Posts Tagged Congressional Record

Dr. Frederick Douglass uplifted on floor of House of Representatives as representative intellect of descendants of ancient Egyptians, source for Greek civilization, and possessing oratorical ability equal to any national legislator. [“The Slave Question.” Speech of Mr. J. G. Palfrey, 26 January, 1848. 30th Congress, 1st Session]

J G Parley

Before his thirtieth birthday Dr. Frederick Douglass was uplifted on the floor of the House of Representatives as a representative intellect of the descendants of ancient Egyptians, the source for Greek civilization, and possessing oratorical ability equal to any national legislator.

It is a new era in Douglassonian Studies. Study up, yung sons. The old, tired tropes and racist speculations will be challenged and put down at every utterance.

In the Bicentennial of the birth of Dr. Douglass it is time to finally tell his life story in full.

For. Once. And. For. All. Times.

The Slave Question.

Speech of Mr. J. G. Palfrey,
Of Massachusetts,
In The House of Representatives,
January 28, 1848

On The Political Aspect of the Slave Question.

“… Again; the gentleman urged, to the point, the natural inferiority of the negro race. He has no doubt examined, and knows how to expose, the seeming paradox of those ingenious men who have held that the balance of power was shifted, and the sceptre of the world passed from the colored to the white race, some twenty-four centuries ago, at the capture of Babylon by the Persians; and I presume he decides that question rightly.  [Mr. Clingman interrupted, and was understood to say he had referred to the Egyptians, and relied on the formation of the Egyptian skull.]

The gentlemen speaks of the Egyptians. Undoubtedly he has attended to the curious hint in Herodotus, bearing that question. The gentlemen quotes Appian, a writer not commonly in the hands of professed scholars. He is a reader of Polybius, and has weighed his merits and those of the other great masters that department of composition in such exact critical scales as to feel justified in placing him at the head of the list in respect to political sagacity.

He cannot have overlooked that singular passage in so common an author as Herodotus, in which the old chronicler has been thought to say, that the ancient Egyptians, the remote source perhaps of Greek civilization, were woolly-headed negroes. I will not defend that interpretation of his words. But it is no invention of any of your high-flying abolitionists of the present day; it have been received by grave and plodding English and German doctors, who read, and pondered, and smoke, and annotated, long before, such a lusus nature as an American abolitionist was ever heard of.

The gentleman has of course determined the complexion of the great captain of antiquity, the Carthaginian Hannibal, and knows how far it resembled that of the Lybians and Nubians whom he led to twenty years’ triumph over the sharp-peaked eagles of Rome. He sees how to dispose of the phenomenon of the French mullato, Alexandre Dumas, that miracle of prolific genius.

He can show that no stress is to be laid on such a case as that of the American Frederick Douglass, now of Rochester, New York, ten years ago a wretched slave, picking up scraps of leaves of the Bible in the gutters of Baltimore, to teach himself to read, then working three years on the wharves on New Bedford, without a day’s schooling I presume in his life, yet now speaking and writing the English language with a force and eloquence which, I hesitate not to say, would do no discredit to any gentlemen on this floor.

SOURCE:

Appendix to The Congressional Globe for the First Session, Thirtieth Congress: Containing Speeches and Important State Papers (Vol. 17). City of Washington, Printed at the Office of Blair & Rives, 1848.

The Slave Question.” Speech of Mr. J. G. Palfrey, 26 January, 1848.
30th Congress, 1st Session, p. 133 – 137.

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Huffington Post DC: Notes on Frederick Douglass’ Long Journey to the U.S. Capitol

Before the Frederick Douglass statue at One Judiciary Square moves to the US Capitol he takes time to read a new book about his life and times in Anacostia. Photo_ John MullerOn February 23, 1895, three days after Frederick Douglass died in his Anacostia home and two days before his funeral was held at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, just blocks from the White House, Richard F. Pettigrew from South Dakota rose on the Senate Floor to offer a resolution for immediate consideration.

“If it is to be passed at all it must be passed now,” Pettigrew said.

The resolution read, “Whereas in the person of the late Frederick Douglass death has borne away one of our most illustrious fellow-citizens, who served his country long, faithfully, and honorably as citizen, diplomat and statesmen: Therefore, Be it resolved, That out of respect to his memory his remains be permitted to lie in state in the rotunda of the National Capitol between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on to-morrow.”

Arthur Poe Gorman, a senator from Douglass’ native Maryland, was not interested. “Let the resolution go over,” he said.

Read the entire article HERE!

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112th Congress, 2d Session, H.R. 6336, “To direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Frederick Douglass…

H.R. 6336 Introduced to the 112th Congress, 2d Session on August 2, 2012.

To direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Frederick Douglass from the District of Columbia and to provide for the permanent display of the statue in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Read the entire BILL HERE 

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Joseph Rainey, “The First Colored Representative” [New National Era, December 22, 1870]

The election of the first generation of black Congressmen and Senators was distinctly chronicled by The New National Era. By the close of the paper’s freshmen year Republican Joseph Rainey became the first black member of the House of Representatives. He was sworn-in December 12, 1870 after being selected by the South Carolina Republican Party to fill the vacated seat of Benjamin Whitenmore who was forced to resign after being charged with selling appointments to U.S. military academies. Rainey would be elected for four successive terms before losing re-election to the 46th Congress in 1878. He retired March 3, 1879, becoming the longest serving black American Congressman during the Reconstruction period.

“Mr. Rainey’s early education was extremely limited, never having attended a school in his life,” introduced the New National Era, “but despite the disadvantages under which the colored people labored at that time, his thirst for education was so great that he took every opportunity that presented itself to acquire a knowledge of books, and, being naturally of an observing turn of mind, improved rapidly.” Rainey “took his seat on the Republican side in the extreme southwest corner of the hall.” He was described as having “straight hair and bushy side whiskers, and looks like a Cuban.”  For the record, The New National Era stated, the “colored race is now represented in the United States Senate by Hiram Revels, in the lower House of Congress by Mr. Rainey, and on the Judicial bench by Mr. J. J. Wright, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.”

It was noted in the same issue that the “colored population of the United States now numbers about five million” which equaled “about nine hundred thousand votes, and probably a million in the next Presidential election.” The previous Census had accounted for forty-two million persons which “will give the country another apportionment for members of the House.” Crunching the numbers, The New National Era determined on “a basis of 150,000 inhabitants to a Representative the House to be chosen two years hence would consist of 250 members. Of these the colored population would furnish the basis for thirty-four members.” In all the Reconstruction Congresses and those leading up to 1901 a total of twenty-one African Americans served as Congressmen.

SOURCE:

“The First Colored Representative.” New National Era.  22 Dec. 1870, p. 3.

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Congressional Record: “Whenever [Frederick Douglass] got in sight of the Dome of the Capitol in Washington, he always felt as though he wanted to steal something.”

Frederick Douglass was no born fool, simpleton, sucker, or gump. He came up from slavery, he came up in the the streets of Jacksonian Baltimore. As has been better said by others before the “overly honorific public memory of Douglass belies a life entirely defined by action—sometimes action-hero type action. Frederick Douglass was a fighter.”

Now, don’t get it twisted or tangled. Douglass was a fighter but he was no criminal. At one time he may have been a fugitive slave, an outlaw, but he was honest, principled, and earned everything he had coming to him. With the exception of his flight from slavery, where Douglass stole himself from his master, Douglass scholars have found no quivering in his strict adherence to and advocacy for a society based on laws.

However his devoutness to the most basic American ideals and values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, Douglass was still from the streets and was funny with it when he wanted to be. Take the following example as evidence of a side of Douglass which has been touched on by scholars but does not permeate the public’s perception of him as stoic, stern, and stone-cold serious.

On February 20, 1878 United States Congressman from Wisconsin Charles G. Williams, who’d lived in Rochester during the years Douglass called the city home, revealed an insight into his relationship with his friend, the US Marshal for the District of Columbia.

“Reading of this infectious feeling in that office I was reminded of an ironical remark which I heard Mr. Frederick Douglass make some years ago. He said he could never account for it: but somehow, whenever he got in sight of the Dome of the Capitol in Washington, he always felt as though he wanted to steal something.” [Congressional Record, House, February 20, 1878 – 7 Cong. Rec. 1227 1878]

Was Douglass joking or dead-serious or dead-serious although joking?

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