New Podcast Episode: Frederick Douglass Rochester NY Sites, Day 2

Douglass scholarship articles and posters, Dr. David Anderson's office, Nazareth College Rochester, 2016 Amy CoolsListen to this podcast episode here or on Google Play, or subscribe on iTunes

Tenth day, Tuesday March 29th

I begin my day with an early visit to Dr. David Anderson, a Frederick Douglass scholar, visiting professor at Nazareth College, founding member of Blackstorytelling League, and an all around delightful and fascinating man! He is kind enough to grant me an interview of an hour or so, which ends up turning into a much longer conversation than that.

Among many other things too numerous to describe in full here (I’ll bring more details of our talk into the discussion of my subsequent discoveries), we talk about the Douglass family as a whole, and especially, Frederick Douglass’ wife Anna…. Read the written account here:

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, entirely supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

New Podcast Episode: Frederick Douglass Lynn Sites, Part 2 – Historical Society and Hutchinson Scrapbook

Frederick Douglass in Hutchinson Scrapbook, 2016 Amy Cools

Two portraits of Frederick Douglass from the Hutchinson Family scrapbook

Listen to this podcast episode here or subscribe on iTunes

Seventh Day, Saturday March 26th

…Lynn proves to be a Douglass treasure trove for me, especially the Lynn Museum & Historical Society. While I’m waiting to meet with a representative of the museum to look at some materials from the archives, I visit the ‘Abolitionist Lynn’ exhibit upstairs. As discussed in the first part of today’s account, Lynn had a particularly active and vocal abolitionist community. As I also discussed in the first part of today’s account, that’s what brought Douglass, laborer turned abolitionist speaker, here to Lynn… Read the original account here

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and is ad-free, entirely supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

New Podcast Episode: Frederick Douglass Lynn, Massachusetts Sites

Frederick Douglass Memorial plaque in Lynn Commons, photo 2016 by Amy Cools

Frederick Douglass Memorial plaque in Lynn Commons

Listen to this podcast episode here or subscribe on iTunes

Seventh Day, Saturday March 26th

…Not long after Frederick Douglass began his public speaking career, he and his family moved here to Lynn from New Bedford. They lived here from the fall of 1841 through about November 1847. Well, actually, for much of that time, it was mostly Anna and the kids who lived here. First, Douglass was often on tour as a speaker, which took him away from home for long stretches. Secondly, he was away on a tour of the British Isles from 1845-1847, which is why many sources say Douglass himself only lived here until 1845. He returned only briefly to Lynn before moving himself and his family to Rochester near the end of 1847. His ‘industrious and neat companion‘ Anna took care of the household while he was away, and often took in piecework from Lynn’s thriving shoemaking industry to make sure the kids were always cared for and the bills paid on time….  Read the original account here

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and is ad-free, entirely supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

Frederick Douglass Lynn Sites, Part 2: Historical Society & Hutchinson Scrapbook

3 Portraits of Frederick Douglass at Lynn Museum, 2016 Amy Cools

Three portraits of Frederick Douglass at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Seventh Day, Saturday March 26th

As I mention in the first part of my account of today’s journey, Lynn proves to be a Douglass treasure trove for me, especially the Lynn Museum & Historical Society.

While I’m waiting to meet with a representative of the museum to look at some materials from the archives, I visit the  ‘Abolitionist Lynn’ exhibit upstairs. As discussed in the first part of today’s account, Lynn had a particularly active and vocal abolitionist community. As I also discussed in the first part of today’s account, that’s what brought Douglass, laborer turned abolitionist speaker, here to Lynn.

Abolitionist Pitcher at Lynn Museum, front and back, 2016 Amy Cools

Anti-Slavery Pitcher showing a slave auction at front, a slave mother and infant escaping on the back, and a praying manacled figure on the handle

Fugitive Slave Act poster, Lynn Museum, detail, 2016 Amy Cools

Among the many interesting exhibits I see are two posters, similar in format and general style but strikingly different in message and tone. One shows a man with an angry face, wearing a crown made of finger bones and brandishing a chain and whip, seated upon a throne and supported by three mournful slaves, three skulls, a Bible, and a copy of the Fugitive Slave Bill (Act) of 1850. A man in a white robe (perhaps a clergyman’s robe, since a judge’s robe would be black) is pouring an offering from a small cask into a fire on a small altar emblazoned ‘Sacred to Slavery’, while Daniel Webster, a leading Senator at the time famed for his eloquence, gestures to the throne, proclaiming ‘I propose to support that bill …to the fullest extent…’ and a bearded man behind him hangs his head in sorrow, lowering a crown labeled ‘Freedom’ from his head. Behind these figures, a barefoot escaping male slave wrestles with a pack of snarling dogs as two slavecatchers on horses gallop after him, a black woman and her children run into the open arms of an abolitionist white woman, and a statue of Minerva, goddess of wisdom and trade, topples from her pedestal on the hill.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was meant to put an end to a deeply divisive issue between the Northern and Southern states. Southern slaveowners were enraged that northern abolitionists, grown into an energetic movement and potent political force by this time largely due to the efforts of William Lloyd Garrison starting in the late 1820’s, were aiding slaves escaping to the North. The Act would not only force all Northern officials to cooperate in the capture and return of escaped slaves, it would force private individuals to do so too, on pain of fines and imprisonment. Northerners, especially abolitionists, saw this as an intolerable intrusion on personal conscience by forcing them to participate in a deeply immoral system, while Southerners saw this as a simple enforcement of property rights.

No Higher Law Abolitionist Poster, Lynn Museum, 2016 Amy Cools

No Higher Law Abolitionist Poster, from the Abolitionist Lynn exhibit at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society, March 2016

Senator, statesman, and orator Daniel Webster personified the central conflicts between North and South at that time. A Northerner hailing from Massachusetts, he irreparably damaged his political career through his support for the Fugitive Slave Act, the final and most sweeping of many such acts passed over the decades. Northerners who admired him for his commitment to preserving the Union and for promoting the modernization of the United States into a center of finance and industry from the mostly agrarian economy it had long been, hated this cession of state and personal autonomy to Southern interests. And however much the South loved the bill, their economy was almost entirely based on agriculture and capital investment in slaves, so Webster’s economic policies were intolerable to them regardless of this compromise to preserve the Union. As Abraham Lincoln recognized from the beginning, though he too tried to find a way, peace between the states could never be attained so long as the law, founded on certain conceptions of human rights, tried to accommodate that intrinsically incompatible ‘peculiar institution‘ of slavery.

Haitian Ambassador Poster detail, Lynn Museum, 2016 Amy CoolsThe second poster is a nasty (despite the author’s snarky claim that it’s ‘respectful’) caricature of the abolitionist women of Lynn and of black people in general. Addressed in the subtitle to the ‘500 ladies of Lynn who wish to marry black husbands, it’s basically an elaborate telling of that schoolyard jibe ‘if you love…. so much, why don’t you marry …?’ As you can recognize in the quotes of the ladies in the ballroom oohing and awing over the visiting Haitian ambassador, the author plays on many stereotypes of black people and of women at the time. And unfortunately, most of us ‘get’ the twisted jokes in these quotes because these stereotypes persist to this day.

The person who created this poster in 1839 could not have foreseen that one of Lynn’s future black residents, Frederick Douglass, would go on to to become one of Lynn’s and America’s most loved and admired citizens, and would be appointed to the high office of United States Consul General to Haiti in 1889. I, for one, would get some satisfaction out of time-traveling to visit the author and inform him of these historical developments, just to see the look on his face. Douglass was too dignified a man himself to engage in such a prank if it were possible; throughout his life, he practiced great self-discipline in keeping to the moral high ground.

Johnny Q and Haitian Abassador Poster, Lynn Museum, 2016 Amy Cools

Poster caricaturing Lynn’s abolitionist movement, 1839, from the ‘Abolitionist Lynn’ exhibit at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Politics of the Needle, Lynn Museum exhibit, 2016 Amy CoolsA seamstress and textile artist myself, I enjoy the exhibit of needlework artifacts here, created by the girls and women of Lynn’s abolitionist community to raise money for the abolitionist cause.

The sampler is a basic design, the only thing differentiating it from other samplers of the period is the cause it raised money for. The other pieces, through words and images, remind their owners not to forget the slaves’ plight while enjoying the freedom and comfort of their own daily lives.

The exhibit is filled with many more interesting artifacts and information, but to keep this account from becoming too long, I’ll refocus my attention on the main object of my visit here today.

Sampler by Julia Ann Boyce at Lynn Museum

Abolitionist needlework exhibit, Lynn Museum

Abolitionist needlework exhibit, Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Piano with John Hutchinson sheet music, Abolitionist Lynn exhibit, March 2016

Piano with John Hutchinson sheet music, Abolitionist Lynn exhibit, March 2016

The Hutchinson Family Scrapbook at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society

The Hutchinson Family Scrapbook at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Britt arrives (she so kindly takes time out of her day off to come in and meet me!) and greets me with a cart of artifacts: one is a folder filled with ephemera relating to Douglass, mostly newspaper clippings, and the other is an old scrapbook entitled: ‘Memorabilia of the Hutchinson Family’. She reminds me of what Nicole Breault, Education and Research Specialist, had informed me by email: the Lynn Museum’s archival materials are now housed at the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. She encourages me to visit and I long to do so, of course, but as I’ve been telling you, more and more to my regret, I only have two weeks for this trip and have no time to go! I hope to be able to follow up in future, and now have yet one more good resource for original sources.

So knowing time is short this morning, too, I begin with the exciting artifact here before me, the Hutchinson family scrapbook.

Hutchinson Family Singers Poster, Lynn Museum, 2016 Amy Cools

Hutchinson Family Singers Poster at the Abolitionist Lynn exhibit, March 2016, Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Portrait of John Hutchinson from the Hutchinson Family Scrapbook at the Lynn Historical Society. He's quite a handsome man, I think, with beautiful eyes

Portrait of John Hutchinson from the Hutchinson Family Scrapbook at the Lynn Historical Society. I think he’s very handsome, with beautiful eyes

It opens with a portrait of John Hutchinson. Douglass traveled on board with the Hutchinsons, the ‘sweet singers of anti-slavery and the “good time coming,”‘ (Life and Times) when he sailed to the British Isles on August 6th, 1847, on self-imposed exile when he felt the information contained in his newly published Narrative endangered his freedom.

The Hutchinson Family Singers vocal group was founded by John Hutchinson with his brothers Asa, Jesse, and Judson. The Hutchinson family was originally from New Hampshire, as Douglass described, but had many connections to Lynn: John saw a concert of a European singing troupe and was inspired to form his own in that style; the family later performed in Lynn; and John and his wife Patch settled here, on High Rock at the north part of the city, not far from the second Lynn home of the Douglass family. When Jesse became musical director of the group he stopped singing as often, but all of the brothers and sisters, as well as many spouses and other extended family members, joined in as full-time or occasional members. The group broke up into two ‘tribes’ since the brothers didn’t always get along (like so many brothers in bands together, like the great Kinks and maybe not the quite as great Oasis), but both groups were always billed as the ‘Hutchinson Family Singers’.

Civil War free pass and letter from Lydia Marie Child to John Huchinson, Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Civil War free pass and letter from Lydia Maria Child to John Hutchinson, Lynn Museum & Historical Society. The Hutchinson family would sing for the troops, by special permission of the Secretary of War, to cheer and inspire them. The great human rights activist and author Child applauds this in her letter to John of January 19th, 1862.

There are so many wonderful artifacts here, new thrills every time I turn the page! There’s a letter from Susan B. Anthony, great abolitionist, woman’s rights leader, and friend of Douglass, who I’ll discuss at greater length in a later account:

Susan B. Anthony Letter to John Hutchinson

Letter from Susan B. Anthony to John Hutchinson, December 9th 1892, sending condolences for the death of his sister Abby, an especially talented member of the group and also, as Anthony says here, dedicated to the women’s rights cause

Abby Hutchinson's tribute to Jesse upon his death on May 15, 1853

Abby Hutchinson’s tribute to her brother Jesse following his death on May 15, 1853. She replaced him as fourth member of the quartet when he stopped singing to become manager, then took over as manager when he died

There’s a note from Julia Ward Howe:

Note from Julia Ward Howe

Note from Julia Ward Howe, who wrote ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, which consisted of new lyrics to the tune of ‘John Brown’s Body’, a song about Douglass’ fiery abolitionist friend who led the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Both songs were popular Civil War hymns, for the Northern side, of course

Tremont Temple Abolitionist Poster, 2016 Amy Cools

Poster for Second Abolitionist Reunion at Tremont Temple in Boston, September 22nd 1890. As you may remember from my account of my day in Boston visiting Douglass sites, he spoke here often, and as you can see from the poster, he shared the stage with John Hutchinson and his daughter Viola, who donated the scrapbook to the Lynn Historical Society (see cover photo above). They close the meeting with Howe’s ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’

Hutchinson Family Paper celebrating 25 years as a group, with ringing endorsement by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Hutchinson Family Paper celebrating over 25 years as a group, with a ringing endorsement by feminist leader and Douglass’ friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Two portraits of Frederick Douglass from the Hutchinson Family scrapbook

Two portraits of Frederick Douglass in the Hutchinson Family scrapbook

John Hutchinson Song Dedicated to Frederick Douglass Cover Page from Lynn Museum Exhibit

Jesse Hutchinson Song dedicated to Frederick Douglass, cover page print from Lynn Museum Abolitionist Lynn exhibit

As with the Lynn Museum exhibit, I find there are so many interesting things here to share and I can continue on, but this account would grow meandering and very long (it’s going to be pretty long regardless!). So, I’ll return to the central subject of this account, publishing more photos of artifacts I find here today in later accounts as they pertain to the story, and tell you about my most exciting discovery of the day.

Do you remember this drawing on the left from the first part of my Lynn journey account, of the cover page for ‘The Fugitive Song’, written by Jesse and dedicated to Frederick Douglass?

In 1874, Douglass wrote a letter to John Hutchinson mentioning Jesse (the group was often called ‘The Tribe of Jesse’ even long after his death), and it’s here in this scrapbook. Yes, I’m holding an original letter written by Douglass himself, in my own two hands! Well, archivist-gloved hands anyway, and of course I don’t remove it from the scrapbook, just carefully turn it over to read both sides. Like I’ve said many times before, artifacts and physical sites have a very strong effect on me emotionally, which is what keeps me from being just an armchair history enthusiast and drives me out on the road. So, of course, I get the chills all over again, and feel more than a bit teary-eyed!

The envelope is addressed: 'John W. Hutchinson, Lynn Mass' from 'Fred'k Douglass'

The envelope is addressed: ‘John W. Hutchinson, Lynn Mass’ from ‘Fred’k Douglass’

But anyway, here’s the full text of the letter:

‘Biddeford, Nov. 18, 1874

My dear John,

I have only time while on the wing as I am, to tell you that you made me very much obliged to you for the little pamphlet you kindly put into [sic] hands night before last in Lynn, containing biographical sketches of the several members of your remarkably musical family. No apology was needed for its publication. All who have listened as I have done, to the ‘Concord of Several Sounds’ from members of the ‘Tribe of Jesse’ want more of the music and wish to know more of the persons from whom it comes. I especially have reason to feel a grateful interest in the whole Hutchinson family for you have sung the yokes from the necks & the fetters from the limbs of my race, and dared to be true to humanity against all danger to worldly prosperity and reputation. You have dared to sing for a cause first and for cash afterward. I know of few instrumentalities which have done more for liberty and temperance than have your voices. But I only took this moment simply to thank you for the pamphlets and not to speak in the praise of the dear family.

Yours very truly, Fred’k Douglass.’

Frederick Douglass letter to John Hutchinson, dated 1874, Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Frederick Douglass letter to John Hutchinson, dated 1874, Lynn Museum & Historical Society

At long last and with little time to spare, I finish looking at the scrapbook and turn to the other clippings and ephemera I find in the Douglass file folder.

George Latimer article, Lynn Museum Archives

George Latimer article, Lynn Museum Archives

I find an old newspaper clipping here that’s very interesting, unique in its details yet generally characteristic of how high the tensions were between abolitionists and supporters of slavery, and how tight-knit abolitionist communities were. New Bedford, as discussed earlier in this series, was one such community. Lynn and Boston both have a strong history of abolitionism as well (John Adams, a Bostonian of many years, was the only one among our first several presidents who not only didn’t own slaves, but consistently regarded it a great wrong).

Detail of George Latimer article

Detail of George Latimer article

The clipping tells the story of George Latimer, a former slave who escaped with his wife Rebecca to Baltimore, than onto Boston, where George was arrested; after Latimer’s freedom was finally purchased, he and his wife settled in Lynn. I had read this story in my research on Douglass; it was disputes over slaves escaping north, such as the Latimers, that led to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, since the slavecatchers had pursued Latimer into a free state. And as you can see in the newspaper account (you can open the image in a new tab and zoom in to read), Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell Phillips were champions for Latimer’s cause and held meetings in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, where I visited yesterday. You’ll also see that Jesse and John Hutchinson were among the activists protesting Latimer’s treatment, that the pastor of Tremont Temple Samuel Caldwell paid the $400 that purchased his freedom (paid his ransom?), and that Latimer and his wife were taken in by people on Joy Street, on Beacon Hill in Boston; I walked that street just yesterday as well.

I find many other old newspaper clippings in this folder, some of which I’ve shared with you already in the first part of my account of today’s visit to Lynn, others which I’ll share with you as they relate to my further discoveries on my Douglass journey, and still others I’m happy to share upon request. But I’ll go ahead and end this account here for time’s sake, and soon follow this with the tale of my next day’s discoveries.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to all at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society. Thank you so much to Nicole Breault for arranging my visit, Britt Bowen who gave me access to historical artifacts for study, the kind ladies who greeted me and showed me around, and to everyone else there who makes this place a beautiful place to visit and a great resource!

~ Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John and Patch Hutchinson from Family Scrapbook

John and Patch Hutchinson from Family Scrapbook

Sources and inspiration:

Blassingame, J. (Ed.). The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series One: Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. 4 volumes, and The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series 2: Autobiographical Writings. 3 volumes. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979-1999

Daniel Webster‘. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Douglass, Frederick. Autobiographies (includes Narrative…, My Freedom and my Bondage, and Life and Times). With notes by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Volume compilation by Literary Classics of the United States. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.

Foner, Philip S. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Vol. 1-4. New York: International Publishers, 1950.

Frederick Douglass Chronology‘ from the National Park Service – History & Culture: People

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850‘. from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Fugitive Slave Law‘, from The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship online exhibit from the Library of Congress.

Hutchinson Family Singers‘. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

The Hutchinson Family Singers: America’s First Protest Singers‘. Amaranth Publishing website

Lewis, Alan. ‘Abby Hutchinson Patton‘ and ‘John Wallace Hutchinson‘, Hutchinson Family Singers Web Site (archived)

Peculiar Institution.” Dictionary of American History, 2003, from Encyclopedia.com

Weatherford, Doris. ‘Lydia Maria Child‘, via National Women’s History Museum website

William L. Garrison‘. Ohio History Central website

William Lloyd Garrison‘. From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Frederick Douglass Lynn, Massachusetts Sites

John Hutchinson Song Dedicated to Frederick Douglass Cover Page from Lynn Museum ExhibitJohn Hutchinson Song Dedicated to Frederick Douglass Cover Page, 2016 Amy Cools

Jesse Hutchinson song dedicated to Frederick Douglass, cover page print from Lynn Museum exhibit (a fanciful illustration: in real life, he wore shoes and escaped by train and ferry)

Seventh Day, Saturday March 26th

I drive from Boston to Lynn, Massachusetts, only about 25 minutes north by car.

Not long after Frederick Douglass began his public speaking career, he and his family moved here to Lynn from New Bedford. They lived here from the fall of 1841 through about November 1847. Well, actually, for much of that time, it was mostly Anna and the kids who lived here. First, Douglass was often on tour as a speaker, which took him away from home for long stretches. Secondly, he was away on a tour of the British Isles from 1845-1847, which is why many sources say Douglass himself only lived here until 1845. He returned only briefly to Lynn before moving himself and his family to Rochester near the end of 1847. His ‘industrious and neat companion‘ Anna took care of the household while he was away, and often took in piecework from Lynn’s thriving shoemaking industry to make sure the kids were always cared for and the bills paid on time.

Douglass wrote his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave here in Lynn, and it was published by the Boston Anti-Slavery Society on May 28th, 1845. It sold well, and he became more than a bit nervous: he enjoyed freedom so much, of course, and now he had a family, he had even more to lose if he was to be captured and returned to slavery. After all, as discussed, he had said some not too nice things in his Narrative about his former master (who legally, still was), and who knows how badly Thomas Auld wanted to have him back in bondage! So, to avoid capture now that he publicly named his master and his whereabouts were more widely known, he sailed to England on August 6th, 1845, and embarked on an 18 month lecture tour of England and Ireland. Eventually, his abolitionist friends raised enough money to buy his freedom, or, as he conceived of it, to pay his ransom, and he was able to return home, arriving back in Lynn on April 20th, 1847. Though he was away so much, Lynn still played a significant role in his life.

Three Portraits of Frederick Douglass at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Three portraits of Frederick Douglass at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Lynn proves to be a Douglass treasure trove for me, primarily thanks to the Lynn Museum and Historical Society. Thank you so much to Nicole Breault for arranging my visit, Britt Bowen who gave me access to historical artifacts for study, the kind ladies who greeted me and showed me around, and to everyone else there who make this place a beautiful place to visit and a great resource! In fact, my visit to the museum was so full of wonderful discoveries that it needs its own separate piece, which will follow shortly.

Mural on wall of Lynn's greats on the side of Lynn Arts Building, crowned by portrait of Frederick Douglass Portrait, Lynn MA

Mural on wall of Lynn’s greats on the side of the Arts Building, crowned by portrait of Frederick Douglass Portrait

After I tear myself away from the museum (if it wasn’t closing just then, I don’t know how I’d tear myself away and get to visiting the sites on my itinerary!) and go eat a bit of lunch, I head for my first destination. On the way, my attention is caught by this vibrant mural on the side of the Lynn Arts Building at 25 Exchange St, where a portrait of Douglass presides over images of Lynn’s historical figures and creative and curious children (and other people) of today.

Newspaper clipping from the Lynn Museum and Historical Society about Frederick Douglass' train car sit-in

Old newspaper clipping from the archives at the Lynn Museum and Historical Society about Frederick Douglass’ Rosa Parks moment

I’m heading for the site of the old Central Square train station. Downtown Lynn is not easy for a first time visitor to navigate: no two streets seem to join at right angles. It takes me a few go-rounds to orient myself generally, yet I still often find myself often a little lost among the tangled streets. A man who tends a little restaurant called Capitol Diner, which looks like an old red train car, helps confirm that the place where the elevated tracks run above where Central Square meets Union and Exchange Streets is just about directly over the site of the early 1800’s train depots (there was a series of them), across the street from the mural on the side of the Arts Building.

Old Lynn Central Square and depot, photo by William T. Webster, via Wikimedia Commons

Old Lynn Central Square and depot, photo by William T. Webster, via Wikimedia Commons

Central Square Train Station raised platform

Central Square Train Station raised platform where the old train depot and Sagamore Hall once stood, to the right of the photo

According to Wikipedia, ‘The first depot at the Central Square location, built in 1838, was a small wooden building. It was replaced in 1848 with a brick building with a 2-track train shed.’

So it was in that smaller wooden incarnation that an incident occurred at this stop of a train between Boston and Portland. Douglass resisted being forced into a Jim Crow segregated car on September 28, 1841, while he was riding the train with his friend James N. Buffum, who would later become mayor of Lynn and who had inspired him to move to Lynn in the first place. Douglass simply refused to leave his seat, and when employees of the railroad company tried to remove him by force, he hung onto the seat until they were ripped and torn out of place.  As Edward Covey the slavebreaker had discovered some years earlier, Douglass was physically strong and no pushover.

Over time, he ended up doing this sort of protest often, to raise awareness. His letter about this experience was published in the newspaper, and local indignation and protests over this incident helped lead to the eventual end of segregated train cars in New England. It’s hard to imagine, to a modern reader in such an interconnected world, that there would be such a patchwork of racial sentiment in a geographic area that it took me only a few hours to cross by car. In Maryland, he was a slave; in New York City, he was free but in danger of being beaten or captured; in Boston, his Narrative was published in the same city where he was denied entry to the menagerie on Boston Common because ‘We don’t allow niggers in here!’ (as he reported); in Lynn, the trains were desegregated over rude treatment of a black customer. Amazing.

Clipping from Lynn Historical Society about Douglass' life in Lynn and Sagamore Hall

Clipping from Lynn Historical Society about Douglass’ life in Lynn and Sagamore Hall

A row of buildings on Central Square in Lynn, MA

A row of buildings on Central Square in Lynn, MA; the elevated train tracks at the right pass over the site of the old depot, and Sagamore Hall stood just beyond the tall white-faced brick building

In Central Square, I’m close to the site of Sagamore Hall where John Brown, fiery abolitionist, and friend and hero of Douglass, used to speak. Sagamore Hall was close and to the west of the depot, between Union and Mt Vernon Streets north of Exchange, also where that part of the elevated track structure now stands. If you look closely at the photo of the mural we looked at earlier, you’ll see the image of a burning building just under Douglass’ portrait: that’s Sagamore Hall burning down on November 25th, 1843. I’ll tell more about how John Brown figured in Douglass’ life, which was very significantly, before long. You’ve likely heard of him:  he led the unsuccessful raid on Harper’s Ferry from October 16th -18th 1859, in hopes of jump-starting a slave insurrection by providing them with a source of arms, and was hanged as a traitor for his trouble.

But when Douglass lived here throughout the early- to mid- 1840’s, he had not yet met John Brown, though they were here in Lynn contemporaneously. As Douglass tells it in his Life and Times, they would meet later, when Douglass lived in Rochester NY.

Market and Broad Streets near site of 1st Douglass family home in Lynn, 2016 Amy Cools

Market and Broad Streets, near the site of the first Douglass family home in Lynn, MA; their house would have been somewhere to the right of the iron structure

Manufacturing center of Lynn, Mass, by Bailey, O. H. (Oakley Hoopes) & J.C. Hazen Publisher: Bailey, O. H. & J.C. Hazen, 1879

Manufacturing center of Lynn, MA, 1879, by Bailey, Oakley Hoopes & J.C. Hazen

Douglass family homes in Lynn, MA, Lynn Museum & Historical Society placard

Douglass family homes in Lynn, MA, Lynn Museum & Historical Society placard

Then I head to the corner of Broad and Market Streets near the site of Harrison Court, where the first of the three Douglass family homes in Lynn used to stand. (I’m visiting the three Douglass home sites in chronological order).

There’s not much of historical interest here now: commercial buildings, broad highways, the big train station, and the iron skeleton of some new structure under construction. There are some great old photos of the area near Market and Broad Street at the Longyear Museum website’s Mary Baker Eddy photo gallery page; she lived a few blocks east of here at 8 Broad Street, and that home still stands. And if you look at these maps of Lynn from 1852 and from 1872, you can see where Harrison Court used to stand (I include both because, though the older one is closer to the Douglasses’ time here and more accurate for our purposes, the later one shows more detail when you zoom in). Look to the center bottom, just above the waterline and a little to to the right where two large streets come together in the point of a wedge. Click on that part to zoom in, and Harrison Court stood between the point of the wedge and the next main street running north and south to the left (Market), below Harrison St. Though none of the buildings from that time remain today, in any case, the modern openness of this place with the grassy Carroll Parkway, bright blue sky, and sea breeze is nice.

The unmarked V intersection at High and Baldwin Streets, near site of Frederick Douglass' second home in Lynn, MA

The unmarked V intersection at High and Baldwin (formerly Pearl) Streets, near site of Frederick Douglass’ second home in Lynn, MA

Then I take a brisk walk to my next destination, briefly east on Broad St then left (north) up Union St, then left again on Baldwin to the corner of Baldwin and High Streets. This is near the place where the Douglass family’s second home in Lynn used to stand. There are no street signs at all at this corner; missing street signs here and there is another reason I’ve been having a little trouble finding some places, hooray for GPS!) There’s now a tire and car care business, a white house with solar panels on its sharply pointed roof, and a three floor red brick building with arched windows. High and Baldwin streets meet here to make a ‘v’. The house, owned by Abel Houghton Jr., and where the Douglasses lived only briefly, stood somewhere near this corner. If you look at that 1872 map again), you can see the area where this house used to stand by following Union St from the point of that wedge where it meets Market to the northwest, then see where Pearl St (now Baldwin), meets it, running north and south with a crooked angle like a bent arm (Baldwin), High Street meeting it at the angle (inner elbow). Referring to the 1852 map, I don’t find the name of Abel Houghton Jr., or his Horticultural Society listed there, but it’s hard to read some of the names, or it may have changed hands in the approximate decade between between the time the Douglasses lived here and the time the map was drafted.

Newhall St between Sagamore and Sechem Streets, 3rd of Douglass family homes in Lynn MA, where Douglass wrote his Narrative

Newhall St between Sagamore and Sechem. The third Douglass family home in Lynn, from 1843-47, used to stand here where the parking lot is now. Douglass wrote his Narrative here in 1845

Then I head southeast on Silsbee St, which turns into Newhall St. I follow Newhall south to a stretch between Sagamore and Sechem Streets, where the third Douglass family home in Lynn once stood. This is where he wrote his Narrative, where his family lived while he was in the British Isles from August 1845 to April 1847, and where he returned home (after arriving in Boston on April 20th). When she saw me looking around and taking photos, a lady named Crystal (‘born and raised here!’) helpfully confirmed that the parking lot on Newhall between Santo Domingo liquor store and Sechem Streets, where Amity St ends, is the site where the Douglass home stood. As the old maps show, it’s where or about where someone named Chase lived. As the Douglass home placard in the Lynn Museum (see above) describes, it was moved once to Sagamore St nearby but eventually demolished.

Lynn Commons Frederick Douglass Bandstand and Ampitheatre near Frederick Douglass memorial

Lynn Commons Frederick Douglass Bandstand and Ampitheatre near Frederick Douglass memorial

 Frederick Douglass Memorial plaque in Lynn Commons

Frederick Douglass Memorial plaque in Lynn Commons

Then I return to the car and drive just over 5 minutes away to Lynn Commons, which runs between the one-ways streets of North and South Common, and park along South Common near Shepard St. I walk east on S. Common a little ways and turn left on the path that cuts across the park and ends at Harwood St on the other side. Halfway across the commons, before I would reach Harwood St, to my left, there’s a white raised gazebo surrounded by benches to create a little amphitheater, and on my right stands a stone and brass monument to Frederick Douglass.

The raised gazebo is the Frederick Douglass Bandstand, built in 1887 near the site where Douglass used to deliver many anti-slavery speeches here from an earlier structure, which was perhaps on or near the spot where the memorial is now.

Frederick Douglass Memorial across from the gazebo in Lynn Commons

Frederick Douglass Memorial across from the gazebo in Lynn Commons

Boston Sunday Globe article about Douglass mentioning plaque on Lynn Commons, Lynn Museum, photo 2016 by Amy Cools

Boston Sunday Globe article about Douglass which mentions his plaque on Lynn Commons, clipping from the archives at Lynn Museum

So ends my eventful day in Lynn, Massachusetts, but really, there’s much more to come. Remember, I haven’t yet finished telling the whole story of today’s journey which includes a couple fascinating hours in the Lynn Museum and Historical Society this morning (soon to follow), and I’m only halfway through my trip, there are still seven days to go!

*Listen to the podcast version here or on iTunes

~ Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sources and Inspiration:

Bailey, Oakley Hoopes & J.C. Hazen, 1879 map of Lynn from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library

Blassingame, J. (Ed.). The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series One: Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. 4 volumes, and The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series 2: Autobiographical Writings. 3 volumes. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979-1999

D.G. Beers & Co., 1872 map of Lynn from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Re-published 1993, Avenal, New York: Gramercy Books, Library of Freedom series.

Douglass, Frederick. My Bondage and My Freedom: 1855 Edition with a new introduction. Re-published 1969, New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Fichter, David. Lynn Mural Project: Stories of Lynn, 50 ft. X 60 ft. Lynn, Massachusetts [Acrylic paint and mosaic]. From davidfichter.com

Foner, Philip S. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Vol. 1-4. New York: International Publishers, 1950.

Frederick Douglass Chronology‘. From Frederick Douglass National Historic Site District of Columbia, National Park Service website

Levine, David. ‘Lynne, MA: Frederick Douglass Bandstand‘. History Stands Still: The Background of Bandstands Throughout New England blog

Lewis, Alonzo. The History of Lynn: Including Nahant. (p. 257) Boston: Samuel N. Dickinson, 1844.

Lynn (MBTA Station)‘. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

McFeely, William. Frederick Douglass. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991.

McIntyre, Henry. Plan of the City of Lynn Mass. from Actual Surveys, 1852. From the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. Central Square and Depot: 1848 Central Square station in Lynn, Webster, William T., Publisher

Rosenberg, Steven A. ‘City Embraces its Civil War Connections. May 31, 2012. TheBostonGlobe.com

Walker, G.H. City of Lynn, Massachusetts, 1891. Atlas Map. Pub. Geo.H. Walker & Co. From David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at davidrumsey.com

Rededication of the Frederick Douglass Bandstand and Marker‘. General Orders, Issue 68, Sep 2015, Published at 58 Andrew St, Lynn MA

The Register of the Lynn Historical Society, Volumes 8-12, by Lynn Historical Society

Fundraising Campaign for Frederick Douglass’ Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas Series

Frederick Douglass with his second wife Helen Pitts and her sister Eva, public domain via Wikimedia CommonsAs you may know, dear readers, I’m embarking on the travel portion of my fifth philosophical-historical themed adventure in mid to late March. I’m off to Baltimore, MD, New York, Washington DC, and other East Coast sites to follow in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass.

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you.

Every single bit helps, from $1 on up: directly through your contribution, and indirectly by inspiring confidence and enthusiasm in others who see the support already given.

As always, I count on you to help me accomplish what I do here; thanks to all who have contributed in the past, and thanks in advance to all who contribute in the future!

What the Frederick Douglass Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas Series project will produce:
– A series of essays on the ideas of Frederick Douglass, how they relate to his time and ours
– A series of travel accounts of sites associated with Douglass’ life and ideas throughout the East Coast. I’ll be seeking insights into how the places informed the man, and vice versa. These will double as historical-philosophical investigations to bring Douglass to life in the mind of the reader, and as inspiration for other traveling history enthusiasts
– A series of downloadable walking tours to accompany the travel series: just subscribe and download in iTunes, and you’ll have your own travel guides to East Coast places I travel to for this series
– Free educational resources: supplementary teaching materials on the life and ideas of Douglass
– And if all goes as planned, a book!

Budget: In the interests of transparency and so you know exactly where your hard-earned, generously donated funds go, here’s the breakdown:

Primary Goal: $2,500 – To cover airfare, lodging, ground transportation, and advertising for Frederick Douglass’ Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series
– Airfare: to DC or NYC about $500 (w/taxes and fees)
– Car Rental: average $28 / day = $392
– Lodging: average $50 per night, will be staying with friends some nights = $700
– Parking / Fuel / Public Transportation: average $25 per day = $350
Subtotal = $1,942

Any amount I’ve saved on the above costs or amount collected in excess will be spent on paid advertising (Facebook, Google Adwords, Bing, Pinterest, etc, even a radio spot if funds allow!), which will be listed here, so that the total spent comes to $2,500. (I also advertise in a wide array of free venues)

Secondary Goal: $1,500 – Monthly wages
This year, O.P. is making a big push to include an expanded and more in depth history of ideas travel series, more regularly published podcast with downloadable history of ideas travel guides, interviews with fascinating people, scholarship and educational materials, more great guest posts, and so much more! To accomplish all this, O.P. will need to pay its own expenses and if possible, wages, so I can throw spend less time at other occupations, throwing myself into O.P. with all the heart, time, and energy I long to dedicate to this project.

Please visit the Subscribe, Submit, and Support page to help me fund this project.

I thank you in advance, from the bottom of my heart, for any support you can offer

Sincerely,

Amy Cools

 

From Oakland to Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts I Go, in Search of Frederick Douglass

Hello, friends of Ordinary Philosophy!

From time to time, I take a trip to some corner of the globe, to explore the lives and ideas of great thinkers in the places where they lived and worked. For this series, I follow in the footsteps of thinkers who are no longer alive, since those who are still telling their own stories. But those who are no longer alive in the body live on in the ideas that they pass on, and in the example they provide for us to follow.

I’m pleased and excited to announce my fifth philosophical-historical themed adventure, beginning with research and study in Oakland, CA, then off to Baltimore, MD, New York, Washington DC, and other East Coast sites to follow in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass’s life story is inspiring and humbling in the strength, character, and dazzling intellect he reveals, rising to such greatness in the midst of such adversity. Born a slave on the eastern shore of Maryland in the early 1800’s, he was an autodidact, having overheard his master say that learning to read leads to learning to think, rendering a slave too independent-minded to submit to domination by another. Hearing this, young Frederick knew what he had to do. Attaining literacy and learning a skilled trade gave him the wherewithal to escape to New York City in 1838 at about 20 years of age. A few years later, as a result of an impromptu but impassioned and eloquent speech about the hardships of a life enslaved, he was recruited as a public speaker for the abolitionist cause. He spent the rest of his life as an activist for all manner of human rights causes, from the abolition of slavery to universal suffrage to women’s rights and beyond.

Douglass is an especially compelling subject for a historian-philosopher; observing the true nature and ramifications of slavery led him to think deeply about the most essential questions in human life, which, in turn, spurred him on to a life of thought and action on behalf of oppressed peoples. In these roles, Douglass had a heavy influence on American thought and on the course of American history. He asked, and answered: What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to be a person of faith? What are rights, and why are we entitled to them? What is dignity, and does possessing it entail that we have certain obligations to ourselves and others? Given the frailties and strengths of human nature, how can we best live together and form just societies? What do the Constitution, its Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence really say about slavery, equality, and other human rights issues?

So I’ll begin my tale here in my home city of Oakland, CA, where I begin my research and exploration into Douglass’s life and ideas, then off to the east coast of the United States I’ll go, from March 19th thru April 2nd! There, I’ll visit landmarks associated with his life, places where he lived and died, worked, thought, wrote, studied, and rested, to see for myself how the places informed the man, and vice versa.

~ Listen to the podcast version of this series intro here or on iTunes

Here is the story of Frederick Douglass as I discover him:
Traveling Philosophy Series: Frederick Douglass Edition, Prologue, Oakland, CA
Frederick Douglass on Faith and Doubt
Frederick Douglass on the Constitution
Frederick Douglass the Pragmatist
Frederick Douglass Baltimore Sites
Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace, Maryland’s Eastern Shore Sites Part 1
Frederick Douglass, Easton and St. Michaels, Maryland’s Eastern Shore Sites Part 2
Frederick Douglass Havre de Grace and Philadelphia Sites
Frederick Douglass New York City Sites
Frederick Douglass New Bedford, Massachusetts Sites
Frederick Douglass Boston Sites
Frederick Douglass Lynn, Massachusetts Sites
Frederick Douglass Lynn Sites, Part 2: Historical Society & Hutchinson Scrapbook
Frederick Douglass Albany, Troy, and Syracuse NY Sites
Interview with Leigh Fought on Anna and Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass Rochester NY Sites, Day 1
Frederick Douglass, Rochester NY Sites Day 2
Interview with Ken Morris, Anti-Slavery Activist & Descendant of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass Seneca Falls, Canandaigua, Honeoye, and Mt Hope Cemetery Sites
Frederick Douglass Chambersburg and Gettysburg PA Sites
Frederick Douglass Washington DC Sites, Day 1, Part 1
Frederick Douglass Washington DC Sites, Day 1, Part 2
Frederick Douglass Washington DC Sites, Last Day

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

Patrons of the Frederick Douglass series: RH Kennerly, Elizabeth Lenz, Alex Levin, Cory Argonti Cools, Bryan Kilgore, Michael Burke, Gaia So, Veronica Ruedrich, Blair Miller, Alex Black, Devin Cecil-Wishing, Roxanne and Fred Smalkin and family, and Jim Callahan and Nerissa Callahan-Stiles and family. ~ With warmest gratitude, thank you!