Frederick Douglass as “The Dark Horse” of politics, says socialite & President Grant’s daughter-in-law Mrs. Ida Marie Honoré Grant

On a recent walking tour I shared some brief insights into the humorous disposition of Frederick Douglass and his fondness to make jokes in public and private settings. On this blog, on occasion over the years, we have shared examples of the humor of Douglass that can be found in his speeches, writings, official government records and newspaper reports.

As cited in a 2003 journal article, “‘He Made Us Laugh Some:’ Frederick Douglass’s Humor,” in Life and Times Douglass wrote, “I have been greatly helped to bear up under unfriendly conditions, too, by a constitutional tendency to see the funny sides of things, which has enabled me to laugh at follies that others would soberly resent.

The account below demonstrates one of the incidents where Douglass could enjoy a joke.


The Dark Horse.

From the Cincinnati Times-Star.

Frederick Douglass often laughed over a witticism of Mrs. Fred Grant’s at his expense, when they met at the Chicago convention of 1888. “I was sitting with Mrs. Grant and her party watching the balloting,” said he to a friend. “To my surprise, one vote was cast for me for President of the United States. It had no sooner been announced by the tellers than Mrs. Grant turned to me, and, with the most charming smile imaginable, said: “You must be the dark horse of this convention, Mr. Douglass.”


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