Posts Tagged Higher Education

Howard University President Jeremiah Rankin on Dr. Frederick Douglass: “How knoweth this man letters?” … “he had the best teachers and examples the Anglo-Saxon schools could afford.”

Image result for frederick douglass readingAs a self-educated fugitive slave-scholar Dr. Frederick Douglass, when a young man in his twenties, schooled Anglo-Saxon abolitionists, politicians, philosophers and statesmen of the old world to his world of American slavery. Reciprocally, Dr. Douglass benefited from an invaluable education to the ways of oration, statecraft and moral, political and legal activism.

As previously reported here, cited by Frederic May Holland, people often asked Dr. Douglass where he received his education. To which he replied, “Massachusetts Abolition University. Mr. Garrison, President.”

In this spirit we share an excerpt from the eulogy offered by Rev. Jeremiah Rankin of Howard University at Douglass’ funeral in Washington City.

I do not at all underrate the work done by those magnificent champions of freedom, who took this young man at twenty-five into the charmed coterie of their fearless eloquence; who gave him the baptism of their approval; who laid their hands upon his head, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Philips and their associates.

But they needed him as much as he needed them.

After their cool and eloquent logic, after their studied irony and invective, which, mighty as it was, was wanting in the tremolo of the voice of one that has suffered, of one whose very modulations signified more than their words; when this man arose, as one rises from the dead, as the ghost of one, the crown and scepter of whose manhood has been stolen away, while he goes from land to land proclaiming the wrong and asking for justice, then the climax was reached.

This man made work of such men as Garrison and Phillips and Sumner and even Lincoln possible.

I do not wish to use the language of exaggeration. It is not fitting the occasion. It is not in keeping with the dignified manner and methods of the man whom we commemorate, or the providential movement of which he was so long a part.

But I believe the birth of Frederick Douglass into slavery was the beginning of the end; and that this was just as needful to his anti-slavery associates as to himself.

God planted a germ there, which was to burst the cruel system apart.

It was though He said, “Go to, now, ye wise men of the Great Republic, ye Websters and Clays, I will put this Samson of freedom in your temple of Dagon, and his tawny arms shall yet tumble its columns about the ears of the worshipers. I will put the ark of my covenant in the soul of this man, and the time shall come when your idol-god shall lie toppled over upon his nose in his presence.”

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Frederick Douglass in his library at Cedar Hill. LOC/NPS-FDNHS.

I think Frederick Douglass is to be congratulated on the kind of tuition that came to him; no, that God had provided for him, through these anti-slavery associates.

They were regarded as the offscouring of the earth, and yet many of them received their culture in the choicest New England schools, and they sprang from the noblest New England stock.

And when he went abroad, it was his privilege to hear such men as Cobden and Bright and Disraeli and O’Connell and Lord John Russell and Lord Broughman.

These men Mr. Douglass studied, admired and analyzed.

His more elaborate address, too, show the influence of the first and greatest of New England orators – Daniel Webster.

But even beyond the great American orator, whose model orations in all our schools-books was Mr. Douglass in the quality of fervor and fire.

Ah! that was a day when the runaway slave heard the great statesman at Bunker Hill. And he told me that he owed a great debt to the poems of Whittier.

To converse with Mr. Douglass, to hear him in public, one who knew his humble origin and limited opportunities, might well ask, “How knoweth this man letters?”

But, in the art of which he himself had such mastery, he had the best teachers and examples the Anglo-Saxon schools could afford, while not one the great men mentioned had such a theme as his.

How carefully he improved his intercourse with such men, his observations of them, one has to only read his life to discover.

Howard University, I believe, gave this man the degree of doctor laws, and there were some laws that no man knew better how to doctor than he.

But there was not an official of the University who could reach high enough to put a wreath on his brow. It had to be done from above, by the winged genius of the University.

SOURCE:

“Frederick Douglass’ Character and Career.” address by Jeremiah Rankin, President of Howard University at Metropolitan AME Church, 25 February, 1895.

Published in a variety of journals and magazines, including Our Day: The Altruistic Review, Volume XIV. January – June. (1895). p. 172 – 173

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University of Rochester graduate and Speaker of New York State Assembly, “Although university education was wanting to him, [Frederick Douglass] made up for it by intense application to the work of college men.”

“Many people rank Douglass higher as a writer than an orator, and believe that his work in this line will live longest. He was indefatigable as a worker. He entered in newspapers and did all the drudgery connected therewith in the early days. He cultivated a pure and graceful style, and the volume and felicity of his expression is really amazing to one who knows his history. He read far and wide, and was a hard student. He was a self-made man in every sense. He illustrated another exception in that he demonstrated the fact that it is not always necessary for a man to be a college graduate to succeed in literary life. Although university education was wanting to him, he made up for it by intense application to the work of college men. He never believed his education was finished, but was a student until the day of his death.”

Remarks by Rochesterian and 1885 graduate of the University of Rochester, James M. E. O’Grady, Speaker of the New York Assembly and future United States Congressman, on May 11, 1898 at a fundraiser for the Douglass Monument.

SOURCE:

Thompson, J. W. AN AUTHENTIC HISTORY OF THE DOUGLASS MONUMENT. 1903, p. 73.

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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.”]

Galusha Anderson, fifth president of the University of Chicago, recalled his memories of Dr. Douglass while a student in Rochester.

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 series of articles in Rochester’s City Paper there is a sincere interest among Rochesterians for a more expansive telling of the history of Douglass’ years in Rochester.

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.

Maybe Rochester cares? They claim to. Therefore we ask University of Rochester claim its importance to the Rochester years of Dr. Douglass.

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?

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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.

Sibley Hall, University of Rochester.

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.

In Sibley Hall, one of the buildings of the university, is a bust of Douglass.

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.

SOURCE:

(Full text) –>

Frederick Douglass,” Galusha Anderson. The Standard: A Baptist Newspaper, Vol. 64, No. 2. September 9, 1916. pages 6 – 7. (Published in Chicago.)

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Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Higher Education: University of Rochester Edition, Pt. 4 [Letter, June 1879, from Frederick Douglass thanking citizens and friends of Rochester, President of University of Rochester for installing marble bust in Sibley Hall]

statue of Frederick Douglass in a glass case on the library staircase as people walk past

Marble bust of headstrong Dr. Douglass was dedicated and placed in Sibley Hall on the University’s original Prince Street campus in 1879 without his advance knowledge. In recent years Dr. Douglass, a friend of U of R from its founding until his death, was moved to the stairway landing in the Great Hall of Rush Rhees Library. Photo University of Rochester.

When the University of Rochester unveiled the long anticipated marble bust of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass by local artist Johnson Mundy on its campus in June 1879 the man being celebrated was not in attendance.

To recognize the University of Rochester, President Anderson and his friends and associates in Rochester who had commissioned the work and organized the effort Douglass sent a timely letter to confidant Samuel Porter.

(Douglass also sent a subsequent March 1880 letter, recently acquired by U of R, thanking Mundy for the “fullness and a completeness” of his work.)

The below article and letter from Dr. Douglass was contemporaneously published by the Democrat and Chronicle and re-printed by fellow Rochester newspapers.

Additionally, Douglass thought the statue consequential and important enough to mention in Life and Times.

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FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

It will be remembered that a bust of Frederick Douglass was recently placed in Sibley Hall, of the University of Rochester. The ceremonies were quite informal – too informal, we think, as commemorating a deserved tribute from the people of Rochester to one who will always ranks as among her most distinguished citizen. Mr. Douglass himself was not notified officially of the event and therefore could in no public manner take notice of it. He was, however, informed privately of it, and responded most happily, as will be seen by the following letter which we are permitted to publish: –

Washington, D.C., June 25, 1879

SAMUEL D. PORTER, ESQ.

My dear Sir, – I am extremely obliged to you for your kind and timely letter which came this morning, for it was a relief from a real cause of embarrassment.

When I first read of the formal unveiling and the presentation of my bust to the city of Rochester, the speeches made on the occasion by imminent gentlemen, – notably the remarks of Dr. Anderson, the honored President of Rochester University, an institution which has done so much to make the name of the city illustrious, – I felt an almost irrepressible impulse to do or say something out of the common way to some one of my old friends and fellow-citizens, which should express however crudely, something of the grateful sentiment stirred in my breast by this distinguished honor.

But as no one of the respected gentlemen active in the procurement of the testimonial said anything to me about it, and treated me as if I were out of the world, as all men should be when they are once reduced to marble, I began at last to think that silence on my part was perhaps the best way to the properties of the occasion.

Now, however, I am relieved. You have made it easy for me to speak to express my earnest acknowledgements to the committee of the gentlemen having this matter in charge and who have conducted it to completion.

Incidents of this character in my life do much amaze me. It is not, however, the height to which I have risen, but the depth from which I have come, that most amazes me.

It seems only a little while ago, when a child, I might have been fighting with old “Nep,” my mother’s dog, for a small share of the few crumbs that fell from the kitchen table; when I slept on the hearth, covering my feet from the cold with warm ashes and my head with a corn bag; only a little while ago, dragged to prison to be sold to the highest bidder, exposed for sale like a beast of burden; later on, put out to live with Covey, the negro breaker; beaten and almost broken in spirit, having little hope either for myself or my race; yet here I am alive and active, and with my race, enjoying citizenship in the freest and prospectively the most powerful nation on the globe.

In addition to this, you and your friends, while I am yet alive have thought it worth while to preserve my features in marble and to place them in your most honored institution of learning, to be viewed by present and future generations of men.

I know not, my friend, how to thank you, for this distinguished honor.

My attachment to Rochester, my home for more than a quarter of a century, will endure with my life.

Very gratefully and truly yours,

FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

SOURCE:

“FREDERICK DOUGLASS,” June 28, 1879, Democrat and Chronicle, p. 2

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Prof. Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry: Confederate General heard Frederick Douglass while student at Harvard Law & arranged $500 donation to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in 1883

IllustrationThe only means in which to wage battle against the local, national and international oligarchy that exists to dumb down, simplify, exploit, speculate, manipulate and lie on Dr. Frederick Douglass is with militant scholarship.

The alleged scholars have little to no scholarship. This we know and their day of recompense with the historical investigatory tradition of Holland, Gregory, Quarles, Foner, Blassingame and Preston will be upon us if, and when, a new generation of Douglassonian scholars emerge.

Until they do I will provide facts and information found nowhere else, which in all likelihood will be shared elsewhere without attribution. It has happened before and will continue until the condition of Douglass Studies changes.

With that, how many Douglass scholars and experts are familiar with the connection Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry had with both Douglass and Booker T. Washington?

While a student at Harvard Law School Curry, reportedly, heard lectures in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area given by radical editor William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist-agitator Wendell Phillips, statesman-historian George Bancroft, Rufus Choate, former President John Quincy Adams, statesman Daniel Webster and
educators Henry Barnard and Horace Mann.

Curry also heard a young Frederick Douglass orate.

After serving in Congress and serving as a general for the Confederacy Curry became an advocate for education throughout the South. In Curry’s position as agent of the Peabody Education Fund he arranged for a donation of $500 to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in 1883.

In the front matter of Washington’s 1901 autobiography a portrait of Frederick Douglass is followed on the subsequent page with a portrait of Curry.

In fact, Curry offers the introductory letter to Washington’s lesser-cited biographical work, which reads:

I HAVE cheerfully consented to prefix a few words introductory to this autobiography. While I have encouraged its publication, not a sentence has been submitted to my examination. From my intimate acquaintance with the subject, because of my connection with the Peabody and the Slater Education Funds, I am sure the volume has such a strong claim upon the people that no commendation is needed.

The life of Booker T. Washington cannot be written. Incidents of birth, parentage, schooling, early struggles, later triumphs, may be detailed with accuracy, but the life has been so incorporated, transfused, into such a multitude of other lives,–broadening views, exalting ideals, molding character,–that no human being can know its deep and beneficent influence, and no pen can describe it. Few living Americans have made a deeper impression on public opinion, softened or removed so many prejudices, or awakened greater hopefulness in relation to the solution of a problem, encompassed with a thousand difficulties and perplexing the minds of philanthropists and statesmen. His personality is unique, his work has been exceptional, his circle of friendships has constantly widened; his race, through his utterances and labors, has felt an upward tendency, and he himself has been an example of what worth and energy can accomplish and a stimulus to every one of both races, aspiring to a better life and to doing good for others.

It has been said with truth that the race problem requires the patient and wise co-operation of the North and the South, of the white people and the Negroes. It is encouraging to see how one true, wise, prudent, courageous man can contribute far more than many men to the comprehension and settlement of questions which perplex the highest capabilities. Great eras have often revolved around an individual; and, so, in this country, it is singular that, contrary to what pessimists have predicted, a colored man, born a slave, freed by the results of the War, is accomplishing so much toward thorough pacification and good citizenship.

While Mr. Washington has achieved wonders, in his own recognition as a leader and by his thoughtful addresses, his largest work has been the founding and the building up of the Normal and Industrial Institute, at Tuskegee, Alabama. That institution illustrates what can be accomplished under the supervision, control, and teaching of the colored people, and it stands conspicuous for industrial training, for intelligent productive labor, for increased usefulness in agriculture and mechanics, for self- respect and self-support, and for the purification of home- life. A late Circular of the Trustees of Hampton Institute makes the startling statement that “six millions of our Negroes are now living in one. room cabins.” Under such conditions morality and progress are impossible. If the estimate be approximately correct, it enforces the wisdom of Mr. Washington in his earnest crusade against “the one- room cabin”, and is an honorable tribute to the revolution wrought through his students in the communities where they have settled. Every student at Tuskegee, in the proportion of the impression produced by the Principal, becomes a better husband, a better wife, a better citizen, a better man or woman. A series of useful books on the “Great Educators” has been published in England and the United States. While Washington cannot, in learning and philosophy, be ranked with Herbart, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Hopkins, Wayland, Harris, he may be truly classed among those who have wrought grandest results on mind and character.

J. L. M. CURRY

WASHINGTON, D. C.

 

SOURCE:

The Forgotten George Peabody (1795-1869), A Handbook A-Z of the Massachusetts-Born Merchant, London-Based Banker, & Philanthropist: His Life, Influence, and Related People, Places, Events, & Institutions.

Monroe, J. L. M. Education of the Negroes since 1860. 1894

Monroe, J. L. M. The South in Olden Time. 1901

Washington, Booker T. An Autobiography: The Story of My Life and Work. 1901

West, Earle H. “The Peabody Education Fund and Negro Education, 1867-1880.” History of Education QuarterlyVol. 6, No. 2 (Summer, 1966), pp. 3-21

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Congratulations Letter from Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to new Howard University President, Rev. Jeremiah Rankin [December 7, 1889]

Port Au Prince, Dec. 7, 1889.

MY DEAR DR. RANKIN: – I congratulate you on your election to the President of Howard University; but have far greater reason to congratulate the University.

You have taken upon you a great labor of love and have made a great sacrifice. It is like you. You could have easily found many positions, with less exacting, and in many respects, more agreeable conditions. Your talents, I might say your character and genius, would open doors on golden hinges before you, but you have chosen a place, though high, yet among the lowly. May heaven bless you, in, and for the choice you have made. Your heart, how should I not know it? is with my poor, persecuted and struggling people, and no man in my range of acquaintances has larger of more helpful powers.

You cannot only teach the letter, but the spirit of Christianity, so much needed in the Capital of our great Republic. I have never become reconciled to your absence from Washington. You had a fixed position among the moral and religious forces of the city, and were a terror to evil-doers. Your trumpet gave no uncertain sound. It was never your misfortune to be misunderstood. Your language was never made to conceal your thought. You said what you meant, and meant what you said. Trimmers took no stock in you. Hence, the true friends of Temperance and of Freedom deeply regretted the day that saw you depart, and are glad that you have returned.

I am glad that there was courage enough in the Trustee Board to call you. I have had some thought of resigning, because of absence from the country, but I am reluctant to do so, especially since you are President of the University.

I should like to continue with the institution to the end.

SOURCE:

“Editorial Notes.” ‘President Rankin’s Work …’

Our Day, November – December, 1894. No. 78, p. 583.

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Frederick Douglass to Wilbur Siebert about his involvement with the Underground Railroad (March, 1893)

March 27, 1893.

Mr. W. H. Siebert,
Columbus, Ohio.

Dear Sir:

My connection with the Underground Railroad began long before I left the South (1838) and was continued as long as slavery continued, whether I lived in New Bedford, Lynn, or Rochester, N.Y. In the latter place I had as as many as eleven fugitive under my roof at one time.

The route from slavery to freedom, for most of the fugitives, was through Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and thence to Canada, These fugitives were received in Philadelphia by William Still, by him sent to New York where they were cared for my Mr. David Ruggles and afterwards by Mr. Gibbs also of New York, thence to Stephen Myers at Albany; then to J. W. Loguen, Syracuse; thence to Frederick Douglass, Rochester, and thence to Hiram Wilson, St. Catherines, Canada, West.

Mr. Still has written a book called the Underground Railroad, but because I, in my power, permitted a criticism of his conduct in taking from the fugitives who passed through his hands, what was thought was wrong, I see that he has omitted to mention my name in his books, as one of the Conductors on the Underground Railroad.

Very truly yours,

Frederick Douglass.

SOURCE:

Frederick Douglass to Wilbur Siebert, March 27, 1893. OHIO Memory Siebert Collection: Frederick Douglass.

Siebert, Wilbur Henry. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (1898).

Still, William. The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &c., Narrating the Hardships, Hair-breadth Escapes, and Death Struggles of the Slaves in Their Efforts for Freedom, as Related by Themselves and Others Or Witnessed by the Author : Together with Sketches of Some of the Largest Stockholders and Most Liberal Aiders and Advisers of the Road. (1872) 

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