Posts Tagged Frostburg State University

“When Frederick Douglass Came To Town,”by Cassie Conklin of The Bottom Line [ April 14, 2019] (independent student news organization of Frostburg State University since 1948)

Image may contain: 1 personOn Tuesday, April 9, 2019, the FSU’s Department of Sociology, Department of Geography and African American Studies Program hosted a presentation by John Muller. Muller, a self-described “street historian,” has authored two books, “Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia” and “Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent” and is working on “Lost History: Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore City, 1825–1895.”

His lecture described visits made by Frederick Douglass, the famous escaped slave, orator, and intellectual, to Frostburg and Cumberland, Md. in the 1800’s. Muller also discussed friends and political acquaintances of Douglass’ from Western Maryland. One such associate, Lloyd Lowndes of Cumberland, later became governor of Maryland from 1896 to 1900 and was honored on FSU’s campus with the naming of Lowndes Hall.

Born in 1818 in Talbot County, Md., Frederick Douglass escaped slavery in 183[8]. He became famous in 1845 with the publication of his memoir, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” The autobiography is considered one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the 19th century in the United States. In his lifetime, Douglass became the first African American nominated for the Vice President of the United States on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

Muller’s presentation focused on the later years of Douglass’ life. In September 1879, Douglass traveled by train from Washington D.C. to Cumberland, Md. to give his “Self-Made Man” speech. This was not Douglass’ first contact in Allegany County, though, as he had written Letters to the Editor published in the Cumberland News in 1874. Nonetheless, the visit was an occasion shared by a mixed race audience. During his remarks, Douglass said, “I remember when it was not thought safe for me to have appeared among the mountains of Maryland.” The Frostburg Mining Journal covered the story saying, “Frostburg was fully represented.”

Douglass’ second visit to Allegany County was in March 1882 in support of the local African Methodist Episcopal Church in Frostburg. His second visit created less fanfare but was an intimate experience for attendees. The Frostburg Mining Journal wrote later that the lecture was given to a “small but intelligent audience…it was one of the best ever delivered in this town.”

Muller took questions from the over one hundred students, faculty, and staff present for his lecture. Many asked about the controversial nature of the relationship between Frederick Douglass and white women suffragettes. Muller impressively described the relationship between Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, both of which had critiques about the 15th amendment that allowed for the voting rights of African-American men. Muller was careful in his answers saying, “Frederick Douglass took incremental steps to advocate for women’s voting rights whenever possible.”

When Frederick Douglass Came To Town,” April 14, 2019. Cassie Conklin. The Bottom Line. 

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Thank you Frostburg State University for uplifting & upholding “Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland”

Image may contain: 1 personEarlier this week, a couple miles up the old National Road from the Queen City I had opportunity to present on the Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland at Frostburg State University.

With promotional support of several local institutions, local media outlets, community historians and students and faculty from Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University a hundred or so folks rallied up.

With thoughtful questions from both students and members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland a wonderful evening of history unfolded.

A special thanks to:

Elizabeth Howe and John Clinton Frye of the Western Maryland Room; Washington County Free Library
Frostburg State University Professors; Kara Thomas and Amy Branam
Professor Brian Gilmore, thrown seat poet, 7th Street historian, universal Douglassonian
Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture; Chairman Professor Dale Green; Commissioner Reggie Turner – Washington County and Commissioner Prof. Lynn Bowman – Allegany County
WDVM – Hagerstown
Frostburg First, Maryland Main Street Community
Main Street Books
Metropolitan AME Church – Cumberland
Al Feldstein, “History Alf,” legendary Western Maryland historian
Cherie “Sojourner Truth” Snyder
Dan Spedden & Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Ron Lytle, African American Historical Association of Western Maryland
Growing up in Western Maryland (Facebook group)
Dr. Ed Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist (retired)
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Members of the Douglass Family and Bailey Tribe
16th & W Street Douglassonians


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Commissioner Lynn Bowman providing a walking tour of the former Brownsville community, today the heart of the campus of Frostburg State University.

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Photos taken during Q&A after departure of a dozen or more student to other demands on their time.

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Flyer -> “Lost History: Frederick Douglass In Western Maryland” @ Frostburg State University, April 9, 2019 – 6:00 PM [free & open to the public]

Image may contain: John Yahya H Muller

For more information:

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“Lost History: Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland” [Frostburg State University – April 9, 2019 @ 6PM]

Frostburg State UniversityLost History: Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland

TUESDAY, April 9, 2019 – 6:00 PM

 ** Frostburg State University **
CCIT Building, Room 317

Dr. Frederick Douglass may have self-identified as an Eastern Shore man but on more than one occasion he spoke in the mountains of Western Maryland.

While in 1879 Douglass spoke in Frederick City (early April), Hagerstown (late April) and in Cumberland on September 22 for Emancipation Day festivities, in March 1882 Douglass made an independent visit to lecture in Frostburg, Maryland. Originally founded as Normal School No. 2, Frostburg State University was not initially funded and opened to its first class for nearly two decades.

Author and street historian John Muller will detail the visits of Dr. Douglass to Cumberland and Frostburg, as well as share insights into his relationship with Cumberland-based Governor Lloyd Lowndes.

Douglass often lectured at courthouses, as he did in Hagerstown, local city halls, as he did in Frederick City, and outdoor venues such as the fairgrounds in Cumberland. He also often lectured at well-known public halls, including opera houses, as he did in Frostburg.

Join local history enthusiasts and community leaders for a debut presentation detailing a previously unknown high-profile visit Dr. Douglass made to Cumberland, Maryland, arriving by train, escorted through town by a large procession and speaking at the old fairgrounds in company of local AME pastors, politicians and community leaders.

Following the presentation will be a Q&A.

Featured Presenter

John Muller is the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C: The Lion of Anacostia (2012) and Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent (2013) and is currently at work on Lost History: Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore City, 1825 – 1895. Muller has presented at the Library of Congress, American Library of Paris, Politics and Prose, Newseum and other venues. He has been featured on C-SPAN, WAMU, WYPR, WDVM and other local and national media outlets

In the past year Muller has presented a series of lost history lectures in Cambridge, Maryland at the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center, Hagerstown at the Washington County Central Library and Ebenezer AME Church, Denton at the Caroline County Public Library and in Baltimore City at the Enoch Pratt Central Library.

Invited Elected Officials, Community Leaders and Organizations

Invitations have been extended to Cumberland Mayor Raymond Morris and members of the Cumberland City Council, Frostburg Mayor W. Robert Flanigan and members of the Frostburg City Council, Allegany County Commissioners, members of the Maryland House of Delegates and Maryland Senate representing Western Maryland, the office of United States Representative David Trone, United States Senators Benjamin Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Allegany County Historical Society, Allegany Museum, Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, Allegany County Public Library, Allegany County Chapter of the NAACP, Metropolitan AME Church of Cumberland, African-American Historical Association of Western Maryland, Frostburg State University Black Student Alliance, Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture, Maryland Historical Society, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, University of Maryland-College Park, W Street Douglassonians, members of the Douglass and Bailey Family and others.

Frostburg State University  

 The lecture is open to the public and being presented with the support and partnership of the Department of Sociology, Department of Geography and Department of African-American Studies. The lecture will be in the Catherine R. Gira Center for Communications and Information Technology Building, Room 317.

For directions visit

For more information on Frostburg State University visit or call 301-687-7589.


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“Hon. Fred. Douglass” in Frostburg, Maryland, March 1882 (advertisement & brief notes)

Frostburg Mining Journal _ March 18, 1882, p. 2 _ FD ad

Frostburg Mining Journal, 18 March 1882. (Library of Congress)

Dr. Douglass may have self-identified as an Eastern Shoreman but on more than one occasion he spoke in the mountains of Western Maryland.

While in 1879 Douglass spoke in Frederick City (early April), Hagerstown (late April) and in Cumberland on September 22 for Emancipation Day festivities, in March 1882 Douglass made an independent visit to lecture in Frostburg, Maryland.

As surely many know, what is today Frostburg State University, originally founded as Normal School No. 2, was not initially funded and opened until nearly two decades later.

Introductory conversations I’ve had with local historians have been circumspect of Governor Lowndes, which I will seek to confirm or refute. What is beyond speculation is the correspondence and associations between Lowndes and Douglass span more than two decades.

From preliminary research it appears there was a local municipal election in Frostburg at the time of Dr. Douglass’ visit but I can’t confirm that he took a position.

On the extant contemporaneous buildings of Frostburg, around the same time as the pending visit of Douglass to the area, the local city council in Frostburg received a petition by the local A.M.E. church for a street lamp on its corner. The appropriation was approved.

Douglass often lectured at courthouses, as he did in Hagerstown, local city halls, as he did in Frederick City, and outdoor venues such as the fairgrounds in Cumberland. He also often lectured at well known public halls, including opera houses, as he did in Frostburg.

Legendary Western Maryland historian Al Feldstein was kind enough to pass along a postcard of the Odd Fellows Opera House that reportedly burned down in the early 1900s.

I will be presenting at Frostburg State University on “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland,” with an emphasis on the localities of Cumberland and Frostburg next month.

Hopefully the history will be received warmly and there will be an opportunity to present at the Appalachian Festival, when “Lost History: Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland,” develops into the book format it deserves.


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Dr. Frederick Douglass was a Marylander; addresses Emancipation Day in Cumberland, Maryland [September 22, 1879]

An an indigenous Eastern Shoreman Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass could rightfully claim identity as a Baltimorean and thus kinship status as a Marylander through and through.

Lost to history have been several return visits Dr. Douglass made to the Shore as well as numerous lifelong relationships he maintained with Marylanders from members of the Lloyd family to abolitionist and educator Emily Edmonson of Montgomery County. Additionally, the speeches and activities of Dr. Douglass throughout the different regions and areas of his native state are widely forgotten in existing scholarship and bicentennial commemorations.

Untold by his own hand and biographers, in September 1879 Dr. Douglass visited the Cumberland Valley, drawing a reported 2,000 whites and blacks to the city of Cumberland from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Western Maryland.

Cumberland Fairgrounds - WCFL

Courtesy of Washington County Free Library, Western Maryland Room

Sharing the stage with former Congressman and Lincoln appointee Henry W. Hoffman, Dr. Douglass spoke to acknowledge September 22nd as Emancipation Day, whereas 17 years before President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

In truth, Dr. Douglass ran with many men, such as Henry O. Wagoner and James W. C. Pennington, who traveled out of underground railroad stations in Western Maryland to freedom. Martin Delany, one of Douglass’ early associates, was indigenous to the Appalachia area.

In the 1880s Dr. Douglass frequently traveled to Harper’s Ferry to attend to his duties as a board member of Storer College.

Known to travel near and far within his home state and throughout the country and world, I’ve confirmed Dr. Douglass spoke in Hagerstown for the benefit of a local church in 1879, about six months before visiting Cumberland in September.

Point is: Dr. Douglass, an Eastern Shoreman by birth and Point Boy by initiation, touched all parts of his native state, including Allegheny and Washington counties in Western Maryland.

It is beyond time to uplift the history and give Dr. Douglass the full recognition he so rightfully deserves as a Marylander.


Frostburg Mining Journal _ 27 Sept 1879 _ p. 3 _ FD in Cumberland _ croppedANNIVERSARY OF EMANCIPATION.

Monday, 22d inst., emancipation day was celebrated in Cumberland with much rejoicing by the colored people, who poured into the city on every train. The procession formed at the Queen City Hotel about half past 12 and marched through the principal streets to the fair grounds where dinner was served and addresses delivered by Hons Frederick Douglass, of Washington, and Henry W. Hoffman, of Cumberland, and others.

Frostburg was fully represented.


Mining Journal,  “Anniversary of Emancipation.” 27 September, 1879, p. 3

Editor’s Note (1):

Special thanks to reference library and archivist Elizabeth Howe of the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library for the research support.

Editor’s Note (2):

I have been invited to present on “Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland” at the October 1, 2018 meeting of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

Due to a previous commitment I will be unable to present but have made arrangements for the information to be presented on behalf of W Street Douglassonians.

Public Meeting

Monday, October 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM (Washington County)

Hagerstown Community College

111400 Robinwood Drive

Career Programs Building Rooms 211 & 213

Hagerstown, MD 21742

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Register for Frederick Douglass “Reacting to the Past Workshop” at Frostburg State University, February 16 & 17, 2013

Frostburg Conference _ FD-Half-PosterFrostburg State University invites the Maryland community to participate in a 2-day workshop introducing the Reacting to the Past pedagogical role playing game Frederick Douglass, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Constitution: 1845, led by Dr. Mark Higbee, Professor of History at Eastern Michigan University.

The workshop will be held at Frostburg State University on Saturday February 16, and Sunday February 17, 2013.   (In case of extreme weather the workshop will be held on March 2 and 3.)

All participants will receive a historical role to play and game materials including primary texts to help them prepare to play their role.

For more information contact Shoshana Brassfield at or Nicholas Clulee at

This workshop is presented in partnership with Reacting to the Past and the FSU Department of Philosophy and History, African American Studies Program, Women’s Studies Program, International Studies Program, Center for Teaching Excellence Advisory Group, President’s Advisory Council for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Black Student Alliance and National Council of Negro Women.

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