How we forget in the historic telling and interpretation of Frederick Douglass and his life that he was at heart and orientation — among many other things — a newspaper man. It was in the streets of Baltimore an adolescent enslaved Douglass picked up The Baltimore American and finally got that elusive context clue — what was this “abolition” he kept hearing about– that sparked the intellectual fire that blazed throughout his life.
Until his last days Douglass saw himself as a newspaper man. Although it was more than twenty years since the last edition of The New National Era had emerged from the presses, Douglass has a fondness for that life and supported those who kept the torch burning which he, and a select group of others, had help to ignite decades ago.
The [Indianapolis] Freeman, February 9, 1895
A note as Follows, But a Few Days Since
Cedar Hill, Anacostia, D.C.
January 31, 1895
I do not mean to let the first month of this New Year pass away without the renewal of my subscription to the Freeman. With the thousands of your readers and friends, I continue to look to your columns for words of wisdom and cheer at this stormy period of our existence. I admire the Freeman for its fearless disclosure[?] of wrong in high places as well as [illegible] places – not less than for its manly defense of the principles. Though we may be present in various directions, we have much to be thankful for, and for few things more than for the pen and the liberty to use it. I enclose five dollars, which will apply to my subscription to The Freeman. If I owe more please tell and I will pay up.
Very Truly Yours,