MARSHALL DOUGLASS’ OLD MASTER DEAD. –
The Baltimore American this morning says: – Captain Thomas Auld, so well known as once the owner of Hon. Frederick Douglass – once an Eastern Shore slave boy, now Marshal of the District of Columbia, one of the finest public orators in the United States – died on Sunday last at the residence of his son-in-law, John C. Harper, esq., near St. Michael’s, Talbot county.
Captain Auld was 85 years of age, and had been almost helpless for a long time before he died. He was at one time a merchant in St. Michael’s, was a member of the M.E. Church, was a most excellent man in all the relations of life, and was a kind and indulgent master, when he owned slaves, freeing them all at the early age of 31 years.
In the year 1839, after young Douglass ran away from his slave plantation, Captain Auld received a letter from a gentleman in Canada, asking if he would sell his freedom papers, and offering a liberal sum of money for them. He did not reply to the letter, saying that Douglass would have been free in a few years had he not run away, and now that he has gone, he could stay.
After the passage of the fugitive slave law in 1850, he transferred his supposed right in Douglass to his brother, Mr. Hugh Auld, in Baltimore, who disposed of it to Douglass himself, who was thus relieved of all apprehensions of arrest.
“Marshall Douglass’ Old Master Dead.” Evening Star, 11 February, 1880, p. 4
There are numerous factual errors and speculations within this short news item. However, it is a valuable contemporaneous account.