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