Archive for April, 2018
Why does Yale Professor David Blight say, he wants to “chain [Frederick Douglass] to a chair”? Blight exposes himself as a closet racist. Entire history community liable.
W Street Douglassonians can determine on at least two separate occasions — Harvard Law School in November 2016 and Maryland Historical Society in February 2018 — when Yale Professor David Blight has spoken of hypothetically chaining Frederick Douglass to a chair in order to interrogate him as to his “manipulative” autobiographies.
At Harvard Blight said:
And that’s the first problem that anyone working on Douglass faces. It’s how the autobiography is always in the way of the biographer. The problem with Douglass is that the subject is always in your way. And you’re constantly trying to get around him, through him, over him. Sometimes, you just want to sit on him. You know, chain him to a chair – bad metaphor – and say, “Stop now!” Why don’t you talk about these 100 subjects in your autobiography?
At the Maryland Historical Society Blight said:
I have this imaginary seminar that we’re going to have someday with Douglass and he’s going to be at the end of the table and we’re going to — bad metaphor — but we’re going to chain him to the chair! He can’t get out!
This is sickening. This is dangerous. This statement is calculated, deliberative and manipulative. This is racist.
This is an older white historian from Yale describing, for at least the second time in a public setting, a fantasy (he claims he has had) where he intends to “chain [Frederick Douglass] to the chair!”
That David Blight has masqueraded as a “Douglass Scholar” for decades, speaking at recent events such as “The Future of the African American Past,” represents the oppressive power of “White Man Lies” over the entire American historical industry, let alone the nascent field of Douglassoniana Studies.
The history and life of Dr. Douglass is too sacred to be distorted by racists, liars and used car salesman-types.
Special thanks to Marsha Andrews from Flint, Michigan. She recently contacted me on Facebook to defend David Blight’s racism. This post is because of her inability to tell me any errors in my scholarship.
Liberation Douglassonians discussed effort to open “school in memory of Frederick Douglass in Cape Coast, West Africa,” modern-day Ghana, in 1900
The highest order of Douglassonian is a Liberation Douglassonian.
In recent years a situational and political awareness has emerged as being defined as “woke,” yet for generations scholarship on Frederick Douglass has been in a deep sleep.
Dr. Frederick Augustus Washington (Bailey) Douglass was at the tip of the spear his entire life to liberate the physical, mental, social, economic and political condition of his fellow brothers and sisters in America and around the world.
The liberation movement in which Dr. Douglass enlisted at a young age was an international movement for the liberation of African peoples throughout the country and the world. Douglass was and is more than what has been told by historians. The truth has yet been told.
The activist causes Douglass undertook in his life were reported throughout Africa for more than a half-century.
Before Dr. Douglass stepped foot on the continent his life and respected contributions to the liberation movement were well-known. While in Egypt he visited university.
Without dispute Dr. Douglass is America’s Pharaoh.
As evidence, a couple years after his death a nascent movement was discussed to bring a school to modern-day Ghana bearing the namesake of Dr. Douglass.
The mayor of the city of Rochester, a rising star in state politics, and an African minister who authored a brochure to advance an alternative interpretation of the continent than offered by white ethnographer and author Mary Kingsley spoke to advance the cause.
By the time of his death Rev. Hayford had helped organize dozens of churches in Afric a.
Dr. Douglass, America’s Pharaoh, initiated the African education movement of liberation through every word he spoke, wrote and published. This is an old movement in need of rejuvenation, revitalization and rebirth.
We are in need of One Million Abolitionists, One Million Scholars, One Million Liberation Douglassonians!
ROCHESTER, N. Y. – Efforts are making to found a school in memory of Frederick Douglass in Cape Coast, West Africa. Relative to the proposed enterprise a meeting was held in this city recently. The speakers included Mayor Carnahan and Rev. Mark C. Hayford, the latter of West Africa, who is visiting this country in the interest of African education.
Militant Douglass scholarship will continue. Just getting started.
The School Journal, Vol. 61. October 6, 1900, p. 331.
Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Higher Education: University of Rochester Edition, Pt. 4 [Letter, June 1879, from Frederick Douglass thanking citizens and friends of Rochester, President of University of Rochester for installing marble bust in Sibley Hall]
When the University of Rochester unveiled the long anticipated marble bust of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass by local artist Johnson Mundy on its campus in June 1879 the man being celebrated was not in attendance.
To recognize the University of Rochester, President Anderson and his friends and associates in Rochester who had commissioned the work and organized the effort Douglass sent a timely letter to confidant Samuel Porter.
The below article and letter from Dr. Douglass was contemporaneously published by the Democrat and Chronicle and re-printed by fellow Rochester newspapers.
Additionally, Douglass thought the statue consequential and important enough to mention in Life and Times.
It will be remembered that a bust of Frederick Douglass was recently placed in Sibley Hall, of the University of Rochester. The ceremonies were quite informal – too informal, we think, as commemorating a deserved tribute from the people of Rochester to one who will always ranks as among her most distinguished citizen. Mr. Douglass himself was not notified officially of the event and therefore could in no public manner take notice of it. He was, however, informed privately of it, and responded most happily, as will be seen by the following letter which we are permitted to publish: –
Washington, D.C., June 25, 1879
My dear Sir, – I am extremely obliged to you for your kind and timely letter which came this morning, for it was a relief from a real cause of embarrassment.
When I first read of the formal unveiling and the presentation of my bust to the city of Rochester, the speeches made on the occasion by imminent gentlemen, – notably the remarks of Dr. Anderson, the honored President of Rochester University, an institution which has done so much to make the name of the city illustrious, – I felt an almost irrepressible impulse to do or say something out of the common way to some one of my old friends and fellow-citizens, which should express however crudely, something of the grateful sentiment stirred in my breast by this distinguished honor.
But as no one of the respected gentlemen active in the procurement of the testimonial said anything to me about it, and treated me as if I were out of the world, as all men should be when they are once reduced to marble, I began at last to think that silence on my part was perhaps the best way to the properties of the occasion.
Now, however, I am relieved. You have made it easy for me to speak to express my earnest acknowledgements to the committee of the gentlemen having this matter in charge and who have conducted it to completion.
Incidents of this character in my life do much amaze me. It is not, however, the height to which I have risen, but the depth from which I have come, that most amazes me.
It seems only a little while ago, when a child, I might have been fighting with old “Nep,” my mother’s dog, for a small share of the few crumbs that fell from the kitchen table; when I slept on the hearth, covering my feet from the cold with warm ashes and my head with a corn bag; only a little while ago, dragged to prison to be sold to the highest bidder, exposed for sale like a beast of burden; later on, put out to live with Covey, the negro breaker; beaten and almost broken in spirit, having little hope either for myself or my race; yet here I am alive and active, and with my race, enjoying citizenship in the freest and prospectively the most powerful nation on the globe.
In addition to this, you and your friends, while I am yet alive have thought it worth while to preserve my features in marble and to place them in your most honored institution of learning, to be viewed by present and future generations of men.
I know not, my friend, how to thank you, for this distinguished honor.
My attachment to Rochester, my home for more than a quarter of a century, will endure with my life.
Very gratefully and truly yours,
“FREDERICK DOUGLASS,” June 28, 1879, Democrat and Chronicle, p. 2
The Frederick Douglass Project by Solas Nua opens May 10 – May 24 (10 shows) — A site-specific play staged on a wharf in DC’s Southeast Waterfront
For the first time in DC history, Solas Nua will bring a theatre production to The Yards Marina. Situated on the Anacostia River, this site-specific play is just a stone’s throw away from Douglass’ historic home at Cedar Hill.
Staged on a pier at the Marina, this world premiere musical was commissioned by Solas Nua to commemorate Frederick Douglass’ 1845 voyage to Ireland and the bicentennial of his birth. The production will feature live music, hip hop, and dancing in an innovative blend of African American and Irish culture.
The Frederick Douglass Project consists of two short plays. An Eloquent Fugitive Slave Flees to Ireland by African-American writer and local theatre star Psalmayene 24, and Wild Notes by award-winning Irish playwright Deirdre Kinahan, giving audiences a dual perspective on Douglass’ experience in Ireland.
This production is proud to be supported by The Irish Embassy, The DC Commission for Arts & Humanities, and the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation.
The Yards Marina
1492 4th Street Southeast
Washington, DC 20003
As this is a live event all ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.
General Samuel Smith, Mayor of Baltimore during Frederick Bailey’s flight to freedom, served as Vice President of founding of Maryland Colonization Society
Coming up running corners, alleys and the market square with the Point Boys, by the fall of 1838 the intellectually defiant, rebellious spirit of Frederick Bailey, known to leaders in both the white and free black community, got ghost.
On the 3rd of September 1838 General Samuel Smith, a veteran of the War of 1812, United States Congress and United States Senate, served as Mayor of Baltimore City.
Dickson Preston’s groundbreaking and influential Young Frederick Douglass is the only book which gives substantial attention to Fells Point. McFeely captures an especially interesting story from Fells Point folklore that survived nearly 150 years.
Has any Douglass scholar looked into the political climate of Baltimore City from 1820 until 1840?
I do not know but I can’t recall ever reading about the Mayor and City Council in existing Douglass Studies literature — specifically General Smith who in 1827 served as a founding Vice President to the Maryland Colonization Society, an auxiliary of the American Colonization Society.
While living in Fells Point the teenage Bailey had a connection with a Justice of the Peace who also served as an elector in municipal and statewide elections.
I won’t get into speculative and vacuous psychological scholarship to explain that this association Bailey had was important.
Prof. Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry: Confederate General heard Frederick Douglass while student at Harvard Law & arranged $500 donation to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in 1883
The only means in which to wage battle against the local, national and international oligarchy that exists to dumb down, simplify, exploit, speculate, manipulate and lie on Dr. Frederick Douglass is with militant scholarship.
The alleged scholars have little to no scholarship. This we know and their day of recompense with the historical investigatory tradition of Holland, Gregory, Quarles, Foner, Blassingame and Preston will be upon us if, and when, a new generation of Douglassonian scholars emerge.
Until they do I will provide facts and information found nowhere else, which in all likelihood will be shared elsewhere without attribution. It has happened before and will continue until the condition of Douglass Studies changes.
With that, how many Douglass scholars and experts are familiar with the connection Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry had with both Douglass and Booker T. Washington?
While a student at Harvard Law School Curry, reportedly, heard lectures in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area given by radical editor William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist-agitator Wendell Phillips, statesman-historian George Bancroft, Rufus Choate, former President John Quincy Adams, statesman Daniel Webster and
educators Henry Barnard and Horace Mann.
Curry also heard a young Frederick Douglass orate.
After serving in Congress and serving as a general for the Confederacy Curry became an advocate for education throughout the South. In Curry’s position as agent of the Peabody Education Fund he arranged for a donation of $500 to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in 1883.
In the front matter of Washington’s 1901 autobiography a portrait of Frederick Douglass is followed on the subsequent page with a portrait of Curry.
In fact, Curry offers the introductory letter to Washington’s lesser-cited biographical work, which reads:
I HAVE cheerfully consented to prefix a few words introductory to this autobiography. While I have encouraged its publication, not a sentence has been submitted to my examination. From my intimate acquaintance with the subject, because of my connection with the Peabody and the Slater Education Funds, I am sure the volume has such a strong claim upon the people that no commendation is needed.
The life of Booker T. Washington cannot be written. Incidents of birth, parentage, schooling, early struggles, later triumphs, may be detailed with accuracy, but the life has been so incorporated, transfused, into such a multitude of other lives,–broadening views, exalting ideals, molding character,–that no human being can know its deep and beneficent influence, and no pen can describe it. Few living Americans have made a deeper impression on public opinion, softened or removed so many prejudices, or awakened greater hopefulness in relation to the solution of a problem, encompassed with a thousand difficulties and perplexing the minds of philanthropists and statesmen. His personality is unique, his work has been exceptional, his circle of friendships has constantly widened; his race, through his utterances and labors, has felt an upward tendency, and he himself has been an example of what worth and energy can accomplish and a stimulus to every one of both races, aspiring to a better life and to doing good for others.
It has been said with truth that the race problem requires the patient and wise co-operation of the North and the South, of the white people and the Negroes. It is encouraging to see how one true, wise, prudent, courageous man can contribute far more than many men to the comprehension and settlement of questions which perplex the highest capabilities. Great eras have often revolved around an individual; and, so, in this country, it is singular that, contrary to what pessimists have predicted, a colored man, born a slave, freed by the results of the War, is accomplishing so much toward thorough pacification and good citizenship.
While Mr. Washington has achieved wonders, in his own recognition as a leader and by his thoughtful addresses, his largest work has been the founding and the building up of the Normal and Industrial Institute, at Tuskegee, Alabama. That institution illustrates what can be accomplished under the supervision, control, and teaching of the colored people, and it stands conspicuous for industrial training, for intelligent productive labor, for increased usefulness in agriculture and mechanics, for self- respect and self-support, and for the purification of home- life. A late Circular of the Trustees of Hampton Institute makes the startling statement that “six millions of our Negroes are now living in one. room cabins.” Under such conditions morality and progress are impossible. If the estimate be approximately correct, it enforces the wisdom of Mr. Washington in his earnest crusade against “the one- room cabin”, and is an honorable tribute to the revolution wrought through his students in the communities where they have settled. Every student at Tuskegee, in the proportion of the impression produced by the Principal, becomes a better husband, a better wife, a better citizen, a better man or woman. A series of useful books on the “Great Educators” has been published in England and the United States. While Washington cannot, in learning and philosophy, be ranked with Herbart, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Hopkins, Wayland, Harris, he may be truly classed among those who have wrought grandest results on mind and character.
J. L. M. CURRY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
The Forgotten George Peabody (1795-1869), A Handbook A-Z of the Massachusetts-Born Merchant, London-Based Banker, & Philanthropist: His Life, Influence, and Related People, Places, Events, & Institutions.
Monroe, J. L. M. Education of the Negroes since 1860. 1894
Monroe, J. L. M. The South in Olden Time. 1901
Washington, Booker T. An Autobiography: The Story of My Life and Work. 1901
West, Earle H. “The Peabody Education Fund and Negro Education, 1867-1880.” History of Education Quarterly. Vol. 6, No. 2 (Summer, 1966), pp. 3-21
Dr. Frederick Douglass ran with them all. They all ran with Dr. Frederick Douglass.
William Cooper Nell, Martin Delany, Julia Griffiths, Mary Ann Shadd and others are often identified as editing and/or corresponding for The North Star and/or subsequent publications edited by Douglass but have you heard of Dr. William Henry Johnson?
From his 1900 biography …
During the first year of the Civil War he was the war correspondent of James Redpath’s “Pine and Palm,” published at Boston, Mass. He was first with the Army of the Potomac during the three month’s campaign. He then joined the Burnside expedition and did service in North Carolina. At times he has been the Albany correspondent of Frederick Douglass’ Rochester paper, “The North Star,” the “Christian Recorder,” Philadelphia “The Freeman,” and “The Age,” New York city, and the “State Republican,” Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1892 he published and edited “The Calcium Light,” an independent journal, at Albany, and to-day, at intervals is publishing “The Albany Capital.”
Congratulations Letter from Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to new Howard University President, Rev. Jeremiah Rankin [December 7, 1889]
Port Au Prince, Dec. 7, 1889.
MY DEAR DR. RANKIN: – I congratulate you on your election to the President of Howard University; but have far greater reason to congratulate the University.
You have taken upon you a great labor of love and have made a great sacrifice. It is like you. You could have easily found many positions, with less exacting, and in many respects, more agreeable conditions. Your talents, I might say your character and genius, would open doors on golden hinges before you, but you have chosen a place, though high, yet among the lowly. May heaven bless you, in, and for the choice you have made. Your heart, how should I not know it? is with my poor, persecuted and struggling people, and no man in my range of acquaintances has larger of more helpful powers.
You cannot only teach the letter, but the spirit of Christianity, so much needed in the Capital of our great Republic. I have never become reconciled to your absence from Washington. You had a fixed position among the moral and religious forces of the city, and were a terror to evil-doers. Your trumpet gave no uncertain sound. It was never your misfortune to be misunderstood. Your language was never made to conceal your thought. You said what you meant, and meant what you said. Trimmers took no stock in you. Hence, the true friends of Temperance and of Freedom deeply regretted the day that saw you depart, and are glad that you have returned.
I am glad that there was courage enough in the Trustee Board to call you. I have had some thought of resigning, because of absence from the country, but I am reluctant to do so, especially since you are President of the University.
I should like to continue with the institution to the end.
“Editorial Notes.” ‘President Rankin’s Work …’
Our Day, November – December, 1894. No. 78, p. 583.
Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Higher Education: University of Rochester Edition, Pt. 3 [Rev. Dr. Heman Lincoln Wayland, college president, recalls introducing Douglass to “three presidents of American colleges,” specifically Dr. Martin B. Anderson of University of Rochester]
Address of Rev. Dr. H. L. WAYLAND,
Delivered at The Memorial Meeting,
Held at the Academy Of Music, Philadelphia, Pa.,
on Evening of April 15, 1895.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I cannot look upon the eminent citizen whose name is in every heart this evening, simply as a public man. To me, he was a valuable personal friend.
Forty-two years ago, while I was residing in Rochester, I made his acquaintance, and was captivated by his brilliant and admirable qualities. I had the opportunity of rendering him some slight service, which he, with characteristic generosity, estimated at far more than its real worth.
I had the honor of introducing him to three presidents of American colleges, a circumstance to which he often alluded with pleasure.
In 1854 he was invited to give the annual literary address before what was then Western Reserve College, at Hudson, Ohio, which has since been removed to Cleveland, and largely endowed, and which now bears the name of Adelbert College. It was the first time such an invitation had been given to him, or, I imagine, to any colored man. He naturally felt a good deal of hesitation. I urged him to accept the service. He did so, and, thinking that for a college occasion, something of a scientific turn would be demanded, he selected as his subject “The Claims of the Negro, Ethnologically Considered.”
When he had read what was within his reach on the subject, I asked permission of Dr. Martin B. Anderson, then president of the University of Rochester, an eminent and widely read student of ethnology, to bring Mr. Douglass to his house, that the latter might have the benefit of his great stores of information. The president kindly welcomed him, loaned him books, and afforded him the yet more invaluable inspiration of his personal encouragement.
The address went off well, although Mr. Douglass was fettered by the use of manuscript, to which he was unaccustomed, and probably was not unconscious of his academic audience. He subsequently expressed the opinion that he would nave done better to have spoken upon his great theme, and to have let himself out. One incident in regard to the address I recall. He quoted the opinion of some ethnologist, who claimed that the negro was radically differentiated from the other races, by his small, thin, weak voice. Mr. Douglass made no comment, but simply declaimed this extract from the author in a voice of thunder that made the rafters ring.
Later I was living in Worcester, the heart of the Commonwealth, a community more true to liberty than any other city in America. I fully agree with the sentiments that I have heard uttered by Theodore Parker, that, if you tie a rope ten miles long to the steeple of the Old South Church in Worcester, and use it as a radius, you will include within that circle a higher average, intellectually and morally, than anywhere else on the earth.
Just after the crime of the Dred-Scott decision, I arranged a lecture for Mr. Douglass in the Worcester City Hall, and, for the first time in his history, he was introduced by the Mayor of the city, who presided.
After the lecture, there was a little supper, at which, in addition to Mr. Douglass, the guest of honor, there were present John Brown of Ossawatamie, later of Harper’s Ferry; Hon. Eli Thayer, then Member of Congress; Hon. W. W. Rice, later Member of Congress; Hon. J. N. Walker, present Member of Congress, and other citizens.
Pardon me for these details, which I do not enter into from any personal motive, but simply to introduce an incident which took place twenty years later, while Mr. Douglass was Marshal of the District of Columbia. I called upon him in his office.
His son came into the room, and Mr. Douglass said, “My son, this is Mr. Wayland. Mr. Wayland was a friend to your father at a time when your father needed a friend very much.”
The recollection of these few words, touching in their simplicity, I prize greatly at this hour.
It would be very pleasant to spend the time which your courtesy allows me in eulogizing the virtues of Mr. Douglass. There is little need to speak of his eloquence. Coming upon the platform in a day when Curtis and Sumner and Phillips were speaking, he occupied no second place.
Forty years ago, John G. Palfrey, formerly a professor in Harvard University, from his place in the popular branch of Congress, spoke of Mr. Douglass as speaking and writing the English language “in a manner of which any member might be proud.”
He had the qualifications of a great orator. Eloquence comes from the heart It is true of the orator, as of the poet:
“Men are cradled into poetry by wrong;
They learn in suffering, what they teach in song.”
In order to be eloquent, there must be a great cause, a great experience, a great agony. I can but think it a wonderful adjustment of Providence that in Mr. Douglass were united the burning experience, with the gift of speech. I seem to hear him now, as, looking back to the former condition of himself and those associated with him, he exclaimed, “Oh, the depth, the depth!”
The utterance of these words cost him twenty years of slavery and a half century of sympathy.
Along with his eloquence and his brilliancy, Mr. Douglass united a wisdom, a good sense, a good taste, that never allowed him to go astray. I recall no public man who has made fewer mistakes.
His wisdom, together with his mental independence, was illustrated by his relations to Mr. Garrison and others of the old abolition leaders. They held that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document; that it was, in their own often-quoted language (which I think was printed every week on the first page of the Liberator), “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” They refused to act under the Constitution.
They abjured the exercise of the franchise. They set at naught force and trusted only to moral appeal. But they did use words infinitely sharper than the sword. Mr. Douglass’ early associations were with these men, who are to be honored for their bravery and their fidelity. But in the course of time, with enlarging wisdom, he found himself differing from them, and he was forced to protest against their fundamental principle and against their methods and spirit. He declared that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document, and that it contained resources for the universal establishment of liberty.
Time passed. Under the forms of the Constitution, the great emancipator was elected. A President, constitutionally chosen, signed the Proclamation of Emancipation, and, through the armies of the United States, and under its flag, slavery was annihilated.
A striking feature in the character of Mr. Douglass was the absence of bitterness. He warred against a system, not against man. That was a very touching episode, his visit, late in life, to his old master, from whom, fifty years before, he had run away.
Mr. Douglass had a broad humanity. His sympathies were not confined to the advocacy of any single cause, or the championship of any single class or sex. His voice was enlisted for all who suffered wrong.
It would be pleasant to dwell at length upon the character of our honored friend. But I think we should do injustice to the occasion, if we did not draw from the life that has closed, one or two lessons.
Especially here is an example in inspiration, for the young. I do not know in all history a parallel. Here is a lad — born a slave, not merely a serf, of the same race and color of the master, and belonging to the soil; but bearing upon his brow the indelible problem of his servitude, and of the defenselessness of his mother; liable to be brought to the block at a moment’s notice; knowing law only by the burdens it imposed and the wrongs it inflicted. To teach him the five letters which spell the name of the Redeemer of mankind is a penal offence.
He has no property, no rights, no future. In childhood he sleeps on the floor, in a tow bag, which but partly covers him. He wears by day a single tow garment, and he picks out of the dust the grains of corn which the chickens have left.
You heard him say, not long ago, in this city: “The slave looked at his body, and they told him it belonged to his master; and they told him that his soul belonged to God, and so he had nothing.”
He bore on his own body the marks of the lash, and could not have protected his own sister, his own mother, his own wife, from the vilest profanation. Robbed of everything else, he has a soul, a will, a mind; he has a sense of right and wrong, he has something in him, which, like the magnetic needle, eagerly quivers toward the North, and he dreams of the polar star.
After he had made his way to a land where slavery was forbidden, he was yet under the ban. White workmen would not labor by his side; in the steamboat, in the cars, in the place of amusement, not seldom in the house of worship, be saw or heard or felt the words, “No niggers allowed here!”
This was the man who, later, was the friend of Lincoln, and of Grant and of Sumner; who was chosen elector-at-large for the Empire State; who repeatedly sailed upon national ships, sent upon errands of honor by the nation; who ranked among the authors and orators of America; who was a welcome guest in many of the oldest and proudest homes of Great Britain and of Europe; who, but the other day, was borne to his grave amid universal reverence; whose body lay in state in the city of Rochester, where for a score of years he had resided. The story of his youth, of his manhood, of his age, unite in saying to every young man: “Nothing is impossible to him who wills.” “Would you be held in honor? Make yourself worthy of honor!”
And out of this life, there grows a lesson for every one of us.
We shall have conflicts, obstacles, enemies; and the higher our aims, the more generous our purposes, so much the more formidable the adversaries. We have to contend against the saloon, against the gambling-hell, against the spoils system, against the fraudulent vote, against ignorance, against superstition, against oppression, against race prejudice, against the lynching mob. Not seldom the conflict seems difficult, and success is invisible.
We look at his history; we see the changes and the conquests which were compassed by the duration of a single life; we see the system of slavery, which for generations ruled the country absolutely, and which seemed more enduring than Gibraltar, now a dishonored fact in ancient history. We see an army of dark-hued children going daily to their schools.
We see the colored adorning almost every station and every profession, and we realize that despair, that doubt, is a crime, which not humanity, and hardly God, can forgive.
Dr. Frederick Douglass uplifted on floor of House of Representatives as representative intellect of descendants of ancient Egyptians, source for Greek civilization, and possessing oratorical ability equal to any national legislator. [“The Slave Question.” Speech of Mr. J. G. Palfrey, 26 January, 1848. 30th Congress, 1st Session]
Before his thirtieth birthday Dr. Frederick Douglass was uplifted on the floor of the House of Representatives as a representative intellect of the descendants of ancient Egyptians, the source for Greek civilization, and possessing oratorical ability equal to any national legislator.
In the Bicentennial of the birth of Dr. Douglass it is time to finally tell his life story in full.
For. Once. And. For. All. Times.
The Slave Question.
Speech of Mr. J. G. Palfrey,
In The House of Representatives,
January 28, 1848
On The Political Aspect of the Slave Question.
“… Again; the gentleman urged, to the point, the natural inferiority of the negro race. He has no doubt examined, and knows how to expose, the seeming paradox of those ingenious men who have held that the balance of power was shifted, and the sceptre of the world passed from the colored to the white race, some twenty-four centuries ago, at the capture of Babylon by the Persians; and I presume he decides that question rightly. [Mr. Clingman interrupted, and was understood to say he had referred to the Egyptians, and relied on the formation of the Egyptian skull.]
The gentlemen speaks of the Egyptians. Undoubtedly he has attended to the curious hint in Herodotus, bearing that question. The gentlemen quotes Appian, a writer not commonly in the hands of professed scholars. He is a reader of Polybius, and has weighed his merits and those of the other great masters that department of composition in such exact critical scales as to feel justified in placing him at the head of the list in respect to political sagacity.
He cannot have overlooked that singular passage in so common an author as Herodotus, in which the old chronicler has been thought to say, that the ancient Egyptians, the remote source perhaps of Greek civilization, were woolly-headed negroes. I will not defend that interpretation of his words. But it is no invention of any of your high-flying abolitionists of the present day; it have been received by grave and plodding English and German doctors, who read, and pondered, and smoke, and annotated, long before, such a lusus nature as an American abolitionist was ever heard of.
The gentleman has of course determined the complexion of the great captain of antiquity, the Carthaginian Hannibal, and knows how far it resembled that of the Lybians and Nubians whom he led to twenty years’ triumph over the sharp-peaked eagles of Rome. He sees how to dispose of the phenomenon of the French mullato, Alexandre Dumas, that miracle of prolific genius.
He can show that no stress is to be laid on such a case as that of the American Frederick Douglass, now of Rochester, New York, ten years ago a wretched slave, picking up scraps of leaves of the Bible in the gutters of Baltimore, to teach himself to read, then working three years on the wharves on New Bedford, without a day’s schooling I presume in his life, yet now speaking and writing the English language with a force and eloquence which, I hesitate not to say, would do no discredit to any gentlemen on this floor.
Appendix to The Congressional Globe for the First Session, Thirtieth Congress: Containing Speeches and Important State Papers (Vol. 17). City of Washington, Printed at the Office of Blair & Rives, 1848.
“The Slave Question.” Speech of Mr. J. G. Palfrey, 26 January, 1848.
30th Congress, 1st Session, p. 133 – 137.