Thursday, June 14, 2018

Wanchese has embarked on a trading mission up the Chowan River to Choanoac with his superiors Andacon and Osacan and his cousin Nootau.  Alsoomse had wanted to be included.
Alsoomse and Wanchese" Scenes
Chapter 6, Pages 50-51
... Looking over his right shoulder, Wanchese could no longer see the northern tip of Roanoke Island, where the previous afternoon Alsoomse had demanded that she accompany him, knowing her words were futile, believing a combative dialogue was essential. It was one aspect of her being he both resented and respected. If he ever did decide to court a young woman, she would have to be just about as strong-minded.
      “You and your important friends need to grind corn kernels, tend the fire and pot, dress deer hide, hunt for clams, make pottery, plant seeds, pull weeds, harvest crops, gather nuts and berries, do everything we do every day! Instead, you are permitted to travel, meet new people, do exciting things!” Why was it that she targeted him with her complaints?! It had been Ahone, not he, who had created the People, the sun, the moon, the rivers, the swamps, the great waters, the trees, animals, fish, and birds!
      “The Great Creator determined our duties!” he had answered. “You have yours. I know mine. It is the way of things.” Her eyes had been large, adamant. “To change would be to destroy order, balance. Without order, without discipline, we do not survive. Our father and mother made that clear to us!” Standing close to him, her chin angled up at him, she had seemed more intent on forcing him to step backward than altering his viewpoint.
“Why must you challenge everything you decide is wrong?! Who are you to decide what is right?! Our leaders and the kwiocosuks and the gods decide. We accept! Those who cannot must live alone. Is that what you want?!” He had not diverted his eyes. He had not given ground! He had said nothing more!
She, not he, had stepped back. She had looked briefly across the water, had engaged him afterward as resolutely as before.
“I know responsibility! You know that! I know the importance of order! I would do nothing to hurt our people!” Face flushed, she had for five or six heartbeats stared, her frown distinct. “I am not content! My mind wants to know what you know, not by you telling me what you decide to tell me but by my living it. Myself! Can you understand that? I should be allowed! No, not allowed! I should be free to do!”
She was wrong. Going to Choanoac to trade with the great Menatonon is what men did! Important men! That familiar burn of temper was ascending the back of his neck! He was a hunter, a weir builder, a warrior, not a weaver of mats! Men and women were different! Meant to be! They had separate responsibilities, for obvious reasons. All responsibilities had to be met. No village member had the right to choose whatever task he or she wanted! It was hard enough for villagers, working together, to accomplish what survival demanded!
“I want to go someplace with you to learn things I do not know! I will not give up until I do!” Turning her head, she had looked again at the sun-dappled water. “When you get back,” she had said, enunciating each word, “you will tell me everything! About Menatonon, the women there, what Nootau said and did, what their village is like, how they are different from us, everything!”
“I will.” How the corners of his mouth had wanted to celebrate!


Monday, June 11, 2018

"Alsoomse and Wanchese" Scenes
Chapter 2, Pages 17-18
On the back of my paperback historical novel Alsoomse and Wanchese, recently published, a browser of books can read the following:
“Mother, I want to question things. Know the why of things. Decide things. Why must weroances, priests, and a husband – kind or not -- decide who I must be?”
            “We gave you your name for a reason.”
            “That is not an answer.”
            “Be respectful, child, dutiful. The gods have taught us our roles. We must obey them, please them. We must please also the wise ones who speak to them. Life is perilous, Alsoomse. Kiwasa makes it so. Weigh what you think before you act. Accept.”
He marveled at the potency of his temper. He was surprised that his blow to Askook’s head had not been followed by a fist to the throat and a crushing knee to the side of the skull.
He savored the idea.
Something inside him had interfered.
Had Askook been a Pomouik, he would not have hesitated. He was a warrior. Any man who chose to make himself an enemy needed to beware.
Askook had laid bare his deficiency.
Roanoke Island. 1583. Rejecting tribal conformity, deciding what is true, what is just, desiring independence, accomplishment, fulfillment, Algonquian 17-year-old sister Alsoomse and 19-year-old brother Wanchese suffer repercussions.  Alsoomse pushes continuously against tribal convention, the imposed role of women, the dictatorial authority of men, rulers and priests.  Wanchese’s short-temper and quest to meet his deceased father’s expectations place him three times in mortal combat. 
I have always been interested in the English/Algonquian/Roanoke story, how the English came to North America in 1584 to find a location to establish a settlement, how a year later English soldiers alienated entirely the local population, how in 1587 over 100 English common folk (not soldiers) including several women and children were tricked into settling on Roanoke Island and how their governor John White had to return to London to try to acquire ships and supplies to transport them to a different location, and, how, finally, in 1590 White returned to find that his people had vanished.
The more deeply I researched the story, the more curious I became about the Algonquian natives.  Who were they?  What was their culture?  What were their aspirations?  Their conflicts? 
Other writers of historical fiction that have written about some aspect of the Roanoke story focus on the English.  I decided to write an Algonquian story.  Think for a moment about all the Native American people that inhabited America before the White Man crossed the ocean and began his conquest.  As human as any homo sapiens -- advanced or primitive -- these people had no alphabet to form written words to record their life experiences.  I contend that any human being – famous or anonymous – who suffers the vicissitudes of life has an instructive story to tell. Few get told. That is one important reason why authors of historical and contemporary fiction write.
Alsoomse and Wanchese begins in late August 1583 and concludes a year later after English explorers -- secondary characters -- have come to Roanoke and left.  Their presence is but a complication to the Algonquians’ ongoing collective and individual inter- and intra-tribal conflicts.
I do not expect any prospective reader of my fiction to purchase either of my novels without first sampling my writing.  Below is the first of seven Alsoomse and Wanchese scenes that I will be posting.
Chapter 2, Pages 17-18
Humphrey Gilbert and his crew sensed how close to Sable Island’s rocks the Squirrel, riding the turbulent waves, had approached. If he dared to put out to sea, how many days or weeks would it be before he would be able to return? On this island roamed wild pigs and cattle, set ashore decades ago by Portuguese explorers. Here existed the necessary food supply for his planned settlement! The alternative was to return to the Queen disgraced! The Newfoundland fishermen had warned him about Sable Island, about how too many ships had been destroyed on its rocks. “Approach it in the best of conditions. And lead with your smallest ship.” Well, in both instances he had done the opposite.
He had spurned the advice of the Delight’s master, Richard Clarke.
“If you must, utilize a south-west-south course.”
Clarke had contradicted Gilbert’s intended west-north-west direction. “That will take you to disaster, Admiral. The wind is at south and night is at hand. Unknown sands lay a great way off the land.” Gilbert had had to threaten to bring down Elizabeth’s wrath upon Clarke to force the master to comply.
Slanting rain pelted him. He turned his face away from its force. Minutes passed. Sailors were staring at him, turning their faces when he attempted to make eye contact. He would wait a bit longer!
If the fog lifted, he could then be certain. If not, …
The waiting was interminable! He stared, at drifting, amorphous shapes.
A ferocious blast of wind caused him to slip and then fall on the rain-drenched deck. He careened down the deck’s slope, his right leg striking stanchions. Adjusting to the roll of the ship, gripping a foremast spar, painfully, he stood. The boards beneath his feet trembled. Fear constricted his throat.
“Admiral! Here!”
Gilbert hesitated, then followed the beckoning sailor to a cluster of four seamen just aft of broadside. There! The fog had opened. Gilbert's lead ship, the Delight, his largest, was coming apart on dark rocks. And in the water . . . the ship's crew: heads, flailing arms. Miraculously, a boat in the water, just beyond, in one eye-blink, capsized. Churning bodies, disappearing. Gone!
For an hour Gilbert’s two ships maintained their positions. Then he ordered their departure. All one hundred of the Delight’s crew had perished. Numbed with guilt, he retired to his cabin.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Frederick Douglass's Children
Annie Douglass
Annie Douglass – Frederick and Anna Douglass’s fifth child – was born March 22, 1849, in Rochester, New York.  We know little about her childhood other than the following.
Anna and her family enjoyed playing "pitching quoits" in Highland Park.  Quoits was a game in which rings of rope or flattened metal are thrown at an upright peg. The object was to encircle the peg or come as close to it as possible.
From what little I have been able to read, Annie, described as “a bright and impish child” (O’Keefe 1), seems to have been the sort of little girl that captures easily strangers’ hearts.  “From 1857 to 1859, Annie attended School 13, which her father’s secretary called the German public school because of the many German immigrants in southeast Rochester.  Annie wrote, the “German children like me very much but I have gone a head [sic] of them and they have been there much longer than me too” (O’Keefe 1).
John Brown, the fierce white abolitionist who in November 1859 would lead an armed attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and would be hung for it, loved the child.  And, she loved him.  During Brown’s three-week stay at the Douglass home in 1858, she would often sit on his knee while he and her father conversed.
Brown had come to Douglass to enlist his help in persuading blacks to join his cause. (Brown had similarly solicited Harriet Tubman’s help and been rejected)  Douglass had favored the cause but not Brown’s plan, which he considered suicidal.  “The United States Armory was a huge complex of buildings that manufactured small arms for the U.S. Army (1801–1861), with an Arsenal (storehouse) that was thought to contain 100,000 muskets and rifles at the time” (Muller 1).  “The plan was ‘an attack on the federal government’ that ‘would array the whole country against us ... You will never get out alive,’ he [Douglass] warned” (John 1). 
Brown's confiscated papers mentioned the name of Douglass, and a request for his arrest was issued. This led Douglass to take an immediate unplanned voyage to Europe, where he met up with Ottilie Assing, and, on the lecture circuit he acclaimed, from afar, the martyrdom of John Brown (Timeline 4).
Annie became ill in December, soon after her father’s departure.  She would die March 13, 1860, less than two weeks’ short of her eleventh birthday.  “Before her death, she had lost the power to speak or hear” (O’Keefe 2). 
An obituary notice, printed perhaps by the local Rochester newspaper, declared the following:
Died at Rochester on Tuesday, March 13, Annie, the youngest daughter of Frederick and Anna Douglass, aged 10 years, 11 months, and 21 days, after an illness of nearly three months.
Nothing just at this time could have pained us more than this sad bereavement of this esteemed friend, and earnest, and able co-laborer.  Words cannot express how deeply we condole with him and his stricken family.  Annie, the youngest of the circle, a child of great promise was, we are told, the idol of the mother, the pride of the father, and the love of the brothers and sisters.  Thoughtful beyond her years, she seems to have taken into her mind something of the agitation of the times attendant upon the Harper’s Ferry emeute, and the supposed connection of her father therewith, and the consequent harm that would come to him because of it.  Her mind, we are told, haunted with this idea, entered in a cloud of grief, and she drooped, and faded, and died.  It is perhaps mete that this child of the friends of the martyrs of Harper’s Ferry, should thus die at this time as the crowning sacrifice to the Moloch of American slavery.  When that little grave is covered, and the sod grown, then let the little white stone be raised over it with this ephitaph [sic] inscribed thereon: “Here lies the remains of one of the first young spring flowers of liberty, nipped by the untimely frost of American wrong and injustice” (Annie 1).
Denied a burial place at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Annie was buried in Samuel Porter’s family burial plot.  She was reburied at Mt. Hope after her father brought pressure upon the cemetery officials.
Frederick Douglass had been in Glasgow, Scotland, when he received the news of his daughter’s death. 
Anna, along with her children, was desolate; Annie, a charming scamp, happier about the house than her tense older sister, Rosetta, was gone.  Annie, her namesake, the last child of her troubled marriage, was dead.  And she was unable to articulate her despair.
Rosetta read to her mother a letter of condolence from Harriet and then sat down to reply.  “My darling sister is now an angel,” she wrote and added, “I have just asked mother what I should say for her.  She sends her love to you and thanks you as heartily as myself for your sympathizing letter, and she as she is unable to write will allow my letter to be in answer for both.  … She is not very well now being quite feeble though about the house.”  And then Anna called out that Harriet should – “if you desire,” as Rosetta politely put it—write to her brother and tell him to come home.  [The biographer William S. McFeely assumed that the “Harriet Bailey” that had lived with the Douglasses in Lynn, Massachusetts, was Frederick’s sister.  Subsequent research has revealed that the woman was “actually the fugitive slave named Ruth Cox, living under that assumed name” (Fought footnote 390]
Word of Annie’s death reached her father just after he had received an affectionate, cheerful letter from his son Charles, and as he was indulging himself in the satisfying business of visiting congenial Scottish friends.  Annie herself had written in December, telling proudly of her good work at school.  Douglass’ anguish was intense, not the less so, no doubt, for being mixed with remorse and anger that he had not been on hand when the illness struck—he, the self-made man who could accomplish everything, could surely have prevented this tragedy.  But he had not been there.  “We heard from dear father last week,” Rosetta told Harriet, “and his grief was great.  I trust the next letter [neither that one nor the first one survives] will evince more composure of mind.”  Rosetta, for her part, claimed to take some comfort in the thought that Annie “has gone to Him whose love is the same for the black as the white” (McFeely 207).
Two New Orleans’ based “2005 Students of the Center,” Dakota Edmonds and Marlon Cross, wrote this imaginary letter composed by Frederick Douglass addressed to Annie while he was crossing the Atlantic headed homeward
Dearest Annie, My Youngest Child:
I can remember the first time you grasped my index finger. Fresh from the womb, your small voice cried loud as I held you in my arms. Annie, you were as beautiful as roses & daisies in a spring garden. Your voice spoke to me quietly in a language that I didn't understand. Inside my heart I knew you wouldn't have to slave for freedom as much as I did. My youngest love, my youngest life, you remind me of the ocean.
As I write you this letter, the waves rock this ship like your cradle rocked you when I was too busy with your four older siblings. I sit on deck and watch the waves. I think of your ways, soft and calm, at times, rough and fast, but always a wonderful sight to see. Just last month when you were drawing a picture of your baby doll, I disturbed you, asking you to pick up your shoes. The tone of your voice was sweet even when you didn't want to be bothered. Why, I would have done anything for you. I learned that from my own mother. She went through a 24-mile walk after work just to come see her son, your father. She worked in the fields on another plantation, while the other children and I stayed 12 miles away. She cared for me just as much as I care for you. I think of her long journey as I cross the Atlantic Ocean once again, placing my life in danger, weeping that your earthly life has ended.
How my heart wishes to walk into my residence to see the face of my Annie, those eyes like your mother's that sparkle in the moonlight, those pretty white teeth that shine in the dark, and that graceful smile that to which no other can ever compare. I know that inside my heart everything happens for a reason. I am so sorry that I could not have been in your presence to adore you with my love, to kiss your cheek, as your soul passed to the next life.
You must understand why I was away the day you died, only eight years old. You won't know the name John Brown or the meaning of the words abolition and justice. But these are some of the reasons I was away. John Brown's skin was white but his soul was pure. His heart was set on one goal—abolishing slavery. He too is now dead. Our country wants me to join him. I knew of his plot to attack Harper's Ferry, take over the weapons there, and wage war against slaveholders. I told no one about this plot. For that this country, which declares itself a defender of the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, accuses me of treason. I do not regret my silence about Brown's plot. I only regret its failure, his death, and most of all my absence as you took your last breath.
So now I journey again. The water, the source of life, gives me little comfort. I return to your four siblings and dear mother. I return to a country stuck in greed and evil. I also return with the hope of freedom for all. I pledge my life to remain in this country, to die fighting for freedom for all people rather than to escape to another country. Your untimely departure tells me where I must remain. It reinforces my determination, my conviction that I will never be free until all my people are free. Thank you for this gift you give me on your leaving. Forgive my absence at your departure.
All Love Always,
Your Father, Frederick A. Douglass (Edmonds and Cross 1)
Works Cited:
“Annie Douglass.”  Find a Grave.  Web. <>.
Edmonds, Dakota and Cross, Marlon. “Frederick Douglass Writes a Farewell Letter to His Daughter.”  New Orleans Unmasked. 2005 Students of the Center.  Web.  <>.
“John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry.” Wikipedea.  Web.  <'s_raid_on_Harpers_Ferry>.
Muller, John. “Death knocked on the door of the Frederick Douglass family too often, Douglass outlives his wife, two children, and numerous grand-children.”  Frederick … Anacostia.  Web.  <>.
O’Keefe, Rosie.  Frederick & Anna Douglass in Rochester, New York: Their Home Was Open to All.  Charleston, South Carolina, The History Press, 2013.  Google.  Web.  <>.
“Timeline of Frederick Douglass and Family.”  African American History of Western New York.  Web.  <>.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Frederick Douglass's Children:
Charles Remond Douglass
In 1843 [Charles] Remond and the abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass toured and lectured against slavery throughout New York State, accompanied by the Hutchinsons, a family of abolitionist singers. On this tour, part of the famous One Hundred Conventions tour, British and American audiences began to take note of Douglass. That same year, Remond and Douglass quarreled openly with John A. Collins, their white Garrisonian colleague, and both were reprimanded. Douglass's admiration for Remond was so profound that in 1844 he named his third son Charles Remond Douglass (Greenidge-Copprue 1).
Charles was born October 21, 1844, in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Four years later his family moved to Rochester, New York, and he was educated in the public school system.  He helped deliver his father’s abolitionist newspaper, North Star.  In 1859, he served John Brown as a mail messenger when Brown lived for three weeks at the Douglass family home.
Douglass became the first African-American man to enlist for military service in New York during the American Civil War when he volunteered for the 54th  Massachusetts Infantry Regiment .[The official records listed him as 19-years-old; five feet, eight inches tall; with black complexion, black ryes, and black hair.]  His oldest brother Lewis Henry Douglass (1840–1908), also served in the 54th, ultimately becoming a sergeant major in that regiment. Due to illness [lung problems] in November of 1863, Charles was not able to deploy with the troops, remaining at the training camp in Readville, Massachusetts. Illness prevented Charles from participating with his brother Lewis in the assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island, near Charleston Harbor.  Charles went on to join another black military regiment, the 5th Massachusetts Calvary, in which he rose to the rank of first sergeant. The following year of 1864 [September 15], Charles was discharged from service [at the request of his father] due to poor health (Who 1).
Charles planned to go to Tennessee to invest in cotton lands.  Instead, he tended the family farm and lived in his parents’ house [in Rochester] for two years, finding it difficult to secure an income-producing job.  He married Mary Elizabeth Murphy, called Libbie, in 1866.  Although this marriage was troubled by Libbie’s accusations of infidelity and Charles’s counter-accusations of jealousy, the couple had six children: Charles Frederick, Joseph Henry, Annie Elizabeth, Julia Ada, Mary Louise, and Edward (Emerson 1)
Moving to Washington, D.C., Charles served as one of the first black clerks in the Freedmen’s Bureau from 1867 to 1869 and in the Treasury Department from 1869 to 1875.  When his father purchased the New National Era in 1870, Charles became one of the journal’s correspondents, while his older brothers … were in charge of editorials and business management… (Emerson 1).  For several years Charles lived in the Hillsdale/Barry Farm area of Anacostia. 
With more than $50,000 set aside by General Oliver Otis Howard, head of the Freedmen’s Bureau, in a trust to develop “normal collegiate institutions or universities” these funds were used to purchase 375 acres from the descendents of James D. Barry in 1867. Sitting just beneath the Government Hospital for the Insane, which saw its first patient in 1855, the sale of lots would help relieve “the immediate necessities of a class of poor colored people in the District of Columbia.” Within two years, more than 260 families had made Barry Farm their home, the Douglass boys included. 
Writing in his autobiography General Howard recalled, “Some of those who bought one acre or two-acre lots were fairly well off. I found it better to have a few among the purchasers who were reasonably educated, and of well-known good character and repute, to lead in the school and church work, and so I encouraged such to settle alongside the more destitute.”
Charles and Lewis would move across town while Frederick, Jr. would spend the rest of his life on nearby Nichols Avenue, today Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. In the early years of the 1870s, when in Washington to run The New National Era and serve on the Legislative Council, records indicate Frederick was living in the Anacostia area with one or all of his sons (Muller 1, 2).
As early as the mid-1800s, black baseball in Washington, DC, according to a local newspaper, was a mania of sorts.  Throughout the city, a sight of balls and bats wielded by black kids was not unusual.  Some teenagers and young men formed teams and played wherever they could scratch out a ball field.  Gradually, such teams as the Mutuals and the Alerts began playing some serious games.  Charles Remond Douglass … played on both those teams (Bruns 1).
By September 1869 Charles Douglass was serving as President of the city’s Mutual Base Ball Club, negotiating with opposing teams what field to play on, the rules which would govern the still-evolving game, and how to share the gate proceeds (Muller 1).
In the fall of 1870 the Washington Mutuals Base Ball Club, of which Charles Douglass was a member, toured “through the western part of the state of New York” and promptly defeated the Arctic Club of Lockport, the Rapids Club of Niagara Falls, the Mutuals of Buffalo, and a “picked nine” at Rochester, – the city in which Charles was born and raised by his father, Frederick, and mother, Anna Murray.
This box score from The New York Clipper shows Charles (his last name misspelled) playing right field and batting eighth in a game the Mutuals won 23-19. Charles, the youngest son of Frederick Douglass, accounted for one run and made four outs (Muller 1).
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
Up in the Senate Gallery that day, taking all of this in, was Charles R. Douglass. In a February 26th [1870] letter, to his “Father,” Frederick Douglass, Charles wrote,
Yesterday was one of the greatest days to me, in the history of this country. 
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” (Muller 1).
Charles also served as secretary and treasurer for the District of Columbia schools after he was appointed a trustee to their school district in 1872.While working in the district he actively employed the first African-American teachers in the county’s schools and assured they received equal pay.  He served as a clerk to the Santo Domingo Commission in 1873 (Who 2).  “The Santo Domingo Commission investigated the possibility of annexing the Dominican Republic to the United States.  Grant saw the country as a potential home for southern blacks in the United States, to allow them to escape increasing oppression” (Emerson 3).
In 1875 Charles was a clerk in the United States Consulate in  Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, where he remained until 1879 when he returned to the United States after his  first wife’s death.   .  At this time Charles’s brothers and father divided Charles’s surviving children among their households in order to care for them.  Charles Frederick and Joseph Henry went to live with Frederick Douglass, Jr.; Julia Ada went to live with Frederick Douglass, Sr.; and Mary Louise went to live with Lewis Douglass (Emerson 2).
Joseph Henry would become famous.  Born in the Anacostia area July 3, 1869, the only child of Charles and Mary Elizabeth Douglass to live to adulthood, following “in the path of his famous grandfather and father, Joseph took up the violin at a young age, receiving classical training at the New England Conservatory for five years and later the Boston Conservatory. According to a history of black American music, Joseph would become the “first black violinist to make transcontinental tours and was the direct inspiration for several young violinists who later became professionals.” In his role as director of the department of music at Howard University and headmaster at music schools in New York, Joseph helped cultivate the budding talent of those who came behind him. According to his obituary in the Post from December 8, 1935, “His appearances at the White House were regularly scheduled during administrations of Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, after which he undertook concert work.” If only his grandfather had been there to see it” (Muller 2).
In 1880 Charles helped organize the Capital City Guards' Battalion, in which he served as a captain and major. The organization later became the First Separate Battalion, National Guard of the District of Columbia. Douglass would hold several commands in the District of Columbia National Guard, along with several high posts in the Grand Army of the Republic.
Charles “settled in Corona, New York, and entered the West India commission business.  He married Laura Haley of Canandaigua, New York, on 30 December 1880, and the couple had one son, Haley George.  Two years later he took a job in Washington, D.C., working as an examiner in the Pension Bureau” (Emerson 3).  In 1892 Charles developed a summer resort in Maryland known as Highland Beach, a twenty-six acre tract with fourteen hundred feet of beach frontage” (Emerson 3).   
When the 26 2/3-acre waterfront community was incorporated in 1922, it was the first African-American municipality in Maryland. Its 500 feet of waterfront on the Chesapeake is shared by all the enclave's residents.  Earlier, Charles Douglass, his wife Laura and son Haley George attempted to visit the summertime community of nearby Bay Ridge. They were turned away at the entrance to the resort hotel's restaurant because they were black.
Immediately afterward, while crossing a channel bridge over Black Walnut Creek, Charles Douglass encountered a black farmer, Daniel Brashears, who offered to sell Douglass some of his farmland to create a summer resort for blacks. The original offer of 40 acres could not be completed, but Douglass was able to buy 26 2/3-acres for the community he envisioned. The remaining acreage eventually became a second African-American resort community known as Venice Beach.
Leaving room for the community beach area and his own housing, Charles Douglass subdivided the remaining land into about 73 lots, most were approximately 50 feet by 100 feet. He sold them to other African-Americans. He selected a corner lot overlooking the beach for his father.
Frederick Douglass visited the resort and designed his dream house, a simple Victorian two story cottage. It was built by Charles Douglass  The elder Douglass planned a small, sheltered balcony tower on the second level, just big enough for a solitary rocking chair. He had said, "I as a free man, could look across the Bay to where I was born a slave." He was born in February 1818 on the Eastern Shore in Talbot County.
He never got to live in his summer home. He died of a heart attack Feb. 20, 1895, shortly after his 77th birthday, and just weeks before the house's completion.
A succession of Douglass family descendants lived in the house until 1986 (Winters 1).
The resentment that the Douglass children harbored for Frederick’s second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, boiled forth when Helen attempted to convince Congress to pass an act that would incorporate the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, an organization that she had, soon after her husband’s death, founded.  Helen had wanted the Cedar Hill property preserved.  The children had wanted it sold.  Part of the bill authorized Frederick Douglass’s remains, interred in Rochester, to be reburied at Cedar Hill.  Charles protested.  In an article in the New York Times on October 1, 1898, he made his feeling clear.

“This bill is a direct insult and affront to every member of our family. In order to make the whole conception of a memorial to Frederick Douglass more attractive, it is proposed that the body be brought back here. Section 9 of the bill provides that the body of my father may be removed from Mount Hope Cemetery, where it now rests, taken away from the side of my mother, who was his companion and helpmeet for well-nigh half a century. And, further, the section states that Mrs. Helen Douglass shall be interred next to his grave, and that the body of no other person, except as directed by her, shall be buried at Cedar Hill.

“My mother was colored; she was one of our people; she lived with father throughout the years of his active life.  Three years after her death my father married Helen Pitts, a white woman, merely as a companion for his old days.  Now, think of taking the body of my father from the side of the wife of his youth and his manhood.  Indeed, my father had often expressed the wish that he be buried at beautiful Mount Hope Cemetery, at Rochester, for it is there that much of his great anti-slavery work was accomplished, and it is there that we, his children, were reared.

“In reality, I do not believe that the body can be moved. The plot in which it rests is our property. Yet, with the passage of a Congressional act authorizing this, there might be trouble. As for Mrs. Helen Douglass, I would have no objection to permitting her burial in the same family lot with my father, and I do not believe that there would have been opposition on the part of others of our family, although I do not now care to say as to that.”

Helen Pitts Douglass was able to get the bill passed through Congress to establish the memorial association; Frederick Douglass’ remains were not moved to Cedar Hill (Helen 1).

“Along with his brother Lewis, Charles at times accompanied his father on his speaking engagements.  He also served for many years as president of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association, a cultural and literary institution for blacks in Washington.  Sponsoring weekly lectures during the winter season, the association engaged local black speakers, including Frederick Douglass.  Charles himself also delivered several addresses to the association” (Emerson 4). 
Late in life Charles became a member of the District of Columbia’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  He served as the model for the monument statue to his father, which stands in Rochester, N.Y.
Charles Douglass died in Washington, D.C., on November 23, 1920, (age 76) after a short illness attributed to Bright's disease. He was buried at Columbian Harmony Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on November 26. He was survived by his second wife, Laura, and his two sons, Joseph Douglass and Haley George, who would become the mayor of Highland Beach.
Works cited:
Emerson, Mark G. “Douglass, Charles Remond.”  Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass. Oxford University Press. Web. < <>.
Greenidge-Copprue, Delano.  Charles Lenox Remond.”  Underground Railroad: Oxford African American Studies Center.  Oxford University Press.  Web.  <!/people/charles-lenox-remond>.
“Helen Pitts Douglass.”  Thought.Co.  Web.  <>.
Muller, John. “Charles Douglass Calls Wearin-In … Pass In.” May 22, 2012.  <>.
Muller, John. “Charles Douglass in 1870 Washington Mutuals Base Ball Club Box Score.” Frederick … Anacostia. Web. <>.
Muller, John. “Frederick Douglass & His Sons Lived in Greater Anacostia Area in the Early 1870s; before Frederick Douglass Purchased Cedar Hill in the Fall of 1877.”
Muller, John. “Frederick Douglass; Honorary Member of the Mutual Base Ball Club (September 1870).” Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia. Web.  <>.
Muller, John. “Joseph Douglass, Grandson of Frederick Douglass, the World’s First Famous Black American Violinist.” August 3, 2012. Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia. Web. <>.
Muller, John. “Kenneth Bailey Morris, Grandson of Dr. Frederick Douglass, Recalls Childhood Memories of Highland Beach.” April 5, 2018. Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia. Web <>.
“Who Was Charles Remond Douglass?”Build Nation. February 8, 2017. Web. <>.
Winters, Wendi.  “Home of the Week: Frederick Douglass Designed Dream Summer Residence in Highland Beach.”  Capital Gazette.  February 26, 2016.  Web.  <>.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Frederick Douglass's Children
Frederick Douglass, Jr.
Frederick Douglass Jr. was Frederick and Anna Douglass’s third child and second son.  He was born March 3, 1842, in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  He and his family moved from Lynn, Massachusetts, to Rochester, New York, in 1847 when he was five.  He was educated in racially mixed public schools that his father had forced to integrate.  During their childhood years, Frederick and his brothers assisted his parents in piloting runaway slaves into Canada via the Underground Railroad through Rochester.  Initially, he and his brothers were taught type-setting at his father’s newspaper, North Star, to keep them off the streets and constructively focused.
In 1861, Frederick Douglas Sr. called for the use of Black troops to fight the Confederacy through the establishment of Negro regiments in the Union Army.  After Robert E. Lee’s defeat at Antietam in 1863 President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation.  Such service in the army was now possible. 
Although many people would erroneously trace the social activism of the Douglass children to their father, such reconstructions fail to consider that not only was the father patriarch away for extended periods of time working against the pernicious system of slavery and therefore limited in his interaction with his offspring, but also Anna Murray Douglass was as much an activist as her much more renowned husband.
Frederick Jr. was impacted by the social activism he saw occurring all around him.  As a child Douglass witnessed his mother’s prominent role in the Massachusetts abolitionist movement with figures such as Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison.  It would be this tradition that most propelled the Douglass male children on to serve on the Union army side during the Civil War.  Frederick Douglass, Sr. had served as one of the initial recruiters for the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and Douglass Jr., mirrored his father most when he followed his example and served as a recruiter for the Union Army (Jones 1), initially in Massachusetts and then in Mississippi.
Following the war, Frederick attempted to enter the typographical workers’ union.  When that plan failed, he went with his brother Lewis in 1866 to Colorado, where Henry R. Wagoner, a long-time family friend, taught him the trade of typography.  While he was in Colorado, Frederick worked with his brother Lewis in the printing office of the Red, White, and Blue Mining Company (Emerson 1).
Frederick returned to Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1868 and settled in the Anacostia area of the capitol, east of the Anacostia River in “Potomac City” (today known as the Hillsdale/Barry Farm neighborhood) and opened a small grocery store.  On May 21, 1869, Frederick applied for work as a clerk in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds.  Here is his letter of application.
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 did not receive the appointment.
He was now 27.  Although his health was always tenuous, he did play baseball.  He had played for a mixed race team in Rochester in 1859.  By September 1869, his brother Charles “was serving as President of the city’s Mutual Base Ball Club, negotiating with opposing teams what field to play on, the rules which would govern the still-evolving game, and how to share the gate proceeds” (Muller 1).  When Frederick moved to Washington in 1869, he helped to form the baseball club, the Alerts.  A newspaper account of one of their games appears below.
The announcement that the Pythian, of Philadelphia, would play the Alert, of Washington, D. C. (both colored organizations) on the 15th inst., attracted quite a concourse of spectators on the grounds of the Athletic. The game progressed finely until the beginning of the fifth innings, when a heavy shower of rain set in, compelling the umpire, Mr. E. H. Hayhurst, of the Athletic, to call the game. The score stood at the end of the fourth innings: Alert 21, Pythian 16. Mr. Frederick Douglass was present and viewed the game from the reporters’ stand. His son is a member of the Alert (Thorn 1).
On August 4, 1869, Frederick married Virginia L Molyneaux Hewlett, sister to the Washington attorney and, later, judge, Emanuel D. Molyneaux Hewlett, and daughter of
Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett, the professor of gymnastics at Harvard University.   
Emanuel Molyneaux Hewlett was the first black graduate of the Boston University School of law; he had a thriving legal practice in DC.  Later in his career Hewlett was a justice of the peace and a judge in Municipal Court in DC and worked on ten cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
… the date was December 5, 1887.  On that day Hewlett and his similarly distinguished African American guest were told they couldn't eat at Harvey's [an oyster restaurant]. They were asked to leave.  Hewlett filed a complaint, claiming that Harvey’s had violated the Equal Services Acts of 1872 and 1873, which prohibited racial discrimination in D.C. restaurants.  Harvey’s was fined $100.  Harvey’s appealed, on the grounds that Hewlett was not well behaved.  The defense attorney produced a story from the Washington Evening Star newspaper recounting a trip Hewlett had taken two months earlier to French's, a lunch room in the Center Market...Hewlett had ordered three eggs, a cup of coffee and some biscuits, for which he was charged three times what the meal should have cost.  He asked for the price list...and was told there was none."  When he tried to leave, Hewlett found the doors locked. The black attorney had to climb out a window, then walk along a balcony before entering another room that had access to an elevator.  This proved, Mr. Harvey testified, that Hewlett was a known check skipper. Knowing that, what restaurant would serve him?  A jury (from which the lone black member had been stricken) deadlocked and the case was ultimately dropped by the prosecution (Harvey’s 1).
Virginia had another brother who became famous.  Paul Molyneaux Hewlett “eventually dropped the Hewlett part of his name and became an actor in Europe. He was probably … the second black actor to portray Othello on the American stage.  Douglass, the senior, loved Shakespeare and quoted Shakespeare about as much as he quoted the Bible. I wonder if he ever saw Paul Molineaux, his son’s brother-in-law, play Othello on stage?” (Fought 1).
Frederick and Virginia had seven children.
When his father purchased the New National Era in 1870, Frederick became the newspaper’s business manager.  His older brother Lewis was in charge of editorials, and his younger brother Charles worked as a correspondent.
In 1873 Frederick Jr. campaigned unsuccessfully to be elected as a delegate to the Legislative Assembly of the District of Columbia.
When Frederick Douglass Sr. was appointed United States Marshal of the District of Columbia in 1877, Frederick Jr. was made a bailiff.  That same year Frederick Jr. was the first African American to sign a petition that urged the House of Representatives and the Senate to change the Constitution to grant women the right to vote.  The 33 signatures on the petition demonstrated support the District of Columbia African-American community’s support for women’s suffrage.  Notice the first four signatures.
In Congress Assembled:
The undersigned, Citizens of the United States, Residents of the State of Dist. of Col., County of _________, Town of Uniontown, earnestly pray your Honorable Body to adopt measures for so amending the Constitution as to prohibit the several States from Disfranchising United States Citizens on account of Sex.
Colored MEN:
       Colored WOMEN:
Fred'k. Douglass Jr.    
      Mrs. FredK. Douglass Jr.    
Nathan Sprague                 
       Mrs. Nathan Sprague
       (Petition 1)
“Mrs. Nathan Sprague” was Frederick’s sister, Rosetta.
After the wife of his brother Charles died in 1879, Frederick and his wife Virginia helped raise two of Charles’s sons, ten-year-old Charles Frederick and eight-year-old Joseph Henry. 
Frederick Jr. secured a clerkship in the office of the recorder of deeds in 1881 when his father was appointed Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia.  
On January 19, 1889 Frederick Sr. lauded the National Leader – an African American Washington, D.C., weekly newspaper begun in January 1888 -- as “the most staunch supporter of the Republican Party now published in this country” (Muller 1).  Frederick Jr., the Associate Editor of the newspaper, made this observation in the March 30, 1889, issue.
In parts of the District of Columbia inhabited by colored citizens, improvements are rarely made.  We have a striking illustration of this in visiting Anacostia; one can readily see where colored people’s property begins by observing where the improvements leave off (Muller 1).
Frederick’s wife Virginia died December 14, 1889, during an influenza epidemic.  Frederick lost the ability to cope.  His sister Rosetta became concerned about him.  Frederick wrote his father’s second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, that Virginia was my all.”  Frederick’s son Charley Paul, age 11, was placed under the guardianship of Virginia’s brother, Emanuel Molyneaux Hewlett.  Charley kept running away.  Hewlett released Charley from his guardianship and Frederick’s brother Charles and his wife Libbie thereafter raised him.
Frederick Douglass Jr. died July 26, 1892, at the age of 50.  He had never had strong health.  He had not enlisted in the army during the Civil War and he had had difficulty getting settled in life afterward.  In September 1891 he had been admitted to Freedmen's Hospital for treatment, had been operated upon, and had returned home. The direct cause of his death was consumption.
The funeral of Frederick Douglass, Jr., took place at 3 o'clock today from his late home at Hillsdale. In conformity with the wishes of his father the ceremonies were brief and simple. The handsome casket was placed in the parlor, and a throng of friends gathered around. Rev. Dr. Francis Jesse Peck, Jr., conducted the services. "The Rock of Ages" was sung by four specially chosen members of Campbell A.M.E. choir. Rev. Dr. Peck delivered an address reviewing in appropriate terms the life of the deceased. Remarks were also made by several visiting dignitaries of the church. The remains were interred at Graceland cemetery beside the grave of his wife (Find 1).
The few letters he had sent to his father had been written in beautiful penmanship and had expressed perceptive ideas.  His colleagues and printers at the National Leader remembered him fondly.  He was more effective “in writing editorials that described the struggles of southern blacks following the Civil War.  He also kept scrapbooks of his father’s activities in later years, providing researchers with valuable information” (Emerson 2).      
Sources cited:
Emerson, Mark G.  “Frederick Douglass, Jr.”   Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass.  Web. <>.
Fought, Leigh.  “Day Four: May 25, 2011: The Coolest Thing I Found Today...” Frederick Douglass: In Progress.  May 25, 2011.  Web. <>.
“Frederick Douglass, Jr.”  Find a Grave.  Web. <>.
Harvey’s.”  You Need a Schoolhouse.  February 14, 2018.  Web.  <>.
Muller, John.  “Frederick Douglass Endorses the ‘National Leader.’  Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia. November 2, 2014.  Web.  <>.
Muller, John.  “Frederick Douglass; Honorary Member of the Mutual Base Ball Club (September 1870).”  Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia. Web.
Muller, John.  Frederick Douglass, Jr. letter to Simon Wolf & Simon Wolf letter to Frederick Douglass, Jr. (National Republican, 22 May, 1869).”  Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia.  Web. < <>.
Muller, John.  “In Anacostia “improvements are rarely made” [National Leader, 30 March, 1889, p. 4].”  Death and Life in Historic Anacostia.  Web. <>.
Petition for Woman Suffrage, 1877.”  Documented Rights.  Web. <>.
Thorn, John.  The Drawing of the Color Line, 1867.”  Our Game.  Web. <>.