Posts Tagged 1887
Frederick Douglass and Robert Todd Lincoln reportedly “favored by colored republicans of Washington” for revolutionary Presidential ticket in 1888 election
In preparation for my upcoming presentation on “Frederick Douglass and the Lincoln Family” in memory of Mr. John Elliff and Honorable William Alston-El I took my research to 16th & W Street SE for consultation.
Quiet as kept, in historical discussions and debates with W Street Douglassonians sacred and lost history of Dr. Douglass, respected as an omnipresent spirit and presence on Old Ana corners mural or not, is shared with me.
I have been entrusted by members of the community to share with the world the localized neighborhood history of Dr. Douglass that has been closely guarded and protected from the outside world for more than a century. Respect has to be earned in Old Anacostia.
“Uncle Fred and Uncle Abe’s son were friends,” a W Street Douglassonian told me.
“Yep. Chatter of them making a run for President and Vice President. That’s the untold and unknown history we live with, the underground history, knowing we’ve had to fight for everything we’ve ever earned in a country that said in the founding document we were 3/5 of a human. That is our history. Frederick Douglass is also our history. We don’t know Fred and we need to. Fred did everything he could to uplift us as a people. We tell you so you can tell them.”
Man respect man.
I have respected and admired the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia for many years now.
With all due respect for the invitation and honor of addressing the Lincoln Group on October 16th I had to bring forth street historian scholarship from 16th & W Street SE.
As my friend from W Street shared, in the late 1880s there was speculation of a Republican presidential ticket of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass and Secretary Robert Todd Lincoln.
Without further editorializing — and explanation of my research techniques to the disgraceful “White Man Lies” and “White Woman Lies” collective of David Blight, Leigh Fought, Adam Goodheart, John Stauffer, Kate Larson and others — I provide scholarship emanating from the Master Educators holding street corners in Old Anacostia.
Washington Letter. 
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 1887.
While all is so quiet in politics – this being an off year – it may startle if it does not awe your readers, that a new Presidential ticket and a wonderful combination it is, too, linking as it does two of the great names of the nation, has been launched here in the Capital.
And well may President Cleveland, as he realizes the strength of this “combine” quake in his boots, as he sees his vision of a second term vanish into thin air, for how does he dare to oppose the Presidential aspirations of those men of renown, those eminent statesmen who will favorably compare with the fathers of the Republic – Lincoln and Douglass!
Yes, I repeat it, Robert Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The glorious deed was done at a banquet given to Douglass, the intellectual giant of the negro race, on the anniversary of emancipation day, and though, by a strange coincidence, Robert, the son of his father, happened to be in this city at the same time, I do not know that he is committed to the movement, yet his presence here on such an occasion may be significant.
The “Washington Letter” containing the above anecdote was syndicated in newspapers throughout the South as far as Texas.
In some papers the news item was condensed and boiled down to the base alloy of the possibility of what would have been at the time the most revolutionary presidential ticket in American history.
 “Robert Lincoln and Fred Douglass is the presidential ticket favored by colored republicans of Washington.”
 “Washington Letter” [September 27, 1887], Southern Standard (Tennessee), October 1, 1887, page 5.
 “PERSONAL AND POLITICAL.” Burlington Weekly Free Press (Vermont), September 30, 1887, page 2.
Frederick Douglass as profiled by Jane Marsh Parker [Salt Lake Evening Democrat, April 23, 1887, p. 4.]
“A marked characteristic of Frederick Douglass is his love for music. When but a little fellow he would go up to “the great house” to hear the violin play for the dancers. The fiddler, he says, did not play common airs, but the best music, and while he listened the little yellow boy under the window forgot everything else. Love of music drew him to the Methodist meetings, for the singing was music to him, and he joined in with a will. It was at these meetings he began to speak in public, and discovered how well he could talk and the pleasure in being praised for the same. When a Sunday school exhibition by the free negroes was in prospect he found a chance for exercising his budding oratory. He bought a “speaker” with the “tips” his master had given him for blacking boots, and selected a piece with a plenty of big words – a college oration was wherein expounded what man can by imagination. The words were Greek to him, but he particularly liked rolling out: “He can soar aloft where stars glitter on the mantle of light and a more effulgent sun lights up the blushes or morning.”
Talking with Frederick Douglass one is sometimes inclined to think that, interesting as his autobiography is, it does not contain many of the most interesting experiences of his life, those he once thought, perhaps, insignificant to the public. On his wife’s piano at Cedar Hill you may see the very same music book that he slipped into his bundle when he skipped out of Maryland. It is worth something to see him standing with his violin singing with Mrs. Douglass those old “Seraph” hymns. If you had breakfast with him on a Sunday morning he will pass you with his own hand the Maryland biscuit, and is it not worth knowing that are just like the biscuits “Miss Lucretia” used to give him when half starved he sang under her dining room window? “I used to wish I could have my fill of them, and now I mean to have, you see?”
There was living in Washington a year of so ago an old colored man, who was a fellow slave with “Fred,” as he still calls him. His wife was the daughter of the old fiddler of “the great house.” Hearing them talk together – the recorder of the District of Columbia, and the tender of a furnace in the Capitol – laughing merrily over reminiscences of the plantation, was a unique experience.
“No, I don’t remember anything special that Fred used to do in them days,” said the old man in reply to probing inquiry, “only he jes wouldn’t be put upon and wanted to boss everything.”
Full story available HERE:
Salt Lake Evening Democrat, April 23, 1887, p. 4.
* This story was re-printed in papers throughout the country. *
Jane Marsh Parker was friends with the Douglasses for decades and contributed articles to leading magazines of the late 19th century and early 20th century. She wrote novels as well as histories, including an 1884 book about the history of Rochester, New York which features Frederick Douglass.