Posts Tagged North Star
LOOK! Douglassonian Muralist Shawn Dunwoody debuts distinctive Dr. Frederick Douglass, Editor Emeritus of Radical Journalists, “Each One … Teach One!”
This past weekend in Rochester, New York on the ground once the homestead of the Anna & Frederick Douglass family indigenous Douglassonian and polymath Shawn Dunwoody, with helping hands from local students and community volunteers, created the most distinctive and modern Frederick Douglass murals in the known world.
Deviating from traditional form, Dunwoody has enlivened Dr. Douglass and brought him to life anew.
I am familiar with murals in my areas and have studied Prof. Zoe Trodd’s expansive documentation of Douglass murals internationally.
In my estimation, this mural is most revolutionary in its presentation of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass as Editor Emeritus of Radical Journalists.
Therefore it is my personal favorite.
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.)
“I do not want to go in as Fredeic[k] Douglass, but as a citizen of the United States,” radical abolitionist Rev. Calvin Fairbank recalling reception at Executive Mansion for President Lincoln’s 2nd inauguration.
Among radical white abolitionists John Brown was but a singular force of an expansive collective that ranged the entire country. Due Brown’s radical action and close association with Frederick Douglass he has maintained a presence in our contemporary historic consciousness. A play portraying Douglass and Brown was recently staged at the Anacostia Playhouse.
Orating, writing, editing and breathing abolition for more than two decades on the public stage Dr. Douglass accumulated associations and friendships with thousands upon thousands of fellow reformists.
Some were extreme. Not just John Brown.
Rev. Calvin Fairbank was imprisoned in Kentucky for aiding slaves in an attempted escape. He was pardoned. Imprisoned again for aiding slaves in an attempted escape. Nearly did twenty.
Dr. Douglass, a radical newspaperman, published letters from Rev. Fairbank in his newspaper.
After his pardon, Fairbank and his wife traveled to Washington City to attend the second inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. In the assemblage at Washington City was Dr. Frederick Douglass.
Following President’s Lincoln Second Inaugural Address Rev. Fairbank, along with his wife and thousands of Washingtonians, attended a reception at the Executive Mansion.
In 1890 Rev. Fairbank condensed nearly twelve hundred pages of autobiography into a workable five hundred pages in which he offers an additional footnote to the well told interaction between Dr. Douglass and President Lincoln:
[B]efore the fall of Richmond, March 30, when we took a steamer for “Washington, after some most magnificent demonstrations of loyalty to us, to the United States,
and to God by that people who for two hundred years had been crushed under the heel of despotism.
There were several large Africo-American churches there which were unable to hold more than a small minority of the people who crowded every place where we appeared. The white rebels avoided us.
President Lincoln’s Inauguration.
March 4th, 1865, was a most horrid morning. Rain fell in broken sheets, driven by the wind; but people came just the same, moving toward the Capitol until twelve M. The mud in Pennsylvania Avenue was hub deep — a canal of batter; and I stood with my good wife from nine a.m. until twelve M. in front of the great platform, standing on bricks as the rain dashed upon a thousand umbrellas.
Without regard to rain, we took our positions near the front platform where the great event was to occur, Mrs. Fairbank standing each foot on two bricks where,
protected by three umbrellas, we remained three hours, until twelve M., when the immortal pageant burst from the columns of the Capitol.
The rain had ceased, the clouds hastened to their chambers; and nature assumed an air of joy and serenity rarely witnessed on that day.
Then the short, pointed, brave declaration of the mind of the Chief Executive of the Nation — “DROP FOR DROP: LASH FOR LASH.”
At the levee that night thirty thousand people passed in and out of the White House.
At one time a throng was pressing the door of the room where the President received his guests, and Frederic[k] Douglass among others pressed to the door, when “Hold on!” — and others kept passing in.
“Hold on! You can’t go in now. It is not convenient.”
“How is that? I see others passing in.”
Some one interfered, — “This is Frederic[k] Douglass.”
When Douglass, — “Never mind. I do not want to go in as Frederic Douglass; but as a citizen of the United States.”
Here comes the great man of the age, President Lincoln, with his long arm extended over heads and through the crowd. — “WHY, HOW DO YOU DO, FREDERIC[K]? COME RIGHT IN!”
Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times: How he “Fought the Good Fight” to Prepare “The Way.” (Edited from His Manuscript.) R. & R. McCabe & Co. Publishers, Chicago. 1890.
Daily American Directory of the City of Rochester, 1849-1850, p. 254.
Dr. Frederick Douglass ran with them all. They all ran with Dr. Frederick Douglass.
William Cooper Nell, Martin Delany, Julia Griffiths, Mary Ann Shadd and others are often identified as editing and/or corresponding for The North Star and/or subsequent publications edited by Douglass but have you heard of Dr. William Henry Johnson?
From his 1900 biography …
During the first year of the Civil War he was the war correspondent of James Redpath’s “Pine and Palm,” published at Boston, Mass. He was first with the Army of the Potomac during the three month’s campaign. He then joined the Burnside expedition and did service in North Carolina. At times he has been the Albany correspondent of Frederick Douglass’ Rochester paper, “The North Star,” the “Christian Recorder,” Philadelphia “The Freeman,” and “The Age,” New York city, and the “State Republican,” Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1892 he published and edited “The Calcium Light,” an independent journal, at Albany, and to-day, at intervals is publishing “The Albany Capital.”
Dr. Frederick Douglass reflects on Myrtilla Miner, radical white educator and founder of Normal School for Colored Girls which became District of Columbia Teachers College
His whole come up and until his last days Dr. Frederick Douglass ran with visionary radicals of all tribes, nationalities, ethnicities, genders and faiths.
A lesser-known revolutionary, who we feel most appropriate to recognize during Women’s History Month, is none other than Myrtilla Miner, a local legend in the folklore of Old Washington City.
To keep it funky, Myrtilla Miner was counseled by Dr. Frederick Douglass to pump the brakes on her radical vision to establish a school in Washington City to educate “colored girls” in the early 1850s. Miner disregarded the advice and set up shop in Washington City, protecting her square until her death in 1864.
During his years as a Washingtonian Douglass could never pass Miner’s school without reflecting on its namesake.
You have often urged me to tell you the little (and it is but little) I remember
of Miss Myrtilla Miner, the founder of what is now the Normal School for Colored Girls in the city of Washington. The task is, in every sense, an agreeable one.
If we owe it to the generations that go before us, and to those which come after us, to make some record of the good deeds we have with in our journey through life, and to perpetuate the memory and example of those who have in a signal manner made themselves serviceable to suffering humanity, we certainly should not forget the brave little woman who first invaded the city of Washington, to establish here a school for the education of a class long despised and neglected.
As I look back to the moral surroundings of the time and place when that school was begun, and the state of public sentiment which then existed in the North as well as in the South; when I remember how low the estimation in which colored people were then held, how little sympathy there was with any effort to dispel their ignorance, diminish their hardships, alleviate their suffering, or soften their misfortunes, I marvel all the more at the thought, the zeal, the faith, and the courage of Myrtilla Miner in daring to be the pioneer of such a movement for education here, in the District of Columbia, the very citadel of slavery, the place most zealously watched and guarded by the slave power, and where humane tendencies were most speedily detected and sternly opposed.
It is now more than thirty years (but such have been the changes wrought that it seems a century) since Miss Miner, in company with Joseph and Phebe Hathaway (brother and sister), called upon me at my printing-office in Rochester, New York, and found me at work, busily mailing my paper, the North Star.
It was my custom to continue my work, no matter who came, and hence I barely looked up to give them welcome, supposing the call to be an ordinary one, perhaps of sympathy with my work, or, more likely, an act of mere curiosity, and continued. I was not long permitted, however, to treat my callers in this unceremonious way. I soon found I was in a presence that demanded my whole attention. A slender, wiry, pale (not over healthy), but singularly animated figure was before me, and startled me with the announcement that she was then on her way to the city of Washington to establish a school for the education of colored girls.
I stopped mailing my paper at once,and gave attention to what was said. I was amazed, and looked to see if the lady was in earnest and meant what she said.
“The doubt in my mind was transient. I saw at a glance that the fire of a real enthusiasm lighted her eyes, and the true martyr spirit flamed in her soul. My feelings were those of mingled joy and sadness.
Here, I thought, is another enterprise, wild, dangerous, desperate, and impracticable, destined only to bring failure and suffering. Yet I was deeply moved with admiration by the heroic purpose of the delicate and fragile person who stood, or rather moved, to and fro before me, for she would not accept a chair.
She seemed too full of her enterprise to think of her own ease, and hence kept in motion all the time she was in my office. Mr. and Miss Hathaway remained silent. Miss Miner and myself did the talking. She advocated the feasibility of her enterprise, and I (timid and faithless) opposed in all earnestness. She said she knew the South; she had lived among slave-holders; she had even taught slaves to read in Mississippi; and she was not afraid of violence in the District of Columbia.
To me, the proposition was reckless, almost to the point of madness. In my fancy, I saw this fragile little woman harassed by the law, insulted in the street, a victim of slave holding malice, and, possibly, beaten down by the mob. The fate of Prudence Crandall in Connecticut and the then recent case of Mrs. Douglass at Norfolk were be fore me; also my own experience in at tempting to teach a Sunday-school in St. Michael’s; and I dreaded the experience which, I feared, awaited Miss Miner.
My argument made no impression upon the heroic spirit before me. Her resolution was taken, and was not to be shaken or changed.
The result, I need not say, has justified her determination.
I never pass by the Miner Normal School for Colored Girls in this city without a feeling of self-reproach that I could have said aught to quench the zeal, shake the faith, and quail the courage of the noble woman by whom it was founded, and whose name it bears.
WASHINGTON, May 4, 1883.
Myrtilla Miner: A Memoir (1885)
Bender, Kim. “Myrtilla Miner’s School for African American Girls,” C-SPAN, August 30, 2017,
Frederick Douglass is the father of the black press. In 1847, one-hundred and sixty-five years ago today, The North Star was first published.
From Daniel Wallace Culp’s 1902 Twentieth Century Negro Literature: Or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American Negro:
“This demand for a Negro journal was first met between 1827 and 1834 by unpretentious sheets in and about New York City. But it was not until 1847 that race journalism became a positive factor, when that intrepid spirit, Frederick Douglass, launched “The North Star.” This great man built up a circulation upon two continents and wielded an influence not exceeded by any subsequent race venture. That paper blazed a wide path, and in its path followed enterprise after enterprise, developing the sentiment for liberty and keeping in touch with the newer requirements of the hour.”
Douglass’ own thoughts on the black press captured in Irvine Garland Penn’s 1891 The Afro-American Press and Its Editors:
“I think the course to be pursued by the colored Press is to say less about race and claims to race recognition and more about the principles of justice, liberty, and patriotism. It should say more of what we ought to do for ourselves, and less about what the Government ought to do for us; more in the interest of morality and economy and less in the interest of office-getting; more in commending the faithful and inflexible men who stand up for our rights, and less for the celebration of balls, parties, and brilliant entertainments; more in respect to the duty of the Government to protect and defend the colored man’s rights in the South, and less in puffing individual men for office; less of arrogant assumption for the colored man, and more of appreciation of his disadvantages, in comparison with those of other varieties of men who opportunities have been broader and better than his.”