Posts Tagged President Grant

Frederick Douglass as “The Dark Horse” of politics, says socialite & President Grant’s daughter-in-law Mrs. Ida Marie Honoré Grant

On a recent walking tour I shared some brief insights into the humorous disposition of Frederick Douglass and his fondness to make jokes in public and private settings. On this blog, on occasion over the years, we have shared examples of the humor of Douglass that can be found in his speeches, writings, official government records and newspaper reports.

As cited in a 2003 journal article, “‘He Made Us Laugh Some:’ Frederick Douglass’s Humor,” in Life and Times Douglass wrote, “I have been greatly helped to bear up under unfriendly conditions, too, by a constitutional tendency to see the funny sides of things, which has enabled me to laugh at follies that others would soberly resent.

The account below demonstrates one of the incidents where Douglass could enjoy a joke.


The Dark Horse.

From the Cincinnati Times-Star.

Frederick Douglass often laughed over a witticism of Mrs. Fred Grant’s at his expense, when they met at the Chicago convention of 1888. “I was sitting with Mrs. Grant and her party watching the balloting,” said he to a friend. “To my surprise, one vote was cast for me for President of the United States. It had no sooner been announced by the tellers than Mrs. Grant turned to me, and, with the most charming smile imaginable, said: “You must be the dark horse of this convention, Mr. Douglass.”


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Society of the Army of Cumberland invites Frederick Douglass, Esquire to Local Executive Committee meeting at the Ebbitt House; a note on misleading “memory history” of the Civil War and Dr. Douglass


Following the Union Army’s defeat of the Confederate States Army the process of Reconstruction was led by many individuals and institutions. The interconnectedness and intersectionality of Dr. Douglass to these reconstructive efforts superabounds in existing documents, reports, memoirs, ephemera, newspaper accounts and lost histories.

Major Charles R. Douglass was active in the Grand Army of the Republic. His father, Dr. Frederick Douglass, while not a direct combat veteran was a recruiter for the Union and thusly welcomed into the fraternity of organizations which sought to promote the values of liberty and brotherhood in which hundreds of thousands had made the ultimate sacrifice for.

While speculative scholarship has proliferated in recent decades, under the troubling, incomplete and selective guise, or rather paradigm, of “memory history” promoted by popular American historians, there is an unavailability of scholarship on the organizations and networks in which Dr. Douglass ran.

Communities of journalists, politicians, educators, abolitionists, suffragists, preachers and artisans are all groups known to have close associations and connections with Dr. Frederick Douglass but their presence and relevance to the complete story has yet to be told. The folks that yammer about intersectionality have no clue what they are talking about. They have buzz-fuzz cliches and phrases not scholarship and research.

In post-Civil War Washington City generals and rank officers were legion. Union veterans Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur and Benjamin Harrison served as American Presidents and Dr. Douglass ran with them all. You scholars already know about General Oliver Otis Howard but who else is known?

Among veterans of both the Union and the Confederate States of America Dr. Douglass commanded respect. Few historians who invoke the name of Dr. Douglass convey this truth. Memory historians have failed to uplift the fallen history.

W Street Douglassonians are not wrong in expecting lauded historians to muster more than a pseudo-psycho speculative interpretation, or rather a “memory history,” of Dr. Douglass’ April 1876 Oration Delivered on the Occasion of the Unveiling of the Freedmen’s Monument. A focus on this singular speech of Dr. Douglass again, and again and again is an incomplete history, a selective history, a convenient history, a lazy history and most importantly a misleading and dishonest history.

Until a new generation and a new collective of historians emerge to challenge the repetitive status quo of simp history half-truths and untruths will masquerade as truth.

JM


 

DOCUMENT:

Invitation of General Henry Clark Corbin (via Judge Arthur MacArthur), Society of the Army of the Cumberland, Headquarters Local Executive Committee to Frederick Douglass, Esquire.

SOURCE:

Frederick Douglass Papers, Correspondence
Folder, 1879
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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GATH on Dr. Frederick Douglass: “Fred. Douglass comes from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and has a good oystery nature about him. He opens up well.” (1872)

Townsend & Twain

Townsend on the left, Twain in the middle.

Street journalists stick together today as they have forever.

As the most radical journalist birthed in America Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass ran with fellow street journalists.

Although largely forgotten today, George Alfred Townsend was a fellow Eastern Shoreman who ran alongside Editor Douglass and within similar circles of radical Reconstruction Washington City journalists.

For decades GATH tracked and chronicled America’s Pharaoh. GATH shared a mutual affection for the naturalism of Chesapeake Country with Dr. Douglass.

They corresponded. GATH stepped through Cedar Hill.

As radical journalists and Eastern Shoremen Gath and Dr. Douglass were brothers in ink and tidewater.

In late 1872, following the re-election of Republican President Grant over challenger, radical newspaperman and Liberal Republican, Horace Greeley, GATH dropped some words that were circulated throughout the country.


Fred. Douglass and Langston are set down in the papers as not loving each other overmuch. This Langston is an unreliable, nearly-white fellow, with considerable ability at phrase making and not much sense. He is ever lasting in search of office, and Douglass, who is a well-ordered man, with a round head, is reported to have gone to President Grant and snubbed Langston’s aspirations.

Langston’s notion was that the colored race should have some Cabinet position, because it had voted for Grant, and he had constructed himself into the representative of the colored race as aforesaid.

Douglass had sense enough to know that color is a pretty mean qualification, except for matrimony, and that Langston would make a donkey of himself in whatever position he could get.

Fred. Douglass comes from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and has a good oystery nature about him. He opens up well.


SOURCE:

Muller, John. The Lion of Anacostia (Blog), “GATH on Dr. Frederick Douglass: Fred. Douglass comes from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and has a good oystery nature about him. He opens up well.” 14 September, 2018

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Educator Mrs. Fanny Jackson Coppin, namesake of Coppin State University in Baltimore, ran with industrial education advocate Dr. Frederick Douglass

In celebration of Women’s History Month we will make an effort to post weekly about reformist-minded women Dr. Frederick Douglass agitated and ran with in the circles of temperance, suffrage, journalism, education and other activist causes and purposes.

The first woman we feature is educator Mrs. Fanny Jackson Coppin, remembered today by the university on the west side of North Avenue in Baltimore which bears her name.

Whereas another day awaits a detailed account of the working relationship and friendship between Douglass and Coppin, here we share a brief excerpt from Coppin’s 1913 book with a brief anecdote detailing Douglass’ belief in industrial education as a means of economic self-determination.

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In the year 1837, the Friends of Philadelphia had established a school for the education of colored youth in higher learning. To make a test whether or not the Negro was capable of acquiring any considerable degree of education. For it was one of the strongest arguments in the defense of slavery, that the Negro was an inferior creation; formed by the Almighty for just the work he was doing.

It is said that John C. Calhoun made the remark, that if there could be found a Negro that could conjugate a Greek verb, he would give up all his preconceived ideas of the inferiority of the Negro. Well, let’s try him, and see, said the fair-minded Quaker people. And for years this institution, known as the Institute for Colored Youth, was visited by interested persons from different parts of the United States and Europe.

Here I was given the delightful task of teaching my own people, and how delighted I was to see them mastering Caesar, Virgil, Cicero, Horace and Xenophon’s Anabasis. We also taught New Testament Greek. It was customary to have public examinations once a year, and when the teachers were thru examining their classes, any interested person in the audience was requested to take it up, and ask questions. At one of such examinations, when I asked a titled Englishman to take the class and examine it, he said: “They are more capable of examining me, their proficiency is simply wonderful.”

One visiting friend was so pleased with the work of the students in the difficult metres in Horace that he afterwards sent me, as a present, the Horace which he used in college. A learned Friend from Germantown, coming into a class in Greek, the first aorist, passive and middle, being so neatly and correctly written at one board, while I, at the same time, was hearing a class recite, exclaimed: “Fanny, I find thee driving a coach and six.” As it is much more difficult to drive a coach and six, than a coach and one, I took it as a compliment. But I was especially glad to know that the students were doing their work so well as to justify Quakers in their fair-minded opinion of them.

General O. O. Howard, who was brought in at one time by one of the managers to hear an examination in Virgil, remarked that Negroes in trigonometry and the classics might well share in the triumphs of their brothers on the battlefield.

When I came to the School, the Principal of the Institute was Ebenezer D. Bassett, who for fourteen years had charge of the work. He was a graduate of the State Normal School of Connecticut, and was a man of unusual natural and acquired ability, and an accurate and ripe scholar; and, withal, a man of great modesty of character. Many are the reminiscences he used to give of the visits of interested persons to the school: among these was a man who had written a book to prove that the Negro was not a man. And, having heard of the wonderful achievements of this Negro school, he determined to come and see for himself what was being accomplished. He brought a friend with him, better versed in algebra than himself, and asked Mr. Bassett to bring out his highest class. There was in the class at that time Jesse Glasgow, a very black boy. All he asked was a chance. Just as fast as they gave the problems, Jesse put them on the board with the greatest ease. This decided the fate of the book, then in manuscript form, which, so far as we know, was never published. Jesse Glasgow afterwards found his way to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

In the year 1869, Mr. Bassett was appointed United States Minister to Hayti by President Grant; leaving the principalship of the Institute vacant. Now, Octavius V. Catto, a professor in the school, and myself, had an opportunity to keep the school up to the same degree of proficiency that it attained under its former Principal and to carry it forward as much as possible.

March 30 1876 _ FMJ to FD

Letter from Fanny Jackson to Frederick Douglass, 30 March 1876. Courtesy of LOC, Douglass Papers.

About this time we were visited by a delegation of school commissioners, seeking teachers for schools in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. These teachers were not required to know and teach the classics, but they were expected to come into an examination upon the English branches, and to have at their tongue’s end the solution of any abstruse problem in the three R’s which their examiners might be inclined to ask them. And now, it seemed best to give up the time spent in teaching Greek and devote it to the English studies.

As our young people were now about to find a ready field in teaching, it was thought well to introduce some text books on school management, and methods of teaching, and thoroughly prepare our students for normal work. At this time our faculty was increased by the addition of Richard T. Greener, a graduate of Harvard College, who took charge of the English Department, and Edward Bouchet, a graduate of Yale College, and also of the Sheffield Scientific School, who took charge of the scientific department. Both of these young men were admirably fitted for their work. And, with Octavius V. Catto in charge of the boys’ department, and myself in charge of the girls–in connection with the principalship of the school–we had a strong working force.

I now instituted a course in normal training, which at first consisted only of a review of English studies, with the theory of teaching, school management and methods. But the inadequacy of this course was so apparent that when it became necessary to reorganize the Preparatory Departments, it was decided to put this work into the hands of the normal students, who would thus have ample practice in teaching and governing under daily direction and correction. These students became so efficient in their work that they were sought for and engaged to teach long before they finished their course of study.

Richard Humphreys, the Friend–Quaker–who gave the first endowment with which to found the school, stipulated that it should not only teach higher literary studies, but that a Mechanical and Industrial Department, including Agriculture, should come within the scope of its work. The wisdom of this thoughtful and far-seeing founder has since been amply demonstrated.

At the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, the foreign exhibits of work done in trade schools opened the eyes of the directors of public education in America as to the great lack existing in our own system of education. If this deficiency was apparent as it related to the white youth of the country, it was far more so as it related to the colored.

In Philadelphia, the only place at the time where a colored boy could learn a trade, was in the House of Refuge, or the Penitentiary!

And now began an eager and intensely earnest crusade to supply this deficiency in the work of the Institute for Colored Youth.

The teachers of the Institute now vigorously applied their energies in collecting funds for the establishment of an Industrial Department, and in this work they had the encouragement of the managers of the school, who were as anxious as we that the greatly needed department should be established.

In instituting this department, a temporary organization was formed, with Mr. Theodore Starr as President, Miss Anna Hallowell as Treasurer, and myself as Field Agent.

Illustration

The Academic Department of the Institute had been so splendidly successful in proving that the Negro youth was equally capable as others in mastering a higher education, that no argument was necessary to establish its need, but the broad ground of education by which the masses must become self-supporting was, to me, a matter of painful anxiety.

Frederick Douglass once said, it was easier to get a colored boy into a lawyer’s office than into a blacksmith shop; and on account of the inflexibility of the Trades Unions, this condition of affairs still continues, making it necessary for us to have our own “blacksmith shop.”

The minds of our people had to be enlightened upon the necessity of industrial education.

SOURCE:

Jackson-Coppin, Fanny. Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints of Teaching. Philadelphia, PA. 1913.

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The District Judiciary, 1881, Marshal Frederick Douglass [Boyd’s City Directory – Washington, DC]

THE DISTRICT JUDICIARY

Criminal Court – District Court – Common Law Court – Equity Court

Chief Justice – David Kellog Cartter  (Appointed chief justice by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.)

Associate Justice – Alexander Burton Hagner,  (Appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879.)

Associate Justice – Andrew Wylie (Appointed by President Lincoln in 1863, confirmed by the Senate in 1864.)

Associate Justice – Walter Smith Cox (Appointed by Hayes in 1879.)

Associate Justice – Charles Pinckney James (Appointed by Hayes in 1879.)

Associate Justice – Arthur MacArthur (Appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870.)

Clerk – R. J. Meigs

US Marshal – Frederick Douglass

US Deputy Marshal – L P Williams

US District Attorney – H. H. Wells

Asst. US District Attorney – H. H. Wells, Jr.

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Frederick Douglass tells President Lincoln the four keys to successfully enlisting colored troops in the Union cause

In the past five years there have been nearly a half dozen books published examining the lives and relationship of Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln, largely centering on the two documented meetings between these titans of 19th century American history.  (Special shout out to Paul and Stephen Kendrick’s must-read Douglass and Lincoln: How a Revolutionary Black Leader & a Reluctant Liberator Struggled to End Slavery & Save the Union.)

One of the first books to merge these two self-made men was Allen Thorndike Rice’s 1886 work, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by distinguished men of his time.

Contributors include former congressmen, a former Vice President, journalist Benjamin Perley Poore, Walt Whitman, General Benjamin “Spoons” F. Butler, General / President Ulysses S. Grant, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, and many others including Frederick Douglass, who was denoted as “Ex-United States Marshal of the District of Columbia.”

Douglass tells of his first interview with President Lincoln “in the summer of 1863, soon after the Confederate States had declared their purpose to treat colored soldiers as insurgents, and their purpose not to treat any such soldiers as prisoners of war subject to exchange like other soldiers.”

To “make [the colored troops] branch of the service successful” Douglass told President Lincoln he “must do four things:

“First – You must give colored soldiers the same pay that you give white soldiers. 

“Second – You must compel the Confederate States to treat colored soldiers, when prisoners, as prisoners of war.

“Third – When any colored man or soldiers performs brave, meritorious exploits in the field, you must enable me to say to those that I recruit that they will be promoted for such service precisely as white men are promoted for similar service.

“Fourth – In case any colored soldiers are murdered in cold blood and taken prisoners, you should retaliate in kind.”

Before phrases such as “go hard” or “go ham” were introduced into our vernacular, Frederick Douglass told President Lincoln what time it was.

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