Posts Tagged Baltimore
“Black Reconstruction and its Legacies in Baltimore, 1865-1920” (October 3, 2019 @ Red Emma’s Bookstore & October 4, 2019 @ Union Baptist Church on Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland)
In A Brotherhood of Liberty, Dennis Patrick Halpin shifts the focus of the black freedom struggle from the Deep South to argue that Baltimore is key to understanding the trajectory of civil rights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1870s and early 1880s, a dynamic group of black political leaders migrated to Baltimore from rural Virginia and Maryland. These activists, mostly former slaves who subsequently trained in the ministry, pushed Baltimore to fulfill Reconstruction’s promise of racial equality. In doing so, they were part of a larger effort among African Americans to create new forms of black politics by founding churches, starting businesses, establishing community centers, and creating newspapers.
Black Baltimoreans successfully challenged Jim Crow regulations on public transit, in the courts, in the voting booth, and on the streets of residential neighborhoods. They formed some of the nation’s earliest civil rights organizations, including the United Mutual Brotherhood of Liberty, to define their own freedom in the period after the Civil War.
Halpin shows how black Baltimoreans’ successes prompted segregationists to reformulate their tactics. He examines how segregationists countered activists’ victories by using Progressive Era concerns over urban order and corruption to criminalize and disenfranchise African Americans. Indeed, he argues the Progressive Era was crucial in establishing the racialized carceral state of the twentieth-century United States.
Tracing the civil rights victories scored by black Baltimoreans that inspired activists throughout the nation and subsequent generations, A Brotherhood of Liberty highlights the strategies that can continue to be useful today, as well as the challenges that may be faced.
Author Dennis Patrick Halpin teaches history at Virginia Tech.
*Reverend Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr. is the 10th pastor of Union Baptist Church and will be reportedly be in attendance at both events below.
October 4, 2019 @ 6 PM
Union Baptist Church
1219 Druid Hill Avenue
“Frederick Douglass walking tour highlights the history of Baltimore,” (Johns Hopkins News-Letter, September 12, 2019)
Frederick Douglass walking tour highlights the history of Baltimore
John Muller, a local historian and author, organized and led a walking tour titled “The Lost History of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore, 1824-1895” on Friday. The tour departed from the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, and highlighted various locations in Fell’s Point that Douglass frequented during his time in Baltimore.
The tour’s emphasis on Baltimore’s history and Douglass’ relationship to the city helped attract students. Junior Bonnie Jin said that she participated in the tour because she was curious about the history of Baltimore.“I was really interested in Baltimore history, and I felt like I needed to learn more, especially about African American history, which is oftentimes overlooked,” she said. “It’s interesting to compare the history of Baltimore with the history of Boston, which is where I’m from, especially in regards to the abolition movement.”
The tour first stopped on Thames Street. Muller explained that Frederick Douglass first came to Baltimore when he was around eight or nine years old, enslaved to former Maryland Governor Hugh Auld.[*]
Muller began by describing Douglass as a child. He explained that Douglass was the playmate of Auld’s son, Thomas Auld, and as a result, spent a lot of time with a gang of Irish kids called the Fell’s Point Boys.
“Douglass is a very sophisticated person. He was the friend of the governor’s son, but he also could run the streets,” Muller said. “In the movie Glory, he’s portrayed as very stoic and stiff. Frederick Douglass was not stoic and stiff. He’s a very easygoing free-flowing person.”
Muller then pointed out 28 Thames St., where Nathaniel Knight, a bookseller, sold Douglass the first book he ever owned, a copy of The Columbian Orator.
At the time, Knight was a justice of the peace in Maryland, a role in the state judiciary.
Muller explained the risk that Douglass took when buying the book.
“Douglass buys [The Columbian Orator], which at that time, of course, is an illegal action,” he said. “This means that when Douglass is buying this book, the person he’s buying it from is trusted, confirmed by the senate of Annapolis, to enforce the various laws [of a justice of the peace].”
The tour then turned onto Bond Street. Muller shared another anecdote from Douglass’ life, explaining that in the 1830s, financial instability in Baltimore led to tensions between Irish and free black and enslaved workers. Muller said that Frederick Douglass was assaulted by a white dock worker, and Hugh Auld sought redress in court, going to see a lawyer on Bond Street. But the law at the time did not allow Frederick Douglass, an enslaved person, to speak in court, and did not allow anyone of African descent to bear witness.
Next, the group stopped on Dallas Street, formerly known as Strawberry Alley. When he was still enslaved to Hugh Auld, Frederick Douglass worshiped at a Methodist church on Strawberry Alley, Muller pointed out.
“When Methodism is formed as a religious denomination in America in 1784, one of the stipulations is that you cannot be a member in good standing in the Methodist church if you own slaves,” he said. “[Douglass] attended services here [on Dallas Street] at Strawberry Alley Methodist Church.”
In 1892, Douglass bought property on Strawberry Alley. He reopened the church, which had since closed, and built five homes. Muller noted that throughout his lifetime, Douglass invested in various other properties.
“He never attended a single day of formal school in his life, yet he had an in-depth, complex understanding of economics. He was an investor in real estate in Rochester, [Washington, D.C. and] Baltimore,” Muller said.
He elaborated on the benefit that Douglass’ purchase of the properties on Strawberry Alley had on the Baltimore community.
“When Douglass is building these homes, they are going to be open to all nationalities, with potentially a preference for blacksmiths, carpenters, educators from this community… Just like today, Baltimore has housing issues. Frederick Douglass didn’t just stand on the sidelines. He put his money where his mouth was and opened these properties,” Muller said. “Frederick Douglass gave back to his community.”
Vrshank Ravi, class of 2019, said that he was particularly interested in Muller’s stories about Douglass’ involvement in real estate.
Muller added that Frederick Douglass taught night school on Dallas Street, and explained that he was very involved in the Baltimore school system. “I was like, ‘how did that work back then?’ Especially because Baltimore and real estate, and the whole history of redlining and more modern problems,” he said. “I do a lot of work on urban economics and that really stood out to me.”
“In Baltimore, Frederick Douglass advocated one, that black children should be taught by black teachers, and two, that black teachers should receive equal pay,” he said.
Towards the end of the tour, Muller discussed Douglass’ political views.
“Frederick Douglass was very much a committed Republican, and it’s very important to understand the context of political patronage and how he used his connections within the system to help out African Americans, which, historians have not really told that story,” he said.
Muller clarified that Douglass was still an ardent abolitionist, who believed that political agitation was necessary to create change.
To illustrate his point, Muller told the story of Douglass once publicly refusing to shake hands with Baltimore Chief of Police and former Confederate Cavalry Officer Harry S. Gilmor.
“Frederick Douglass has that visceral vision, that prophesy. He understands that political agitation is the one way to make change,” he said. “He does not serve in the Civil War, but he essentially served in the abolitionist war.”
Like Jin, Ravi also appreciated the fact that Muller focused on aspects of Douglass’ life which are often overlooked by historians.
“There’s a lot of stories that aren’t told or are told wrong, and getting original research is really difficult,” he said. “It made me wish I took more history at Hopkins.”
Jin also said that she appreciated the situated context of the tour, since they walked around the locations of importance.
“We were walking along the same place that so many historical things were happening,” she said. “Him telling the story, added on with the fact that we were walking through, it made it really vivid for me.”
Lion of Anacostia Editor’s Note:
I left the article in tact, as it appears online, but there are one or two corrections.
* Such as, before arriving in Baltimore to the Hugh Auld household Frederick Bailey had been a playmate of Daniel Lloyd, the youngest son of former Governor and United States Senator Edward Lloyd V.
Note on Rev. Dr. Pharaoh Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglass among contemporary men of God -> “The Late Bishop Payne. A Monument in His Honor Unveiled at Baltimore.” (May 1894)
Coming up out an African Methodist church erected in a Fell’s Point alley following American Independence Pharaoh Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglass emerged within ranks of the most consequential religious leaders of America’s antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
Among the most respected of America’s African-American reverends and educators who travelled the world establishing outposts of the church and their compensatory schools Pharaoh Douglass was always offered opportunity to teach Sunday school and Bible study, a tradition he maintained from his days in St. Michaels in the 1830s until his last day on earth.
Throughout his life Rev. Dr. Pharoah Douglass ran and prayed from country camp revivals to town and city street corners to the lecture stages and halls of universities among white and black faith leaders within circles of African Methodists, Methodist Episcopalians, Baptists, Protestants, Congregationalists, Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, Hebrews and Mohammedans.
Rev. Dr. Pharoah Douglass aided men of God building institutions that maintain today as men of God enlisted the aid of Rev. Dr. Pharoah Douglass building, developing, and guarding institutions furthering faith and education.
Along with the early founders of Howard University, in which Dr. Rev. Pharaoh Douglass served as a board member from 1871 until his death, men of God who aided in founding Morgan State University in Baltimore City and American University in Washington, D.C. ran with Rev. Dr. Pharoah Douglass.
In May 1894 Bishop John Fletcher Hurst and Reverend Lyttleton Morgan joined arms in brotherly remembrance and honor with Dr. Douglass, Bishop Alexander Wayman, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, Rev. Dr. John W. E. Bowen and other men of God to remember the late Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne.
Despite numerous accolades and laudatory reviews, David Blight’s deeply flawed Prophet of Freedom fails to place Douglass within this vast network of men of God.
Therefore Blight’s singular reference to Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne in Prophet of Freedom is blasphemous.
THE LATE BISHOP PAYNE.
A Monument in His Honor Unveiled at Baltimore.
The monument to the memory of the late Bishop Daniel A. Payne, D. D., LL. D., who was the senior bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was unveiled yesterday afternoon at Laurel Cemetery, in the northeastern suburbs of Baltimore, in the presence of a large number of colored people.
The exercises included addresses by Rev. Dr. J. H. A. Johnson of Ellicott City, Frederick Douglass and Rev. Dr. W. B. Derrick of New York, and prayer by Rev. Dr. L. F. Morgan, prior to the unveiling by Bishop H. M. Turner, D. D., of Georgia.
Rev. John Hurt read the names of the contributors to the monument fund and Rev. J. G. Morris, D. D., closed the services by pronouncing the benediction. On the stand, besides the above, were Bishop W. J. Gaines, D. D., Bishop J. A. Hunter of Kansas, Bishop M. B. Salters of South Carolina, Bishop A. W. Wayman, Rev. J. M. Bowen and others.
Evening Star, 22 May, 1894, p. 9.
John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C., and Ida Jones, archivist at Morgan State University, presented new research on Frederick Douglass at the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Thursday, Feb. 28. The research centered around Douglass’ experiences as a young man in Baltimore and sought to fill in narrative holes regarding his life.
Douglass is known for his work on abolitionism, social reform and literary works. He was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey and later changed his last name to Douglass at the suggestion of a member of the Underground Railroad who had harbored him during his escape from slavery.
Community member Derrick Camper noted that these personal details add to Douglass’ story as a historical figure.
“We always get this one thing about him, just like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X,” Camper said. “But there’s more to him than what you read and see on T.V. There’s a person behind him.”
Muller and Jones’ research focused on other aspects of Douglass’ personal life, particularly his formative years in Baltimore. In his presentation, Muller told a story about Douglass’ purchase of a book in Baltimore, an event that may have been a catalyst for his later activism.
“When Douglass is about 12 years old, he buys the book The Columbian Orator. The Columbian Orator was a collection of essays and a very popular schoolbook of its day. There is a dialogue between a master and a slave in The Columbian Orator. Douglass talks extensively of how this book resonated with him and how important it was to his personal history,” he said.
According to Muller, the purchase of this book would not have been possible without the help of a little-known figure named Nathaniel Knight. Briefly mentioned in Douglass’ 1892 autobiography, Knight was a bookseller and prominent community member in the Fell’s Point neighborhood. By selling to books to Douglass, Knight was taking a big risk.
“This guy was breaking the law. Big time breaking the law,” Muller said. “He was a radical bookseller. This is a very radical action… He was supplying the black community with literature and a lot of other things, which he should not have been doing because it was illegal.”
Muller and Jones consider Knight just one of the many forgotten figures in what they call “the lost history of Frederick Douglass.” Jones said that it is necessary to understand the more quotidian aspects of Douglass’ life through his research. According to the researchers, this process has not been easy.
“African-American history has largely been an oral tradition,” Jones said. “Documentary evidence is lacking.”
As a result, scholars have had to rely heavily on Douglass’ autobiographies to study his personal life, which, though insightful, do not provide an all-encompassing chronicle.
However, having pored through many historical documents in their research, Muller and Jones have uncovered new information that adds texture to Douglass’ story.
“I found something in a newspaper from 1917, in which Richard Greener (the first black graduate of Harvard College) recalled a story that Frederick Douglass had told him about why he wore his hair the way he did,” Muller said. “The reason, according to Douglass, was that as a young man, possibly in Baltimore, he saw a picture of Alexander Dumas, the Afro-Franco writer. Douglass was struck by Dumas’ presentation as very unapologetically African, and Douglass adopted that hairstyle for his entire life.”
Jones added that these details and interesting facts bring Douglass’ story to life.
“When you’re able to find the historical records on various people that Douglass interacted with and people who had an influence on Douglass’s life, you get a sense of dimension to Douglass where he’s not only this lofty elder statesman but also a regular person,” Jones said. “He was a teenager. He did run the streets with the Fell’s Point boys. He lived a life similar to our own. It makes him much more relatable.”
Muller clarified that making Douglass more relatable in no way tarnishes his legacy. On the contrary, Muller asserted that by moving past the mythologized version of Douglass, one could begin to examine the tangible impact he had on people of his day. Muller said that Douglass spoke to benefit churches, night schools, scholarship funds and orphanages. For Douglass, it was not only about making grand speeches and writing letters to President Abraham Lincoln but also doing little things to help people in his community.
Jones said that the mythologized version of Douglass remains deeply ingrained in people’s psyche. When asked about what she thought of his legacy, Jones acknowledged this.
“Douglass became a paragon of what’s possible as an African American,” she said. “But maybe that’s not a bad thing. Mythologized figures are essential to how we think of ourselves as Americans. Figures like Douglass inspire us to stand up for what we know is right, whether it be in the fight against racism, sexism, inequality or any other injustice.”
“The Lost History of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore” @ Enoch Pratt Central Library –> Thurs, February 28, 2019 at 6:30 PM
John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia and Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent, will present “The Lost History of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore” using newly discovered information found in the Baltimore City Archives, Maryland Historical Society, Enoch Pratt Free Library, and private archives. Muller has presented widely throughout the DC-Baltimore metropolitan area at venues including the Library of Congress, Newseum, Politics and Prose, American Library in Paris and local universities. He is currently working on a book about the lost history of Frederick Douglass on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
John Muller will be in conversation
with Dr. Ida E. Jones, Morgan State University Archivist.
Writers LIVE programs are supported in part by a bequest from The Miss Howard Hubbard Adult Programming Fund.
Thursday, February 28 at 6:30pm
Central Library, African American Department
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Video: JHU Professor Martha S. Jones discusses “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America” and Editor’s Note
Johns Hopkins University Professor of History Martha S. Jones has been around the corner and across the world uplifting lost history as of late.
In her groundbreaking work, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Prof. Jones documents the legal declarations and assertions of citizenship made by the antebellum black community of Baltimore City in radical opposition to the Maryland state legislature supporting African colonization as a matter of long-term public policy. Colonization was supported with a capital budget.
As a street historian I have picked up old maps of Africa which show “Maryland” as a state or county of Liberia. I eventually learned in 1832 the state of Maryland funded a census of all free black folks in the state to better inform its policy efforts in the colonization of black Marylanders.
The era and epoch of Baltimore community history in which Prof. Jones chronicles is from whence Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass emerges and escapes in September 1838.
I suggest scholars take the lead of Prof. Jones and get to studying and researching. There is much work to be done to correct generations of incomplete scholarship and lies.
P.S. I will be referencing Prof. Jones work on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library in the presentation of “The Lost History of Frederick (Bailey) in Baltimore.” Morgan State University archivist Dr. Ida E. Jones will offer remarks and moderate.
Follow Prof. Jones on her blog: http://marthasjones.com/blog/