Posts Tagged Dickson J. Preston

The Lost Comrades of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass

As a front line warrior-pharaoh Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass survived danger zones from his Tuckahoe birth to initiation as a “Point Boy” to his later years as a Washingtonian where his proclivity to walk the city streets was observed by the New York Tribune.

In the committed cause lives were lost. Dr. Douglass, not dissimilar to youngsters being raised within the tempestuous communities of Baltimore, Rochester and Washington City, was exposed to brutality and savagery at an early age, a birthright inheritance of American slavery.

Inter and intra-neighborhood violence and harassment by law enforcement remains an element of life in contemporary Douglassonian communities. Conditions faced by school-aged children in Old Anacostia have troubling similarities to conditions Frederick Bailey negotiated in pursuit of his liberation.

The spirit of Dr. Douglass is a guardian angel with wingspan and reach expansive to shelter and comfort the fallen and lost souls. There are generations, including the late William Alston-El, a legendary indigenous Old Anacostia Douglassonian, who lost classmates, cellmates, friends and family to the streets yet elevated and uplifted his own humanity to serve as an international corner-man ambassador. My friend William is a modern lost comrade of the spirit of Dr. Douglass.

Illustration

Life and Times, 1892. p. 79

Independent research by biographer Dickson Preston confirmed the archival record of the death — and potential open murder case, as recalled in the Narrative — of “Denby” on the Lloyd plantation. Other early incidents of ultra violence in the life of Frederick Douglass and his closest family are recorded in his autobiographies, including his imprisonment in Easton, Maryland for plotting an organized escape.

Coming up as a young lion Dr. Douglass came up within a complex danger zone to achieve his freedom. Alongside Anna, a militant abolitionist, the Douglass household in Rochester was an active Underground Railroad station.

Within the city of Rochester and surrounding towns, villages and counties of Western New York Dr. Douglass was widely known as an active conductor. As the Civil War approached the daily sheets reported fugitives being directed to the newspaper office of Editor Douglass.

Before his execution by the government for a failed attempt to seize a federal weapons arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, abolitionist John Brown, in company with his sons, delivered homicide upon pro-slavery factions in “Bleeding Kansas.”

The presence of Dr. Douglass commanded respect as equally with Methodist preachers as with runaway slave-scholars and radical young journalists, such as Ida Wells, armed with pen and pistol.

In the whirlwind Dr. Douglass lost family, friend and foe.

A statue of Octavius Catto, an educator murdered in Philadelphia in 1871, was installed last year. 

Less than a year before his own flight from Fell’s Point editor Elijah Lovejoy was killed by mob in Illinois. While establishing himself as a local fugitive-slave scholar and abolitionist in Massachusetts and connecting with William Lloyd Garrison riots in Cincinnati broke out. Charles Van Loon, a preacher and abolitionist, was attacked and killed in late 1847 just weeks after sharing the stage with Dr. Douglass.

Weeks after speaking with Abraham Lincoln in Washington City the first American President was assassinated by a deranged actor ready to conspire and murder in the name of white supremacy. On Election Day in October 1871 Douglass’ associate and radical educator Octavius Catto was murdered in Philadelphia. In 1876 John Sella Martin, a young man Douglass looked out for, succumbed to death by his own hand.

While it is the style of historians to fashion an event, institution or person this way or that way, prejudicial to their own perspective, Dr. Douglass is of infinite styles and smarts. Neither preachers, biographers nor newspaper editors can ever fashion Dr. Douglass nor his family.

The smarts of Dr. Douglass can only be understood by Gods who have safeguarded generations of men and women preaching rebellion on street corners as long as there have been street corners to preach on.

Somehow and someway Dr. Douglass survived. The Gods of the Streets know. Biographers do not.

This was supposed to be an introduction to two specific small anecdotes which demonstrate and edify the point that Dr. Douglass survived danger zones but it somehow became its own entry.

To be continued …


 

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Thank you to The Seymours of St. Michaels, Maryland for uplifting local history and Douglassonianism

The Seymours, legends in the study and promotion of local history, were kind enough to welcome myself, Honorable Tarence Bailey and Mrs. Kate Fones of the St. Michaels Museum to their home to discuss all matters of Douglassonianism and the Shore.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Tarence Bailey, people smiling, people standing, outdoor and nature

L-R: Tarence Bailey, Mr. Seymour, Kate Fones, Mrs. Seymour

Mr. George A. Seymour is the author of a local guide to Douglass (Bailey) sites in and around St. Michaels. Additionally, word on the street is the young man in his early 90s was a leading force for having Route 33 renamed for Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass.

Mr. Seymour is not just a St. Michaels Douglassonian, he is a radical Douglassonian in the spirit of Dickson J. Preston.

Thank you for all the work you have done to uplift history and generosity in sharing it with the public.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Tarence Bailey and John Yahya H Muller, people smiling, people standing, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

L-R: Tarence Bailey, Kate Fones, Mrs. Seymour, John Muller

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

“Douglass’ college ties extended far and wide,” Letter to the Editor of the Star Democrat, February 1, 2018 [Paper of Record of Maryland’s Eastern Shore]

Letter to the Editor, Star Democrat, Feb. 1, 2018. Copyright of fact strictly enforced by the power of the 1st Amendment.

I told Washington College it’s not a game out here.

As an adolescent I ran with great-great grandsons of runaway fugitive slave-scholars. As a young Douglassonian I studied the work of GATH and Dickson J. Preston, two classic role models in the advanced Classics of Douglassoniana Studies.

I thank old school journalists and the editors and staff of the Star Democrat for understanding that if we don’t have accuracy in our reporting we have nothing.

It’s about respecting Dr. Douglass.

He is a native son of your soil and your pork. The mental and physical muscles Douglass stretched to escape slavery were first flexed on the Eastern Shore.

You understand.

Washington College and speculative historian David Blight do not.

[WC press release and “belief” not factually corrected as of 12 noon, February 1, 2018.]

 

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Case for Speculations: David Blight is an intellectual disgrace to Douglassonian Biographers Frederic May Holland, James Monroe Gregory, Benjamin Quarles, Philip Foner, John Blassingame and Dickson J. Preston (Part 2)

No automatic alt text available.There is a Hall of Fame of Douglassonian Biographers.

In order of appearance: Frederic May Holland, James Monroe Gregory, Benjamin Quarles, Philip Foner, John Blassingame and Dickson J. Preston.

(ED Note: Leigh Fought is not eligible as her years as a Douglassonian are still active. The Kendricks would be inducted as a father-son duo of Douglassonians.)

Absent from this short list is David Blight of Yale University, one of the most overrated Civil War historians of the last generation.

Douglassonians are thorough-headed scholars of FD’s network as a connecting line throughout his entire life, from connections running the neighborhood streets of Fells Point to local petitioners who approached him while he walked the muddy streets of Old Anacostia, a locally respected and internationally known statesman for the friendless.

Blight is not a Douglassonian. Blight’s presentations on Douglass are restrictive and dated, just as is his scholarship.

Blight’s book published nearly thirty years ago in 1989 was an outgrowth of his 1985 dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the same institution attended by another over-rated old American white man and alleged “Douglass Scholar.” The book is by Blight’s own admission “juvenile writing.” We agree.

Blight covers Douglass in the years leading to the Civil War and during the Civil War. It’s a book every Douglass scholar should have but not one that is of particular importance. It’s maybe a top 50 Douglass book, not better than that. There are around 100 real books about Douglass so Blight’s work by honest evaluation is a book in the middle, not bad, not particularly good. In reading of Blight’s book in preparation for writing my own book he gets a number of dates and facts related to the Douglass Reconstruction years in Washington City wrong.

David Blight, a 68-year old former high school history teacher from Flint, Michigan, has comfortably traveled the country and world for years without advancing any unique understanding or interpretation of Douglass beyond the metaphorical.

He views Douglass as a mythical metaphor.  He lauds Harvard professor John Stauffer, who has taken credit for research done by Zoe Trodd and Celeste-Marie Bernier and did some other jankey stuff with his inaccurately sub-titled co-authored book.

Blight calls William J. McFeely’s disturbing 1991 Douglass biography, “a very good book.”

Douglass is a neighborhood guy. This stable of current old American white men who are somehow lauded and labeled “Douglass experts” — Blight, Ira Berlin and John Stauffer [the youngest being born in 1965] — will never understand Douglass as Freddy Fred. Never. Never ever. All Douglass is to them is a method for them to reign unchallenged within their Ivory Towers of largely speculative scholarship.

Douglass is a benevolent spirit watching over all the intellectual curious children of the 1-6 and lost souls seeking shelter from the sub-zero temperatures in the abandominiums of Old Anacostia.

Douglass is not a past and distant myth and a convenient metaphor.

Real live. He’s got the biggest house in the ‘hood.

Case for Speculations (1): Imitating Douglass’ voice, cracked, high-pitched and subservient 

This is not history. It is bizarre pseudo-speculation and this old white man’s effort to imitate how he thinks Frederick Douglass would conduct himself in a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln. Bizarre on many levels.

A true historian, let alone a Douglassonian, would directly quote from source material. Blight does not. He offers an imitation of Douglass.

See, young scholar-soldiers, I came up 901 G. Where you might catch Anthony Pitch giving a presentation without a single inference, note of speculation, whiff of guesswork or hint of conjecture.

This non-historical pseudo-genuflecting drivel by Blight and other alleged “Douglass experts” is nothing any respectable W Street Douglassonian and self-respecting historian can and will ever respect.

Case for Speculations (2): “You can milk it for pages.

Blight demonstrates his appalling laziness as a speculative historian by professing that to a narrative-based biographer such as himself he jumps at the occasion to take any short cut he can find.

When looking through vertical files of old newspaper clippings that chronicle Douglass’ life and times, in real time, Blight admits when he finds a clipping he views the discovery as an opportunity to “milk it for pages.”

In his presentation to Harvard Law School he says this with exaggeration, emphasizing the point with a small rattle of his off-dominant lecture hand.

On W Street we don’t milk. We research. We respect the game. Otherwise they take you out.

I’m on mission to agitate, agitate, agitate and take out all of these alleged Douglass experts who are a disgrace to the limited and sacred Hall of Fame of Douglassonian Biographers.

Don’t tell me Blight is a Douglass expert because he is not. He is a speculative, mediocre Civil War historian.

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment