Posts Tagged Maryland
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.
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.
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.
ANNIVERSARY 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.
Monday, October 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM (Washington County)
Hagerstown Community College
111400 Robinwood Drive
Career Programs Building Rooms 211 & 213
Frederick Douglass Family Matters: “A COLORED BROTHER OF THE M. E. CHURCH ROBBED OF AN ADOPTED CHILD WITH IMPUNITY BY A RICH WHITE BROTHER OF THE SAME CHURCH.”
In recent weeks we’ve learned of the legend of John Creighton.
For and in his name and the community of street historians he organized and gathered we will continue to rush the speculative revisionist historians with the facts.
And if folks such as Yale Professor David Blight continue in their blatant thievery of our sources, citations and information without attribution there will be further fury in the complete dismantling of “professional historians” who have less personal integrity than the lowest low-life dirty rotten scoundrel.
What differentiates Prof. Blight and the below described “rich Methodist” in their personal pursuit of profit through immorality?
Blight’s immorality is the profiteering of his speculative and revisionist scholarship, against the doctrine of Douglassonianism. The immorality of the “rich Methodist” is the profiteering of slavery, against the doctrine of Methodism.
No language can describe the disgrace that David Blight is to the uplifting of Douglassonian scholarship.
Out of the Ivory Towers, out of the Ivy Leagues comes David Blight’s speculative garbage.
Out of enslavement came Dr. Douglass and his entire tribe.
The facts in the case are substantially these. A free colored man, and cousin of Frederick Douglass, who was liberated by Capt. Thomas Auld, of Talbot County (and I will just here say, without the knowledge or consent of Capt. Auld, that he has manumitted some six or eight young colored men and women since 1844), married a woman who was also free.
They had no children of their own; but a free colored woman, on her decease, had left them her little daughter to bring up. This man was sober and industrious, and a good painter. The little girl was old enough to be of great service to his wife, who was afflicted with partial blindness.
According to the laws of Maryland a white man can seize a free colored man’s children, take them before a magistrate, and have them bound to service against the consent of the parents. On the holy Sabbath, a rich Methodist, accompanied by a constable, went to the house of the colored man while he was absent, carried off the girl, and on Monday morning took her before a magistrate and had her bound to service.
A Methodist of standing took the part of the poor colored man, and appealed to the Orphans’ Court of Talbot County; but the Court decided that the oppressor had violated no law, and the counsel of the latter stated to the Court that the laws of Maryland did not recognize the parental relation among negroes any more than they recognized that which exists among brutes.
I then urged the preacher in charge to have the delinquent brought before the church. A committee was appointed; but the man was acquitted. And this moral and religious kidnapper is still in the church, and, I suppose, contributes his mite towards sending missionaries to convert the heathen.
Research that research assistants for David Blight or David Blight himself has been shown to take without attribution.
“Frederick Douglass Snowden” headstone at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church cemetery in Brookeville, Maryland
A couple months back I connected with Rebecca Shier of WAMU 88.5’s Metro Connection to ride through the old country roads and kinship communities of northern Montgomery County, Maryland.
In the cemetery at the corner of Brookeville and Zion roads is a headstone for “Frederick Douglass Snowden,” born just two years and two days after his namesake died.
In the previous American generations, I’ve always wondered how many children were christened “Frederick Douglass ________”? One of the most well-known of these men was Frederick Douglass Patterson, born in 1901. Patterson founded the United Negro College Fund and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan.
On page 156 of Josiah Henson’s 1878 autobiography he recalls meeting Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe in “the vicinity of Andover, Mass., in the year 1849.”
In 1789 Henson was born a a slave in Charles County, Maryland. At the time of meeting Stowe in 1849, Henson had escaped American slavery, fled to Canada and dictated his autobiography. Meeting with Stowe, Henson told her about slavery in the greater Washington area,
“She manifested so much interest in me, that I told her about the peculiarities of many slaveholders, and the slaves in the region where I had lived for forty-two years. My experiences had been more varied than those of the majority of slaves, for I was not only my master’s overseer, but a market-man for twenty-five years in the market at Washington, going there to sell the produce from my master’s plantation.”
Henson would later meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes. Their meeting had been arranged in part by Marshal Frederick Douglass.
Charles Douglass calls swearing-in of Senator H.R. Revels “one of the greatest days” in “the history of this country.” Tells his father “the door is open, and I expect yet to see you pass in”
The first black American seated as a member of the United States Senate was Hiram Rhodes Revels representing Mississippi. Revels filled the seat vacated by Jefferson Davis, who left to serve as the President of the Confederate States of America, truly the personification of Lord Byron’s famous line in the long-form poem, “Don Juan,” that “truth is stranger than fiction.” Indeed.
According to Black Americans in Congress, “Revels arrived in Washington at the end of January 1870, but could not present his credentials until Mississippi was readmitted to the United States on February 23. Senate Republicans sought to swear in Revels immediately afterwards, but Senate Democrats were determined to block the effort. Led by Senator Garrett Davis of Kentucky and Senator Willard Saulsbury of Delaware, the Democrats claimed Revels’s election was null and void, arguing that Mississippi was under military rule and lacked a civil government to confirm his election. Others claimed Revels was not a U.S. citizen until the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868 and was therefore ineligible to become a U.S. Senator. Senate Republicans rallied to his defense. Though Revels would not fill Davis’s seat, the symbolism of a black man’s admission to the Senate after the departure of the former President of the Confederacy was not lost on Radical Republicans. Nevada Senator James Nye underlined the significance of this event: “[Jefferson Davis] went out to establish a government whose cornerstone should be the oppression and perpetual enslavement of a race because their skin differed in color from his,” Nye declared. “Sir, what a magnificent spectacle of retributive justice is witnessed here today! In the place of that proud, defiant man, who marched out to trample under foot the Constitution and the laws of the country he had sworn to support, comes back one of that humble race whom he would have enslaved forever to take and occupy his seat upon this floor.”
Up in the Senate Gallery that day, taking all of this in, was Charles R. Douglass. In a February 26th letter, to his “Father,” Frederick Douglass, Charles wrote,
Yesterday was one of the greatest days to me, in the history of this country. I was present and listened to the dying groans of the last of the Democracy, it was on the occasion of administering the oath to H.R. Revels as U.S. Senator. The Democrats fought hard, but were met on all sides with unanswerable arguments on behalf of justice and right. The fight was on the citizenship of colored men. Even that dead & odious “Dred Scott Decision” was lugged in by the Democrats to show that blacks were not citizens, but Senators Scott of Pennsylvania, Drake of Mo., Stewart of Nev., Nye of Nev., Sawyer of S.C., Trumbull & many others knocked that decision higher than a kite, by their strong and logical arguments. Senator Wilson appeared to be the happiest man in the whole body not even excepting Revels, who advanced to the desk and took the oath in a very dignified manner. I hope that he may bear up under the new responsibilities, but I fear he is weak.
Many voices in the Galleries were heard by me to say, ‘If it would only have been Fred Douglass,’ and my heart beat rapidly when I looked into that crowded Gallery, and upon the crowded floor, to notice the deep and great interest manifested all around, it looked solemn and the thought flashed from my mind that that honor, for the first time conferred upon a colored man, should have been conferred upon you and I am satisfied that many Senators would much more willingly see you come there than to see that Reverend gentlemen who has just taken his seat.
But the door is open, and I expect yet to see you pass in, not though, as a tool as I think this man is, to fill out an unexpired term of one year, earning from a state too that has a large majority – of colored votes; but from your native state to fill the chair for the long and fullest term of either Vickers or Hamilton – who only yesterday, made long wails and harangues against negro citizenship.”
Frederick Douglass never did run for a seat in the United States Senate, nor was he appointed.
To this day there have only been six black American members of the United States Senate, five elected. Only three have served full-terms. The six are Revels (R) Mississippi, Blanche Kelso Bruce (R) Mississippi [full-term], Washington, DC’s own Edward Brooke (R) Massachusetts [full-term, 2], Carol Mosley Braun (D) Illinois [full-term], Barack Obama (D) Illinois (vacated his seat when he won the 2008 Presidential race), Roland Burris (D) Illinois (filled seat vacated by Obama).