Posts Tagged Galusha Anderson
“Making the case for Frederick Douglass’ connection with UR,” Jim Memmott, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [July 18, 2018]
[This article ran in the Democrat and Chronicle on July 18, 2018. Thank you, Mr. Jim Memmott.]
Original article HERE!
The abolitionist Frederick Douglass was an emancipated slave with no formal education. Most certainly, he never went to college; however, it would seem that college came to him, honoring his intellect, praising his achievements.
John Muller, the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, makes a special case for a connection between Douglass and the University of Rochester and its president, Martin Brewer Anderson.
“The friendly relationship between Douglass and (the) Rev. Martin B. Anderson, as well as faculty and students at the University of Rochester, is pivotal to understanding Douglass’ Rochester years,” Muller wrote in an email. “… The mutual respect President Anderson and Douglass had for each other demonstrates how Douglass was uniquely supported by the ‘learned community’ in Rochester and the contributions he made to the intellectual vitality of Rochester as one of its leading citizens.”
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth in Maryland as a slave. To mark the anniversary, the UR awarded Douglass a posthumous honorary doctor of laws degree in May. (Full disclosure: I teach journalism at UR.)
The degree recognized the fact that Douglass had been a leading abolitionist and published The North Star while living in Rochester from 1847 to 1872. He then moved to Washington, D.C., after his house on South Avenue burned down.
The time Douglass spent in Rochester overlapped with the early years of the UR, which was founded in 1850. Three years later, Martin Brewer Anderson became the university’s first president.
Muller lives in Washington and is a grandson of the late William B. Hemmer, a professor at The College of Brockport. He maintains a blog, thelionofanacostia.wordpress.com (Anacostia is the Washington neighborhood in which Douglass lived).
In the blog, Muller points to a letter of thanks that Douglass wrote to Anderson in 1868 after Anderson had helped him arrange a speech at another university. Anderson was also a member of a committee that commissioned Rochester sculptor Johnson Mundy to create a bust of Douglass. At the dedication ceremony in 1879, he spoke glowingly of Douglass.
“(Frederick Douglass) was a man born in slavery,” Anderson said, “but by a display of indomitable energy and a never wavering courage he raised himself to the level of the foremost orators, philanthropists and emancipators of the day.”
As Muller notes, Galusha Anderson (no relation to Martin Anderson), a student at the UR in the 1850s who later became the president of the University of Chicago, also had high praise for Frederick Douglass.
He wrote how UR students would gather in the library to read the new issues of The North Star. “He never had a day’s schooling in his life, yet he gripped and delighted college students,” Galusha Anderson wrote in 1916.
Anderson went on to write that “Pres. Martin B. Anderson of the university warmly befriended (Douglass), suggested much to him in conversations and commended to him useful books.”
Melissa S. Mead, the university’s archivist and Rochester Collections librarian, says that research into the connection between Frederick Douglass and Martin Anderson is ongoing.
However, the university doesn’t have Anderson’s outgoing mail in its collection. “It’s possible that he sent letters to Douglass, but we have no way of knowing that,” Mead says.
It should be noted, too, that the enthusiasm for Douglass did not translate quickly into the admission of African-American students at UR. Charles Augustus Thomson, class of 1891, was the first African-American to graduate; Beatrice Amaza Howard, class of 1931, was the first African-American woman to graduate.
A bust of Douglass was first placed in Sibley Hall on the old campus of the university. It is now on display in Frederick Douglass Commons on the university’s River Campus. Thus, Douglass is a familiar presence at the UR, perhaps as he was while living here.
Honoring the dead
William H. Cooper Marine Post No. 603 of the American Legion will conduct a ceremony at 11 a.m. July 18 in Mt. Hope Cemetery, noting the 100th anniversary of the death of its namesake.
Born in Rochester in 1892, Sgt. Cooper was an electrician when he enlisted in April 1917. Sent to France in October, he was killed in action July 18, 1918.
On Remarkable Rochester
Retired Senior Editor Jim Memmott reflects on what makes Rochester distinctively Rochester, its history, its habits, its people. Since 2010, he has also been compiling a list of Remarkable Rochesterians.
Let’s add the names of this college president to the list of Remarkable Rochesterians that can be found at at rochester.nydatabases.com:
Martin B. Anderson (1815-1890): He became the first president of the University of Rochester in 1853 and served for 35 years, retiring in 1888. Born in Maine, he graduated from Waterville College (now Colby College), attended Newton Theological Institution in Massachusetts, and later returned to Waterville to teach. He went on to edit a Baptist newspaper in New York City until he came to UR, where, in addition to his presidential duties, he lectured on philosophy, constitutional law and other subjects. He also oversaw the move of the college from a hotel to a new campus on Prince Street.
Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Higher Education: University of Rochester Edition, Pt. 5 [University of Chicago President Galusha Anderson recalls reading ‘Frederick Douglass’ Paper’ in University of Rochester reading room, “soon as it was spread on the sloping desk by the wall a half-dozen or more students would gather in a cluster around it.”]
As a fugitive slave-scholar Dr. Frederick Douglass used his life experiences to educate the educated.
Without advantage of a singular formal day of school in his life Douglass commanded intellectual influence with fellow fugitive slave-scholars, international abolitionists, Pan-African Nationalists, suffragists, journalists, preachers, congressmen, senators and university presidents and students.
One of the first universities which welcomed the teachings of Dr. Douglass was the University of Rochester, founded in 1850 just three years after Douglass launched The North Star.
Previous blog posts have documented the relationship Dr. Douglass had with President Martin B. Anderson. We will continue to elevate and educate the known to the unknowing scholars of the close connection Dr. Douglass had with the University of Rochester.
We hope a city which prides itself on its association with Dr. Douglass would take interest in the continued unknown research being advanced by the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia.
As a W Street Douglassonian the street corner has been our seminar on Dr. Douglass. It is from whence the imperative and mandate to uplift fallen history originates.
Along with documenting the relationships between Dr. Douglass and M. B. Anderson, Heman Lincoln Wayland and John Henry Raymond — all who served the University of Rochester during its early years — we continue to bring forth militant scholarship to elevate Dougassoniana Studies. Somebody has to.
According to a recent article:
“We don’t have the kinds of sources historians rely upon to write the kind of study of a person and a place that readers demand today,” Hudson [an associate professor of history at the University of Rochester] says.
The destruction of Douglass’s home of 20 years closed the Rochester chapter of his life.
We find this curious and wholly inaccurate considering the author of Lion of Anacostia has now introduced more than a half-dozen unknown and previously unpublished letters, articles and anecdotes about Douglass in Rochester on this blog in recent weeks.
The University of Rochester is pivotal to the intellectual history of Dr. Douglass that has been untold and previously unknown. Don’t believe me. Believe the scholarship.
If University of Rochester does not know and acknowledge its own relationship with Dr. Douglass why posthumously award him a degree? To my untrained methods that seems half-honorific, half-dishonest.
If Dr. Douglass is going to be recognized and honored for his intellect let it be done with intellectual honor to scholarship. Right?
Galusha Anderson, 5th president of the University of Chicago, recalls Frederick Douglass and the University of Rochester
While a student at the University of Rochester in the mid-1850s Galusha Anderson frequently saw Dr. Douglass about town, attended his lectures and recalled the popularity of his newspaper among his classmates.
In a 1916 essay, Anderson provided a personal reminiscence, excerpts shared below:
It is not my purpose to give even an outline sketch of the fascinating life of Frederick Douglass. …
For twenty-five years Douglass lived in Rochester, N.Y.
During my college days in that city I often saw him and at times heard him speak with ravishing eloquence. He edited a weekly paper, the North Star. Later it was named Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Though contending with manifold difficulties, he made it a success. It had an average circulation of 3,000, the maximum being 4,000.
It came regularly to the reading room of the university, and as soon as it was spread on the sloping desk by the wall a half-dozen or more students would gather in a cluster around it, eager to read Douglass’ editorials; not because he was a fugitive slave, but on account of the intrinsic worth of his utterances.
He had a virile grasp of his subject and wrote in clear, strong, pungent Saxon. He never had a day’s schooling in his life, yet he gripped and delighted college and seminary students.
Pres. Martin B. Anderson of the university warmly befriended him, suggested much to him in conversation and commended to him useful books. …
Called to speak in Detroit, he took a steamboat at Buffalo for that city. He bought a first-class ticket that included his meals. When the dinner gong sounded he took his seat at the table, whereupon some gentlemen, suffering from Negrophobia, indignantly demanded that he should be ejected from the dining-room.
At that time in Rochester, the spirit-mediums, the Fox girls, were notorious for their summoning of departed spirits that supposedly lifted tables and raped on ceilings and walls. Throughout the country there was much talk of the Rochester rapings.
The steward of the steamboat came to Douglass and requested him, for the sake of peace, to leave the table. He replied that he had a first-class ticket, which entitled him to his meals, and that standing on his manifest rights he intended to remain.
“Then,” said the steward, “we shall have to put you out.”
“If you lay a finger on me,” said Douglass, “I’ll give you a practical example of the Rochester rapings.”
Looking on that stalwart frame, the steward quickly concluded that discretion was the better part of valor, and Douglass ate his meals unmolested.
Douglass, by his unusual intellectual ability and whole-hearted devotion to his enslaved race, won the respect and goodwill of the best citizens of Rochester.
When he died in Washington he was buried, according to his known wish, in Rochester’s beautiful cemetery, Mount Hope.
The leading citizens of his adopted city erected a bronze statue of him on a conspicuous site in the heart of Rochester. He came to that city a fugitive from bondage, unknown save by a very few, but in the revolving years won the esteem and admiration of the multitude, of the high and the low, the rich and the poor.
He rose to honor.
(Full text) –>
“Frederick Douglass,” Galusha Anderson. The Standard: A Baptist Newspaper, Vol. 64, No. 2. September 9, 1916. pages 6 – 7. (Published in Chicago.)