WATCH: Fells Point Walking Tour w/ Lou Fields

Fells Point Walking Tour Frederick Douglass lived as a slave from 1826 to 1838 in Fells Point. Mr. Fields talked about Mr. Douglass’ life at that time and the related sites.

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Frederick Douglass letter to British preacher Charles Spurgeon, 1887

800px-Charles_Haddon_Spurgeon_by_Alexander_Melville“The Cross, “St. Neots, ” Hunts.,

“July 6, 1887. ”

Dear Mr. Spurgeon,

“While crossing the Atlantic, last September, and looking out upon its proud dashing billows and their varied forms, and thinking of the diversity in the human family, I remarked that ‘we are many as the waves, but we are one as the sea.’ I had never heard this simile before, and thought it was original with me; but, while reading your sermon, published on the 30th June, I noticed that you said, speaking of the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm, ‘Its expressions are many as the waves, but its testimony is one as the sea.’ I am led to ask,—Is this a coincidence ; or have I, unconsciously, borrowed from you, or have you borrowed this formula from me ?

“Through the kindness of a friend, I had the privilege of listening to you a few Sundays ago. It was the realization of an ardent desire born of reading some of your sermons in America, and of what was said to me of you by my friend, Dr. H. L. Wayland, a gentleman to whom I have been much indebted for friendly sympathy and advice while battling with slavery and prejudice in America. ”

Very truly yours,



(1897), pp. 169-195 – PDF

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Lewis Douglass, former employee of Denver Gazette

Courtesy of National Park Service

Courtesy of National Park Service

“The colored printer that is kicking up such a fuss in Washington — Lewis Douglass — was as last year an employee of the Denver Gazette, and was, we believe tabooed by the Denver Typographical Union as a rat.” – Colorado Transcript, May 26, 1869

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Senator Timothy Howe subscribed to the “New National Era”

800px-Timothy_O._Howe_-_Brady-HandyOn Jan. 30, 1871 an annual subscription to the New National Era of $2.50 was paid to editor Fred Douglass on behalf of the office of Wisconsin Senator Timothy Howe.


The Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States for the Second Session of the Forty-Second Congress (GPO, 1872), p. 37.

(Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s first Vice President, also subscribed to the New National Era through the Senate’s newspaper contingency. See p. 38 of cited document.)


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Douglass dined in Anacostia w/ 1st Register of Copyrights, his neighbor

T_Solberg -- LOC“I have frequently met Mr. Solberg in Washington and through him I made the acquaintance of Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of “That Lass o’ Lowrie’s”, and also of the famous negro orator and diplomat, Frederick Douglass. With Solberg I had the honor of taking dinner both with Mrs. Burnett and with Fred Douglass; with the latter at his home in Anacostia, where Solberg then lived.” – Life Story of Rasmus B. Anderson, pg. 252 – 253


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Book Review: “Douglass in His Own Time”

cover _ Douglass in His Own TimeIn a series of books published over the last fifteen years by the University of Iowa Press prominent literary men and women from the 19th century such as Louisa May Alcott, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman have been remembered by those that knew them best; not modern historians but their contemporaries who knew them as they lived.

Joining rank in the collection is Douglass in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates,” ably and succinctly compiled by John Earnest, Chair of the English Department at the University of Delaware.

Douglass in His Own Time is a welcome and timely addition to the truly limited scholarship on Douglass, poised to swell as we approach the bicentennial of his birth in 2018.

In the introduction Earnest offers, “One might say that Douglass is not merely celebrated for his story; he is also contained by it, reduced to the confines of a heroic struggle against slavery and his attainment of a glorious freedom through which he continued his antislavery work. Less a living presence than an inspiring tale, Frederick Douglass remains relatively unknown even to many of those who celebrate his achievements. Douglass in His Own Time offers an introduction to Douglass the man by those who knew him – but even in these writings Douglass can seem elusive, shadowed by the fame that enters every room before him.”

The book includes an introduction, 13 photos and prints (not cited with the most exacting detail or captions), a chronology, 43 unique entries and an index. The recollections span the entirety of Douglass’s life from his early years as a slave at Wye House to his toil as a rising star and agent on the anti-slavery circuit to his controversial second marriage and travels abroad to his waning years as a commencement speaker.

Well-known individuals appear from William Wells Brown to Paul Laurence Dunbar to Elizabeth Cady Stanton alongside lesser-known reformists, journalists and educators such as “Grace Greenwood,Cordelia RayJames McCune Smith, and Kelly Miller. While expansive in its selection it is in no way inclusive of all sources nor does it pledge to be. Absent are reminiscences from any members of Douglass’s family as well as two women, Ida Wells and Mary Church Terrell (as well as her husband Robert H. Terrell), whose activism influenced the direction of 20th century American life.

The range of source material gathered by Earnest demonstrates the many public lives and various activist causes Douglass embraced and embodied over more than a half-century on both sides of the Atlantic and from Massachusetts to Rochester to Washington to Alabalama. Abolitionists, suffragists, editors and members of the church are all appropriately accounted for in this remembrance of Douglass

Any limitations aside, the book promises to be enjoyed by both general Douglassonian and specialists. For those building their Douglass-related library, your collection is not complete unless you have Douglass in His Own Time. 

– JM

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SAVE DATE: April 15 –> Douglassonian Robert Levine speaks on forthcoming book, “Frederick Douglass’s Lives”

MD & FD _ Levine book cover

Robert Levine, Professor of English at the University of Maryland, will give a talk drawing from his forthcoming book, Frederick Douglass’s Lives (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Where: 1957 E Street NW, City View Room (on George Washington University Campus) [Nearest Metro: Farragut West – Blue / Orange]

When: 6PM

About Robert S. Levine:

The impressively prolific Bob Levine has been an influential force in American and African American literature for thirty years, and more recently has contributed important new work to the burgeoning field of hemispheric American literature. His prominent publications, such as 2008’s Dislocating Race and Nation, 1997’s Martin DelanyFrederick Douglassand the Politics of Representative Identity, and 1989’s Conspiracy and Romance: Studies in Brockden Brown, Cooper, Hawthorne, and Melville, cover an array of themes critical to an understanding of 19th-century American literature. In addition, Levine’s numerous scholarly editions of Melville, Hawthorne, Martin Delany, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe have helped restore lesser known works to wider audiences.

Levine is a highly visible figure in literary circles, sitting on the editorial boards of American Literary History, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, serving as General Editor of The Norton Anthology of American Literature, and as editor of numerous volumes of collected criticism, including Hemispheric American Studies (co-edited with Caroline Levander) and The New Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville.  His recent awards include a 2012-13 National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellowship and a 2013-14 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He was recently named a Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M’s Institute for Advanced Study.

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