Photo John Muller.
As the Bicentennial ambles into formation we will begin bringing attention to the intellectual variety and vagaries of life and experience that form the composite Frederick Douglass.
In this space we’ve previously documented Douglass’ time in Paris.
And we kindly share some more previously unknown and heretofore unpublished documentation of Douglass’ 1886 – 1887 European excursion and sojourn. On previous visits to Europe Douglass stayed within the holdings of the British Crown.
While in Paris he made the acquaintance and re-acquaintance of many Americans, including the noted journalist and editor Theodore Tilton. Standing at well above 6 feet tall, Tilton and Douglass, who is thought to have been on the north side of 6 feet tall, must have towered over most of the men they passed as they promenaded.
When Tilton passed in 1907 his friendship and time with Douglass in Paris was noted, in the light and humorous retelling of a touching story.
Called Douglass’ Brother.
“In the maturity of life, with a fuller habit than in youth and with heavy, snow-white hair, Tilton presented a striking figure. When he appeared on the street he was sure to attract attention and excite remark. People who did not know him turned to look after him when he had passed, and asked who he was.
“One day he was walking down the Champs Elysees, in Paris, with Fred Douglass. They were about the same size and Douglass’ white, kinky hair also fell from his head in waves. The two men made a notable pair. In the midst of their walk Tilton was stopped by a gentleman who, with an apology, and true Gallic politeness, begged leave to ask if the other gentlemen was his brother.
Tilton’s heart was warm toward Douglass, and he would have been proud to confess such relationship, but it had to be denied.
An American could not have made the Frenchman’s mistake.”
The Washington Herald, 26 May, 1907