radical party, and carry off its officers and its honors.
The Radical party profess to go for Political Equality between Blacks and Whites. They propose to force Negro Equality upon the South at any cost – even that of another Civil War, if milder “persuasives” prove unavailing. But, while they hold that attitude before this country and the whole Christian world, they practically repudiate their avowed principles here where they have the power and the opportunity to assert them, and to illustrate their devotion to the Black race, by doing honor to its most distinguished representative.
Frederick Douglass is unquestionably a man of a higher order of talent. His moral character is unimpeachable. His is in our judgement the ablest and most accomplished man which the Black and mixed races have produced on this continent. If any man of his color ever was or ever will be entitles to a seat in Congress and full recognition of his Equality with the White race, assuredly he is that man.
Here he is, in a District overwhelmingly “Black Republican:” yet he is denied a nomination to Congress; denied a seat in the Radical State Convention; denied a seat in the Radical Conventions to nominate candidates for Congress and other offices, and turned off with the empty honor of going to Philadelphia to make votes for the “white trash” whom the Radicals of the District select for every really desirable place.
Will not the Tribune and Independent rebuke their fellow-partisans here their selfishness and insincerity?
Will they compare the sentiments of Mr. Hart, as set forth in his own language in another article, with the treatment of Mr. Douglass by Mr. Hart and his friends, and tell their readers what they think of such arrant hypocrisy and imposture?
“Fred. Douglass – Insincerity of the Radicals.” Union and Advertiser, August 25, 1866, p. 3.
“The Maryland Justice: Containing Approved Forms for the Use of Justices of the Peace of the State of Maryland: With a Compilation of the Acts of the General Assembly Relating to their Office and Jurisdiction, and to the Office and Duties of Constable.” (1825)
On a recent visit to the Maryland Historical Society we were kindly assisted by legendary reference librarian Francis O’Neal and support staff in discovering documents which are meticulously allowing for the careful construction of who was the radical book seller and Justice of the Peace Nathaniel Knight.
All images are courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society.
Cummins, Ebenezer Harlow. The Maryland Justice: Containing Approved Forms for the Use of Justices of the Peace of the State of Maryland; With a Compilation of the Acts of the General Assembly Relating to their Office and Jurisdiction, and to the Office and Duties of Constable. Baltimore: Printed by Benjamin Edes, 1825.
In the course of exploring archival collections and canvassing the community I was often told the connection between Frederick Douglass and his children to the Barry Farm / Hillsdale neighborhood was more intimate than explained in the existing bibliography of Douglass Studies.
To investigate the association a number of sources were consulted including city directories, Census records, The Anacostia Story: 1608 – 1930 and government documents.
For the Lion of Anacostia I did not have a chance to fully explore several leads I received and expand upon the contents of letters between Charles and his father that document the happenings and growth of the new community.
From what I discovered and what is reflected in the existing contemporary record of Barry Farm it is beyond speculation and question that Charles Douglass was an educator in the early Barry Farm / Hillsdale community.
Before the consolidation of city and county schools, Charles R. Douglass ([third*] son of Frederick Douglass) served as secretary and treasurer of the county board of trustees, and as a school trustee, from 1871 to 1874.
It was in the latter position that Charles Douglass was instrumental in securing the first appointment of colored teachers in the county, and it was largely through his efforts that the equalization of pay for black women teachers was accomplished.
[*Original text says “second son” while Charles was the “third son.” Thank you to a member of the Douglass family for the close copy edit.]
District 7, No. 2 – The Howard schools. – The Barry Farm, comprising about 375 acres, adjoining the estate of the St. Elizabeth Insane Asylum, south of the Eastern Branch, was purchased in the early part of 1868, by the Freedmen’s Bureau. It was divided into house lots of one acre each and offered to the freedmen at cost, the Bureau furnishing each lot owner a portion of the lumber for a house. The payment for the lot was to be made within two years, and in equal monthly installments, with an express stipulation that the lot is forfeited by failure to comply with these terms.
The estate was purchased with funds which the Freedmen’s Bureau, in pursuance of an act of Congress, March 2, 1867, deposited in the hands of three trustees for that purpose. The object of establishing such a fund was, as expressed in the special order of the Bureau, “to relieve the immediate necessities of a class of poor colored people in the District of Columbia by rental of land by sale, with deferred payments, or in such other way as their trustees judgement shall direct for this purpose, provided all proceeds, interest, or moneys received from rental or sale over and above necessary expenses shall be annually transferred” to said institutions.
The trustees are O. O. Howard, John R. Elvans, and S. C. Pomeroy, and they paid for the farm $52,000. The estate made 359 lots, of which 300 had been sold prior to October 1868, and 40 of these had been forfeited. The lumber for 185 houses had been at that date issued by the Bureau and the most of the dwellings built. The enterprise, designed to stimulate these poor people with courage and industrious habits, has proved eminently successful.
The freedmen have entered with great ambition into the idea of securing a home, and have formed on this farm an enterprising, industrious village. They have built a Baptist Church, and have purchased the lot upon which they are about to build a Methodist church. They also bought one of the acre lots upon which the Bureau erected in the closing months of 1867, a large one story school house, at a cost of some $1,500, about 75 feet long and 25 wide, comprising two excellent school rooms and capable of accommodating sixty scholars, with the requisite ante-rooms.
There is also a flourishing night school in operation, for some time under the instruction of Charles Douglass, a son of Frederick Douglass. The proceeds of this property are to go ultimately to the colored schools of the District, of Virginia, and of North Carolina, one third part to each.
The complex and various lives of the Douglass children has yet to receive much scholarly attention and investigation. It is our understanding Prof. Ezra Greenspan, author of William Wells Brown: An African American Life, is working on a book about the children and family of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass. The forthcoming scholarship will be well received as an important addition to the field of Douglass Studies.
In limited research I’ve come across fleeting references and source material related to the community leadership of Charles Douglass. For example, Charles wrote to President Grant advocating federal recognition of April 16 as the anniversary of the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act. Today, April 16 is a District holiday.
In future posts we will explore the role of Charles Douglass as an educator in Barry Farm and after many-a-years-delay investigate the location and a potential oral history account of the school in which Charles was an instructor.
To be continued …
Thank you to The Seymours of St. Michaels, Maryland for uplifting local history and Douglassonianism
The Seymours, legends in the study and promotion of local history, were kind enough to welcome myself, Honorable Tarence Bailey and Mrs. Kate Fones of the St. Michaels Museum to their home to discuss all matters of Douglassonianism and the Shore.
Mr. George A. Seymour is the author of a local guide to Douglass (Bailey) sites in and around St. Michaels. Additionally, word on the street is the young man in his early 90s was a leading force for having Route 33 renamed for Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass.
Mr. Seymour is not just a St. Michaels Douglassonian, he is a radical Douglassonian in the spirit of Dickson J. Preston.
Thank you for all the work you have done to uplift history and generosity in sharing it with the public.
For more information on this project led by University of Maryland Professor Mark Leone please see the below links.
“In Easton, archaeologists hope to uncover earliest free African-American settlement,” Baltimore Sun, July 25, 2013