Posts Tagged President Harrison

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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Frederick Douglass looks dead at the camera for photo of the Republican Notification Committee, Washington, D.C., Monday, June 20th, 1892 [NMAAHC]

Republican Notification Committee, Washington, D.C., Monday, June 20th, 1892A black-and-white photograph of men seated and standing in front of a doorway. They wear coats, many wear ties, and several hold bowler and top-hats. At the bottom right of the photograph is the address, “11th and Pa. Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.”

Below the photograph is written “Republican Notification Committee / Washington, D.C., / Monday, June 20th 1892.” Frederick Douglass stands at the back, just left of the doorway.

FD _ closeA close-up of the visage of Douglass, the look of a man with serious life lived.

While many in the photo seem to have their attentions focused elsewhere or have their eyes slightly askew, Douglass is looking directly at the camera, dead eye.

 

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Frederick Douglass interested spectator as Cuban Giants defeat All-Washington club in an 1891 baseball game [Washington Post, Sept. 1, 1891]

Frederick Douglass was a baseball man. His son, Charles, organized and played on Washington, DC-based colored teams in postbellum Washington. The Washington Mutual and later Alerts both traveled up the East Coast to play in other cities and they defended their home turf at bygone fields like Olympic Grounds

The Cuban Giants, arguably the first professional black baseball team years before the Negro Leagues successfully organized, barnstormed across the country playing, and usually defeating, the most competitive colored teams each city could offer up.

In late summer 1891, Frederick Douglass just returned to the United States from his position as Minister to Haiti for the Harrison administration, took in a baseball game between the Cuban Giants and an All-Washington club. He was one of nearly 900 people in attendance.

According to an article in the Washington Post on the game, “The majority of those present were colored, but there was a fair sprinkling of the regular ball patrons, who are anxiously awaiting the Senators’ return home. They were agreeably surprised by the really good game of ball which was put up.”

The Giants defeated the Washington team by a score of 8 to 5 in a game that took a little over two hours to complete. The Post explained away the loss by declaring that the “Locals Lacked Practice” and that the “All-Washington” team “Fought Gamely, but Couldn’t Get There.”

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Lewis H. Douglass appointed a Notary Public by President Harrison [Cleveland Gazette, July 27, 1889]

Library of Congress

The ups and downs, comings and goings, rumors and speculations of Frederick Douglass and his family were widely reported not just in the pages of The Washington Bee, and other black newspapers in the city (as well as every “mainstream” city daily and weekly), but also black press outlets throughout the country from Indianapolis to Huntsville, Alabama to New York City. Invaluable information not widely known about Douglass and his family is captured in print, as well as a perspective that can be unflinchingly laudatory one week and harshly critical the next.

“Lewis H. Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, has been appointed a Notary Public for the District of Columbia by President Harrison. There are two of three more of the Douglass family to be provided for and then other colored men will stand a chance. Perhaps Fred has some white relatives – on his wife’s side – who wish office.”

The news item directly below…

“There were fifty-six new police appointed in Washington, D.C., July 1, and not withstanding many colored men applied all were rejected. The colored people are about one-third the population of the District and pay taxes on $10,000,000 worth of real estate. The same thing was done recently in both Detroit and Cleveland.”

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