Frederick Douglass – A true American hero…

August 15, 2022 by · 2 Comments 

I’m currently reading “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”, and I must say, although I have always appreciated his accomplishments and admired him for his perseverance and tenacity as he moved from slavery to freedom, and then on to being a passionate herald for the freedom and equal right of others, over the past few weeks my eyes have been opened to his astounding skills as both a writer and orator. The fact that his cause resonates deep within me makes this revelation even more satisfying.

The quote shown above is from the introduction penned by George L. Ruffin. I couldn’t help but smile upon reading his statement about the value of historic newspapers as primary source material. While I personally prefer the label “contextual-source material”, he certainly seems to grasp the point – and the fact that Douglass himself was a long-time publisher of what we now refer to as rare & early newspapers only adds to the statement’s relevance.

Considering much was also written about (and by) Frederick Douglass in the newspapers of his day, please forgive me if I indulge readers of this blog with related posts over the next few months. At my age, placing the quest to explore more about his life on the backburner would likely be tantamount to tossing it into the recycling bin. Therefore, there is no time like the present. Thanks in advance for your understanding. If anyone would like to contribute a post regarding his life and can tether it to a newspaper (or newspapers) from the past, please be in touch (guy@rarenewspapers.com).

Mike Drop from 1886… Frederick Douglass Leaves Us All Stunned…

July 25, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

The phrase “mike drop” is a trendy phrase in 2022, however, none could hold a candle to Frederick Douglass‘ address to Congress in 1886/1887. The Atlantic Monthly from December 1886 & January 1887 carried his plea, and while I would like to have something to add to his words, I believe I’ll let a portion of his address speak for itself:

“The Principle of slavery, which [The Founding Fathers] tolerated under the erroneous impression that [slavery] would soon die out, became at last the dominant principle and power at the South. It early mastered the Constitution, became superior to the Union, and enthroned itself above the law. Freedom of speech and of the press it slowly but successfully banished from the South, dictated its own code of honor and manners to the nation, brandished the bludgeon and the bowie knife over Congressional debate, sapped the foundations of loyalty, dried up the springs of patriotism, blotted out the testimonies of the fathers against oppression, padlocked the pulpit, expelled liberty from its literature, invented nonsensical theories about master-races and slave-races of men, and in due season, produced a Rebellion fierce, foul, and bloody. This evil principle again seeks admission into our body politic. It comes now in shape of a denial of political rights to four million loyal colored people. The South does not now ask for slavery. It only asks for a large degraded caste, which shall have no political rights. This ends the case. Statesmen, beware what you do. The destiny of unborn and unnumbered generations is in your hands. Will you repeat the mistake of your fathers, who sinned ignorantly?”

Some may want to join me in picking our jaws up off of the floor as we stand in awe of a man who, as a former slave, (self) educated himself to such heights, ironically, using The Columbian Orator which was also used as a textbook by other familiar names: Ralph Waldo Emerson (philosopher/poet), Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), and Horace Greely (editor/publisher of the New York Tribune) to name a few.

The Fight Against Slavery… 1822…

June 13, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

If asked to name famous men and women who fought to free slaves and/or to bring an end to this horrible era in American history, most short-lists would likely include Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown, but many others were also sacrificially and emphatically committed to the cause who are relatively (if not completely) unknown. Such is the case of Telemaque, a free former slave who was executed for conspiracy. If you are from Charleston, SC, you likely know his name long with a handful of his accomplishments; however, the remainder of us would do well to learn more about him:  Telemaque (Denmark Vessey)

A woodcut masthead is worth a thousand words… Slavery…

May 16, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

A few weeks back my favorite person posted: Take a Closer Look … The Delicate Details of Woodcut Prints… 

Such prints are truly amazing. However, as is the case with (most?) works of art, to some degree they tell a story. One such story is that of “Slavery – The Cry for Emancipation”, as told through the masthead of The Liberator. While we have many historic newspapers containing articles chronicling the path from the horrors of slavery, through emancipation, then on to suffrage and beyond, few rival what is communicated through this most-amazing, intricate, illustration which was present at the top of nearly every issue. At a distance its beauty speaks to the eyes, but a close-up view shouts to the heart: ENOUGH!

See for yourself:

William Cowper speaks out against slavery (1791)… They put it in print…

February 25, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Thank goodness “cancel culture” did not exist (at least in [Wilbur]force) back in 18th century.

Flashback to the late 17oo’s… Although slavery had been part and parcel of many cultures for thousands of years, and was certainly woven throughout all aspects of life and commerce in Great Britain, some were staunchly against the practice and had the courage to fight for those whose skin color did not match their own. One such person who was particularly outspoken in this regard was the popular and well-respected poet/hymnologist William Cowper. Although taking such a stand was both an affront and a danger to the political and social mores of the day, he (and others with similar convictions) were permitted to speak, and in the long-run, the world’s view was eventually transformed. How do we know? They (actually) put it in print!

The following excerpt from one of his anti-slavery poems was printed in the Columbian Centinel dated June 16, 1791:

Snapshot 1807… William Cowper and the Slave Trade…

October 22, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently discovered a Gazette Of The United States, For The Country (Philadelphia), dated May 25, 1807 which had a timely reprinting of William Cowper’s poem regarding the abolition of the Slave Trade – just a few weeks after the enactment of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 (United Kingdom). It would still be another quarter-century before slavery within the Britain Empire would be abolished.

They Put It In Print… Black Americana……

February 25, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Few nations can boast of a peaceful trek from being a slave state (at least in part) to the enslaved people-group holding the highest position in the very land that had once enslaved their ancestors. Whereas there is still much work to be done, the United States’ governmental structure allows, and even promotes such progress. Since much of these historic events were put in print, the link below is able to provide a chronology of many of the highlights of this amazing, albeit bumpy road. Since the link only provides a snapshot of each issue’s content, in order to view the related coverage you may need to click on the item number of several in order to view the item’s full description.

BLACK AMERICANA (and more)

Note: While perusing the issues shown in the link above, one might wonder why a link to a chronology of “Black Americana” issues includes those from outside the United States. Answer? Life rarely happens in a vacuum – and this is equally true with the trek shown above. Both the related tragedies, atrocities,  and eventual progress which transpired outside the U.S. were often foundational in the thinking of those within. As a result, they have been included.

Snapshot 1827… Fourth of July – New York abolishes slavery…

July 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from the July 9, 1827 issue of The Connecticut Courant, Hartford

 

Interesting items on the Underground Railroad…

February 11, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The “Supplement to the New-York Daily Tribune“, May 11, 1849, has the following at the top of the front page. Note the incredibly strong pro-slavery bias in the first paragraph: