Archive for April, 2012

JOHN W. VANHOOK, General Produce & Commission Merchant – Dealer in Tobacco and Segars, … Brandy, Whiskey…

Boyd’s City Directory, Washington, DC

John W. Van Hook

General Produce & Commission Merchant,


Butter, Eggs and Cheese, Tobacco and Segars, Champagne, Sherry, Port and Claret Wines, Brandy, Whiskey, Porter, Ale, and Cider

Also, Agent for Quuen’s Royal, Cabinet Champagne



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1880 Census _ “Douglass, F.W. – U.S. Marshal”

1880 US Census

In the 1880 Census we find Frederick Douglass enumerated as “Douglass, F.W.” with his occupation listed as “U.S. Marshal.” Interestingly, he is listed as being 60 years old. He was a couple years older at the time.

Also, we see Anna Murray Douglass enumerated. She is listed as being 55 years old, although she was, in fact, older than her husband by a couple years. Her occupation is listed as “keeping house.” In my thorough review of Boyd’s City Directories we never see mention of Anna. As Mark Greek of the DC Public Library’s Washingtoniana Division said, the City Directories (during Douglass’ Washington years) almost exclusively list men as listings were for property owners.

1880 US Census



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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle eulogizes Frederick Douglass, Feb. 21, 1895

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle took a hard-line on Douglass while he was alive. In death the paper was rather gracious and praiseworthy, with a Brooklyn edginess.

“Frederick Douglass was thrice an American. In his veins ran the blood of three races – the races that owned the land, that found the land, and that developed the land at the bidding of its discoverers: the Indian, the white man and the negro.

The lesson of Douglass’ life is that of self-trust and energetic action. He was a good illustration of what a man may do for himself, his people and his country. With everything [italicized] against him he conquered a place for himself where he was looked up to even by his former enemies. He was not a weak pleader or petitioner, but a man of initiative. It was not because he advanced the interests of the negro that men will honor his memory to-day, but because, by advancing the interests of the negro the level of all manhood, and made the whole world better by living in it.”

Feb. 21, 1895

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Did Frederick Douglass wear his hair after Afro-Franco writer Alexandre Dumas?

In the February 1917 edition of Champion Magazine Richard Greener reflects on his memories of his friendship with Frederick Douglass, revealing that Douglass’ hair style was in tribute to famed writer Alexandre Dumas.

“[Douglass] spoke warmly of his travels abroad; of seeing the elder Dumas in France.
‘Did you ever see a good picture of him?” he asked. [FD]
‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘and I have read after him.’ [Richard Greener]
‘Good. Did you note how he wore his hair?” [FD]
‘Yes, sir, long and conspicuously.” [RG]
‘That is why I imitated him. He was not ashamed of ‘fleecy locks and dark complexion,’ was he? They did not ‘forfeit nature’s claim.'” [FD]


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Champion Magazine, February 1917, “and he was one of us”

Champion Magazine, February 1917

“What would praise of your achievements be but mockery? We can but kneel, – thankful that such a life was created to enrich the pages of our history.”

Thank you to the Library of Congress for finding this volume!


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President Rutherford B. Hayes position on the “Exodusters” (via The Reconstruction Presidents)

I am not going to touch on Douglass’ position on the “Exodusters” but in reading The Reconstruction Presidents this struck me.

“[President] Hayes maintained an interest in the welfare of black Americans, displaying particular interest in education as a means to provide uplift and opportunity. Education, he believed, extended beyond the classroom. Blacks needed to inculcate the values of ‘industry, self-reliance, self-control, economy, [and] thrift.’ Hayes was not so encouraging when it came to the matter of black migration to the Midwest. ‘Stay where you are,’ he told one Florida black educator. ‘It is not best for you to go to the climate of Ohio or Indiana. You are natives of the South and entitled to remain there. I know you are assaulted and bulldozed, but stick. Time the and the North will set you right.’ — pg. 225

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Are you so serious about Frederick Douglass you’d get his image tatted on your arm?

Jay Johnson’s tat of Frederick Douglass.

Meet black memorabilia dealer Jay Johnson of Purcellville, Virginia who runs Soul Source. This weekend I bought an 1828 version of The Columbian Orator from him at the National Black Memorabilia and Collectible Show on the strength that Jay is so serious about Frederick Douglass he has Douglass’ image tattooed on the inside of his right forearm.

As they say, “something serious.”

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Marshal Douglass visits his former master, June 1877

Life is funny, huh man?

In June 1877, Marshal Douglass visited his former master, Captain Thomas Auld on his death bed in St. Michael’s, Talbot County, Maryland. The visit was reported in papers throughout the country.

The Baltimore Sun, June 19, 1877

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“Neither newspapers nor preachers…”

“Neither newspapers nor preachers ever found entrance into the privacy of the family of Frederick Douglass,” wrote Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry, the granddaughter of Frederick Douglass, in 1933 in the Baltimore Afro-American.

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“The Evening Star,” March 17, 1877, The Nomination of Mr. Fred. Douglass; THE NOMINATION CONFIRMED

The Evening Star, March 17, 1877

“The Evening Star,” March 17, 1877

The Nomination of Mr. Fred. Douglass
After the Senate went into executive session this afternoon several unimportant nominations were confirmed, and the case of Frederick Douglass, nominated to be U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia, was taken up. While his confirmation was regarded as doubtful by some, many expressed the opinion that he would get through, it being understood that several southern democratic Senators would vote to confirm him. Among those who spoke in favor of his confirmation was Senator Conkling. He was followed by Senator Whyte, of Md., who gave at length the reasons why he believed Mr. Douglass should not be confirmed. At a quarter past 2 o’clock the Senate was still in executive session on the case of Mr. Douglass.

After a discussion lasting until half past 2 o’clock, the nomination of Mr. Douglass was confirmed by four of five majority. No republican Senator voted against him, and several southern Senators recorded their votes for him.


Courtesy of MLK Library, Washingtoniana Division; Microfilm Scan Pro

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