Posts Tagged Lewis Douglass
American Antiquarian Society features Ezra Greenspan discussing “The Lives and Times of Frederick Douglass and His Family: A Composite Biography”[Video]
The Past is Present podcast returns with an interview with Ezra Greenspan. Ezra is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and author of George Palmer Putnam: Representative American Publisher (2000) and William Wells Brown: An African American Life (2014). During the past year, he’s been working on a new book titled The Lives and Times of Frederick Douglass and His Family: A Composite Biography. Ezra is a member of the American Antiquarian Society (elected 2003), was AAS Distinguished Scholar in Residence from 2009 to 2010, and is an AAS-National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow for the 2016-17 academic year.
In this episode, Ezra discusses the research and writing of his latest book on Frederick Douglass’s family; his work as editor of Book History, the annual journal from SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing); and his lifelong relationship with the printed word.
Drummer boy of 54th Massachusetts Vol. Infantry Regiment, Reverend Henry Augustus Monroe, knew Frederick Douglass before his enlistment at age 13 (pt. 1)
Young Men Not Afraid to Perish to the Front!
Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass knew them all.
An adolescent apocalyptic prophet. Front-line fugitive scholar. Outspoken voice of the battle cry of freedom in President Lincoln’s ear.
A select few in the pantheon of American history have walked the earth in their time and era with equal authority of Dr. Douglass.
In Old Anacostia the guardian spirit of Dr. Douglass protects all children who first step on corners which have claimed cousins, older brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, mothers and fathers.
Old men faithfully walking dogs no bigger than a Nike boot commune with Dr. Douglass when they share a word of encouragement with elementary students anxious about the approaching first day of school.
At all hours of the night, to the first light of the day a stately mural of Dr. Douglass looks over the corner of 16th & W Street, ever watchful.
Youngsters in Old Anacostia today see the manifestation of their world famous neighbor, Dr. Douglass, everyday.
Whereas the psyche of the present-day community keeps alive the memory of Dr. Douglass, in his day Dr. Douglass was known to have a youngster’s back, front and both sides.
Many mythomane historians have default retreated to the well-worn path of both least resistance and least scholarship in their proclivity for ascribing speculative predilections and vapid rhetoric as a substitute for research.
Those White Man Lies and White Woman Lies can be taken elsewhere as they will no longer be politely ignored.
If scholars are not discussing or advancing the scholarship of Dr. Douglass they are not welcome.
We have known scholars to speculate the dynamics and motivations for the military enlistment of the Douglass Boys — Lewis, Frederick, Jr. and Charles. As eldest son of a combat veteran United States Marine and older brother to a combat veteran United States Marine we only promote honorable scholarship.
The Douglass boys were raised in the cause. The struggle was the struggle of the Douglass family. The Douglass boys may have been able to play the background when necessary but they were front line liberation warriors, a responsibility they accepted.
Equally, the Douglass boys accepted the responsibility of putting their lives in the danger zone to serve their country. They accepted the responsibility to defend and kill in the name of their country. That is beyond question and speculation.
Who else served in the 54th? Who was Henry Augustus Monroe who enlisted at age 13 to serve as a front-line drummer boy? Monroe and his family were friends with Dr. Douglass and the Douglass family.
Do you think this history has ever been told?
To be continued …
Diary tells of evening of tea & music at Rochester home of Frederick Douglass family in March 1861 on the eve of the Civil War [Never before published full account from diary of Julia Ann Wilbur, friend of Dr. Douglass from Rochester to Washington City]
Women in the World of Frederick Douglass published last year by Oxford University Press has done much to advance an understanding of the consequential and expansive networks Dr. Frederick Douglass ran with, largely overlooked in existing scholarship.
Prof. Leigh Fought’s work is one of the most substantive and important books to join the canon of Douglassoniana Studies since Dickson Preston’s groundbreaking Young Frederick Douglass in the early 1980s.
Douglass’ associations and relationships with women propelled his life and elevated his worldly education from the first recollections of his widely-respected grandmother Betsy Bailey to the last conversation he ever had with his second wife Helen Pitts.
While Prof. Fought’s work places many women in the Douglass network, in documenting the collaborative working relationships and associations in the liberation struggle from the abolitionist movement to suffragist movement there are, of course, many more women to be uplifted in the pages of our fallen history.
Last fall, A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose, was published by Potomac Books, an important addition to the periphery family of Douglassoniana Studies.
According to the publisher:
In the fall of 1862 Julia Wilbur left her family’s farm near Rochester, New York, and boarded a train to Washington DC. As an ardent abolitionist, the forty-seven-year-old Wilbur left a sad but stable life, headed toward the chaos of the Civil War, and spent most of the next several years in Alexandria devising ways to aid recently escaped slaves and hospitalized Union soldiers. A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time shapes Wilbur’s diaries and other primary sources into a historical narrative sending the reader back 150 years to understand a woman who was alternately brave, self-pitying, foresighted, petty—and all too human.
Wilbur’s diary makes numerous mentions of Douglass, including March 1861 evening at the Douglass family home
Throughout Whitacre’s work there are several references to Douglass. The author alludes to the development of Wilbur’s friendship with Douglass from attending lectures to visiting Douglass in his Rochester home for an evening spent with his family listening to music and having tea.
A Civil Life cites Wilbur’s diary as the source for the anecdotal visit to the Douglass home but the full text has never been published before nor included in existing Douglass biography and scholarship. (Please correct me if in error.)
We thank the municipal government of Alexandria, Virginia for making this incredible resource available to scholars and in the same radical spirit of ladies who ran with Dr. Douglass the militant scholarship — never before published material slowly putting together the millions upon millions of pieces of the puzzle — continues like chatterboxes holding the thrown seat on the all-night 70 bus.
This P.M. Mrs. Coleman went with me to Frederick Douglass’ & we took tea with all his family & spent the evening. It was a very pleasant & interesting visit. Mrs. Watkyes & Mrs. Blackhall & Gerty C. were there.
There was sensible and lively conversation & music. Mrs. D. although an uneducated
black woman appeared as well, & did the part of hostess as efficiently as the generality of white women.
The daughter Rosa is as pleasant & well informed & well behaved as girls in
general who have only ordinary advantages of education. The sons Lewis, Freddy, & Charles, aged 21, 19 & 17 respectively, are uncommonly dignified & gentlemanly young men.
They are sober & industrious & are engaged in the grocery business. F. Douglass is away from home much of the time engaged in lecturing. He continues a Monthly Paper & of course it takes a part of his time. It will be one year tomorrow since his little daughter Annie died under such painful circumstances, & they all feel her loss very much.
Apprehensions for her father’s safety, & grief for his absence caused her death. She was a promising child. She was 11 years of age.
h/t Douglassonian Candace Jackson Gray
Frederick Douglass, Jr. letter to Simon Wolf & Simon Wolf letter to Frederick Douglass, Jr. (National Republican, 22 May, 1869)
THE QUESTION OF COLOR.
Application for a Clerkship from Frederick Douglass, jr.
Yesterday Simon Wolf, esq., the newly appointed register of deeds, received the following letter from Frederick Douglass, jr., a brother of Mr. Douglass, at the Government office, (and not the “colored printer at the Government office,” as erroneously stated in the Star of yesterday.) The letter will be read with interest at this time:
Washington, D.C., May 21, 1869.
Simon Wolf, esq., Register of Deeds:
DEAR SIR: I have the honor to request an appointment as clerk in the office of which you have the distinguished honor to be the head. I belong to that despised class which has not been known in the field of applicants for position under the Government heretofore. I served my country during the war, under the colors of Massachusetts, my own native State, and am the son of a man (Frederick Douglass) who was once held in a bondage protected by the laws of this nation; a nation, the perpetuity of which, with many others of my race, I struggled to maintain. I am by trade a printer, but in consequence of combinations entered into by printers’ unions throughout the country, I am unable to obtain employment at it. I therefore hope that you will give this, my application, the most favorable consideration.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FREDERICK DOUGLASS, JR.
To this letter Register Wolf made the following reply:
Washington, D.C., May 21, 1869.
Your application is before me, and has received favorable consideration. I see no reason in the world why you or your race should not have the full countenance in the struggle for progress and education, and I am particularly happy in being the means of encouraging you; for, as a descendant of a race equally maligned and prejudged, I have a feeling of common cause; and who can foresee but what the stone the builders reject may become the head stone of our political and social structure.
“The Question of Color,” 22 May, 1869. The National Republican, 1.
LECTURE: Our Bondage and Our Freedom: Frederick Douglass and Family in the Walter O. Evans Collection (1818-2018) [Annapolis, Feb. 23, 2:00pm – 3:00pm]
While there have been many Frederick Douglasses – Douglass the abolitionist, Douglass the statesman, Douglass the autobiographer, Douglass the orator, Douglass the reformer, Douglass the essayist, and Douglass the politician – as we commemorate his two-hundred anniversary in 2018, it is now time begin to trace the many lives of Douglass as a family man.
Working with the inspirational Frederick Douglass family materials held in the Walter O. Evans Collection, this talk will trace the activism, artistry and authorship of Frederick Douglass not in isolation but alongside the sufferings and struggles for survival of his daughters and sons: Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Remond and Annie Douglass.
As activists, educators, campaigners, civil rights protesters, newspaper editors, orators, essayists, and historians in their own right, Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Remond and Annie Douglass each played a vital role in the freedom struggles of their father. They were no less afraid to sacrifice everything they had as they each fought for Black civic, cultural, political, and social liberties by every means necessary. No isolated endeavor undertaken by an exemplary icon, the fight for freedom was a family business to which all the Douglasses dedicated their lives as their rallying cry lives on to inspire today’s activism: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”
Guest speaker: Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier
Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of Black Studies and Personal Chair of English Literature at the University of Edinbourgh and she is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of American Studies published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Bernier is an esteemed international scholar, having won many notable awards. In 2010. she was the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Art History while in 2011 she was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship. In 2012 she was given a Terra Foundation for American Art Program Grant for an international symposium on African Diasporic art which was held at the University of Oxford. In 2010, she was awarded a University of Nottingham Lord Dearing Award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Teaching and Learning.”
In addition to supervising large numbers of PhDs and MRes to completion, she has held visiting appointments and fellowships at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, King’s College London and the University of California, Santa Barbara, in addition to her recent position as the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Chair in Art History at the University of Memphis (2014-15) and her appointment (2016-17) as the John Hope Franklin Fellow at the National Center for the Humanities in Durham, North Carolina.
Dr. Bernier is a world renowned Frederick Douglass scholar and prominent author. In 2015, she published Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American. For the bicentenary of Frederick Douglass’s birth in 2018, she is preparing a new scholarly edition of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in addition to numerous other publications and activities that will include an exhibition as well as international symposia and public workshops. In 2018, she has numerous forthcoming books about Douglass’s life including, “Struggles for Liberty:” Frederick Douglass’s Family in Letters, Writings, and Photographs; Living Parchments: Artistry and Authorship in the Life and Works of Frederick Douglass; If I Survive: Frederick Douglass and Family in the Walter O. Evans Collection; and “I am the Painter:” Imaging and Imagining Frederick Douglass.
Date and Time: Friday, February 23, 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Legislative Services Building, Joint Hearing Room, 90 State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland
Please note: a valid photo ID is required to enter the Legislative Services building.
Event sponsor: The Honorable Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn
Program is presented by the Maryland State Archives.
[Editor’s Note: In September 2014 we attended a lecture by Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier in the Annapolis State House on the exhaustive research she and Prof. Zoe Trodd conducted in archives throughout the United States and world tracking down photographs of Douglass.]
“The colored printer that is kicking up such a fuss in Washington — Lewis Douglass — was as last year an employee of the Denver Gazette, and was, we believe tabooed by the Denver Typographical Union as a rat.” – Colorado Transcript, May 26, 1869
Lewis H. Douglass profiled in William Wells Brown’s 1874, “The Rising Son: Or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race”
LEWIS H. DOUGLASS
The senior editor of the “New National Era” is the eldest son of Frederick Douglass, and inherits a large share of the father’s abilities. He was born in Massachusetts, has a liberal education, is a practical printer, received excellent training in the office of “The North Star,” at Rochester, New York, and is well calculated to conduct a newspaper. Mr. Douglass distinguished himself at the attack on Fort Wagner, where the lamented Colonel Robert G. Shaw fell. His being the first to ascend the defences surrounding the fort, and his exclamation of “Come, boys, we’ll fight for God and Governor Andrew,” was a the time commented upon by the press of Europe as well as of our own country.
Mr. Douglass is an active, energetic man, deeply alive to every interest of his race, uncompromising in his adherence to principle, and is a valuable citizen in any community. He has held several important positions in Washington, where his influence is great. He is a good writer, well informed, and interesting in conversation. In asserting his rights against the pr0scriptive combinations of the printers of Washington, Mr. Douglass was more than a match or his would-be superiors. As a citizen, he is highly respected, and is regarded as one of the leading men of the district. He is of medium size, a little darker in complexion than his father, has a manly walk, gentlemanly in his manners, intellectual countenance, and reliable in his business dealings. His paper, the “New National Era,” is well conducted, and should received the patronage of our people throughout the country.
Brown, William Wells. The Rising Son: Or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race. A.G. Brown & Company, 1874, p. 543 – 544.
In the late 19th century, while Frederick Douglass lived in Anacostia, scores of notable men and women came to Cedar Hill. In conversation Monday with Mr. Donet D. Graves, Esq. about his ancestor James Wormley, I learned of a dinner Douglass held hosting officials from Liberia.
For Douglassonian scholars this should be of some intrigue because Douglass was forceful in his denunciation of “colonization” efforts throughout his life. Without getting too much into the specific history of Liberia or “colonization” efforts both nationally and in the District, I only learned a couple years ago that there was such a concentration of black Marylanders in Liberia that there was a republic named “Maryland” in Liberia. Maps of Africa from the late 18th century – early 19th century regularly reflect this. Today there is a county in Liberia named Maryland.
Without further delay, here’s the brief news item.
MARSHALL DOUGLASS entertained at dinner at his residence, at Uniontown, yesterday afternoon. Dr. E. W. Blyden, minister of Liberia to England, and Hon. John H. Smythe, U.S. minister resident to Liberia, at which dinner were also present Senator Bruce, Prof. Greener, L. H. Douglass, Robert Parker, James Wormley, Fred. Douglass, jr., and Charles Douglass.
Evening Star. 25 June 1880, p. 1 Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Thank you to Donet D. Graves, Esq., a gentleman and scholar, for this helpful lead.
Happy (belated) 172nd birthday to Lewis Henry Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s eldest & most trusted son, b. Oct. 9, 1840 d. Oct. 9, 1908
Apologies about the lack of recent posts as we’ve been on multiple assignments and deadlines of late. But I wanted to take a moment to wish a Happy (belated) 172nd Birthday to Lewis H. Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s eldest and most trusted son. (Thanks to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site for the b-day reminder!)
Lewis fought for his country. He was a newspaper man. He was a labor man. He was a good uncle. He was also a member of the Legislative Council of the District of Columbia, appointed by President Grant.
Lewis also worked with the Bethel Literary and Historical Society at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church at 1518 M Street NW. He was the only one of Frederick Douglass’s four children who grew to adulthood not to have his own children, as I understand. He lived on 17th Street NW for many years. He worked closely with his father throughout their years together in Washington. He also was born and died on the same day of the same month.
While Lewis Douglass did not reach the heights that Robert Todd Lincoln did, Lewis was much the same in that he was a man on his own. An ambitious young scholar could gather enough material quite easily to write a full book on Lewis and/or Douglass’s children. We hope to see Lewis given his full measure one day.
Incorporation Certificates filed for “The New National Era and Citizens Publishing Company” [New National Era, April 17, 1873]
Messrs. Lewis H. Douglass, James Storum, and Richard T. Greener yesterday filed in the office of the Recorder of Deeds a certification of incorporation of “The New National Era and Citizen’s Publishing Company,” the capital stock of which is fixed at $20,000, with the following trustees: L. H. Douglass, R. W. Tompkins, George D. Johnson, R. T. Greener, John H. Cook, Charles R. Douglass, and Frederick Douglass, Jr. – Daily Morning Chronicle.