Dr. Frederick Douglass was a Marylander; addresses Emancipation Day in Cumberland, Maryland [September 22, 1879]

An an indigenous Eastern Shoreman Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass could rightfully claim identity as a Baltimorean and thus kinship status as a Marylander through and through.

Lost to history have been several return visits Dr. Douglass made to the Shore as well as numerous lifelong relationships he maintained with Marylanders from members of the Lloyd family to abolitionist and educator Emily Edmonson of Montgomery County. Additionally, the speeches and activities of Dr. Douglass throughout the different regions and areas of his native state are widely forgotten in existing scholarship and bicentennial commemorations.

Untold by his own hand and biographers, in September 1879 Dr. Douglass visited the Cumberland Valley, drawing a reported 2,000 whites and blacks to the city of Cumberland from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Western Maryland.

Cumberland Fairgrounds - WCFL

Courtesy of Washington County Free Library, Western Maryland Room

Sharing the stage with former Congressman and Lincoln appointee Henry W. Hoffman, Dr. Douglass spoke to acknowledge September 22nd as Emancipation Day, whereas 17 years before President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

In truth, Dr. Douglass ran with many men, such as Henry O. Wagoner and James W. C. Pennington, who traveled out of underground railroad stations in Western Maryland to freedom. Martin Delany, one of Douglass’ early associates, was indigenous to the Appalachia area.

In the 1880s Dr. Douglass frequently traveled to Harper’s Ferry to attend to his duties as a board member of Storer College.

Known to travel near and far within his home state and throughout the country and world, I’ve confirmed Dr. Douglass spoke in Hagerstown for the benefit of a local church in 1879, about six months before visiting Cumberland in September.

Point is: Dr. Douglass, an Eastern Shoreman by birth and Point Boy by initiation, touched all parts of his native state, including Allegheny and Washington counties in Western Maryland.

It is beyond time to uplift the history and give Dr. Douglass the full recognition he so rightfully deserves as a Marylander.

JM


Frostburg Mining Journal _ 27 Sept 1879 _ p. 3 _ FD in Cumberland _ croppedANNIVERSARY OF EMANCIPATION.

Monday, 22d inst., emancipation day was celebrated in Cumberland with much rejoicing by the colored people, who poured into the city on every train. The procession formed at the Queen City Hotel about half past 12 and marched through the principal streets to the fair grounds where dinner was served and addresses delivered by Hons Frederick Douglass, of Washington, and Henry W. Hoffman, of Cumberland, and others.

Frostburg was fully represented.


SOURCE:

Mining Journal,  “Anniversary of Emancipation.” 27 September, 1879, p. 3

Editor’s Note (1):

Special thanks to reference library and archivist Elizabeth Howe of the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library for the research support.

Editor’s Note (2):

I have been invited to present on “Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland” at the October 1, 2018 meeting of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

Due to a previous commitment I will be unable to present but have made arrangements for the information to be presented on behalf of W Street Douglassonians.

Public Meeting

Monday, October 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM (Washington County)

Hagerstown Community College

111400 Robinwood Drive

Career Programs Building Rooms 211 & 213

Hagerstown, MD 21742

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