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.

SOURCE:

“Editorial Notes.” ‘President Rankin’s Work …’

Our Day, November – December, 1894. No. 78, p. 583.

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