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
. He and his family moved from New Bedford, Massachusetts Lynn,
Massachusetts, to ,
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
Rochester, New York Canada via the Underground
Railroad through . 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. Rochester
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
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. Massachusetts
Following the war,
enter the typographical workers’ union.
When that plan failed, he went with his brother Lewis in 1866 to Frederick , where Henry R.
Wagoner, a long-time family friend, taught him the trade of typography. While he was in Colorado Colorado,
worked with his brother Lewis in the printing office of the Red, White, and
Blue Mining Company (Emerson 1). Frederick
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
, 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. Massachusetts
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FREDERICK DOUGLASS, JR. (Muller 1)
He was now 27. Although his health was always tenuous, he did play baseball. He had played for a mixed race team in
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 Rochester Frederick
in 1869, he helped to form the baseball club, the Alerts. A newspaper account of one of their games
appears below. Washington
The announcement that the Pythian, of
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
On August 4, 1869,
married Virginia L
Molyneaux Hewlett, sister to the
attorney and, later, judge, Emanuel D. Molyneaux Hewlett, and daughter of Washington
Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett, the professor of gymnastics at
Emanuel Molyneaux Hewlett was the first black graduate of the
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 Boston
Supreme Court. U.S.
… the date was December 5, 1887. On that day Hewlett and his similarly distinguished African American guest were told they couldn't eat at
[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
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
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
support the District of Columbia African-American community’s support for
women’s suffrage. Notice the first four
Fred'k. Douglass Jr.
Mrs. FredK. Douglass Jr.
Mrs. Nathan Sprague
“Mrs. Nathan Sprague” was
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
On January 19, 1889
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. Frederick
In parts of the
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). District
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
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 Campbell 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).
Emerson, Mark G. “Frederick Douglass, Jr.” Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass. Web. < https://books.google.com/books?id=cCMbE4KKlX4C&pg=PA407&lpg=PA407&dq=Charles+Remond+Douglass&source=bl&ots=xXjND2-jsG&sig=47UOjQi5XKL8Rx0Xwp0S2mwsVm0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIwv76jZPbAhUD5mMKHUFFAO84FBDoAQg1MAM#v=onepage&q=Charles%20Remond%20Douglass&f=false>.
Fought, Leigh. “Day Four: May 25, 2011: The Coolest Thing I Found Today...” Frederick Douglass: In Progress. May 25, 2011. Web. < http://leighfought.blogspot.com/2011/05/day-four-may-25-2011-coolest-thing-i.html>.
“Frederick Douglass, Jr.” Find a Grave. Web. <https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/142171560/frederick-douglass>.
Need a Schoolhouse. February 14,
2018. Web. < https://www.youneedaschoolhouse.com/blog/2018/2/14/harveys>. Harvey
Jones, James. “Douglass, Frederick, Jr. (1842-1892)). The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia. Web. <https://books.google.com/books?id=sTV8OsmDQPcC&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=Frederick+Douglass,+Jr.&source=bl&ots=ZVGcuVe9Q0&sig=FZ5kwZQFsCJLUuOs2ZLAsctVyaE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0-aKfjovbAhVK9mMKHaSlCN44FBDoAQgsMAE#v=onepage&q=Frederick%20Douglass%2C%20Jr.&f=false>.
Muller, John. “Frederick Douglass Endorses the ‘National Leader.’ Frederick Douglass in
: The Lion of Anacostia.
November 2, 2014. Web. < https://thelionofanacostia.wordpress.com/tag/frederick-douglass/>. Washington,
Muller, John. “Frederick Douglass; Honorary Member of the Mutual Base Ball Club (September 1870).” Frederick Douglass in
The Lion of Anacostia. Web. https://thelionofanacostia.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/frederick-douglass-honorary-member-of-the-mutual-base-ball-club-september-1870/. Washington, D.C.
Muller, John. “Frederick Douglass, Jr. letter to Simon Wolf & Simon Wolf letter to Frederick Douglass, Jr. (National Republican, 22 May, 1869).” Frederick Douglass in
: The Lion of Anacostia. Web. < <https://thelionofanacostia.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/frederick-douglass-jr-letter-to-simon-wolf-simon-wolf-letter-to-frederick-douglass-jr-national-republican-22-may-1869/>. Washington,
Muller, John. “In Anacostia “improvements are rarely made” [National Leader, 30 March, 1889, p. 4].” Death and Life in Historic Anacostia. Web. < https://deathandlifeofhistoricanacostia.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/in-anacostia-improvements-are-rarely-made-national-leader-30-march-1889-p-4/>.
“Petition for Woman Suffrage, 1877.” Documented Rights. Web. <https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/documented-rights/exhibit/section3/detail/suffrage-petition-transcript.html>.
Thorn, John. “The Drawing of the Color Line, 1867.” Our Game. Web. <https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/the-drawing-of-the-color-line-1867-3ebec9782bb0>.