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 following the pioneering abolitionist work 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!

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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

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 Boston Sites

Phillips Street sign, where I begin my Frederick Douglass Boston journey, 2016 Amy Cools

I commence my Frederick Douglas Boston journey on Phillips St, and long for my bike. Mine is blue with upright bars for better sightseeing. Sigghhh.

Sixth Day, Friday March 25th

As I’m quick to discover, parking is at a premium in central Boston and its environs. I’ve decided not to pay the high garage rates and stick with metered parking (reasonably priced but harder to find). It’s to be expected in an awesome, busy, historically important city, of course, just be prepared! It’s such a handsome city, so much to look at, and I long for my bike: fleet, nimble, with uninterrupted view, parkable anywhere there’s a pole. At times such as this, a car feels like little but an expensive burden.

Frederick Douglass never did live here in Boston, but this city has many connections with his life: he and his family lived just a few miles north of here in Lynn from 1841-47. Douglass visited, worked, and spoke here often, and the Boston Anti-Slavery Society published his Narrative which, combined with his speaking tour of the British Isles and the United States that followed, catapulted him to fame and made him the leading African American abolitionist of his time.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, published by Boston Anti-Slavery Society, image L.O.C.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, published by Boston Anti-Slavery Society, image: Library of Congress. It was published on Cornhill St which no longer exists, but I passed near its old location while walking through City Hall Plaza

As I discussed an earlier piece on Frederick Douglass and the Constitution, Douglass had a falling-out over time with the abolitionist movement of William Lloyd Garrison in the early 1850’s. The Garrisonians rejected the Constitution as a pro-slavery document and as a result, considered the government unjust and therefore illegitimate; Douglass came to believe that the Constitution, if interpreted correctly, is an anti-slavery document, and the government must be reclaimed from its pro-slavery element by seizing power through political channels if possible, through violence if necessary. The advent of the Civil War changed everything; in the face of this monumental upheaval and national crisis, political and theoretical disagreements no longer seemed so important. (Douglass demonstrates, to my mind, that one can be fully both a fiery revolutionary and a pragmatist.)

In November of 1861, the Emancipation League organized in Boston, where Douglass, the followers of Gerrit Smith (who influenced Douglass to reexamine the way he interpreted the Constitution) and the Garrisonian abolitionists formally reconciled so they could rally and unite their efforts in the cause of the Civil War cause for national union and the end of slavery. Try as I might, I’m unable to locate any exact addresses where they assembled, though I find many newspaper accounts from the time announcing their meetings and relating their activities in Boston and elsewhere. These activities included petitioning the Senate to commence emancipation efforts in earnest.

From the Daily National Republican, January 12, 1863 2nd Ed, from Chronicling America, Library of Congress

From the Daily National Republican, January 12, 1863 2nd edition from Chronicling America, Library of Congress

I begin my day’s journey by heading up Beacon Hill, where many of Boston’s abolitionists and black people settled, to 43-47 Phillips St, one block north of Cambridge between Grove and Anderson. I start here for efficiency’s sake since it’s right up the way from the coffee shop where I’m marking out my map with some new details I’ve just learned. However, it doesn’t make sense to start my story here since what happens at this site is the second part of a two-part event, so I’ll tell you about it shortly.

Museum of Afro-American History and African Meeting House, Boston Massachusetts

Museum of Afro-American History in front of the African Meeting House, Beacon Hill, Smith Ct, Boston

African Meeting House on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA

African Meeting House, the oldest black church in America

Then I head east on Phillips, turn right (south) on Irving, left on Myrtle, left on Joy, to Smith Court which heads off to the left from Joy St between Cambridge and Myrtle. The African Meeting House stands at the end of Smith Court just behind the Museum of Afro-American History at 46 Joy St. The Meeting House was built in 1806 ‘…to house the first African Baptist Church of Boston (a.k.a. First Independent Baptist Church) and it is now the oldest extant black church building in America’ according to the National Park Service, which maintains it and many other Black Heritage sites here on Beacon Hill. Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Sarah Grimke all spoke here at the African Meeting House, and for those in this list of people I haven’t talked about yet in my account, they will feature later on. There’s a guided tour you can take in season (I’m here too early in the year for that) or the self guided tour. I wish I had another day to visit all the site, including the guided tour of the Meeting house which is actually available today but I’d have to wait till the next available time (which, sadly, I run out of). Next time I’m in Boston…!

There are a great few things about traveling to historical places in the off-season: the crowds are light and you can get better pictures, it’s cheaper to fly, and it’s a bit easier to park (the fact that I can hope to find street parking at all is pretty good, and I didn’t get a ticket either time my meter expired). But, the weather can be iffy, the trees are bare, and some places are closed or have very limited hours. So, you have to decide if the trade-offs are worth it.54th Regiment Memorial, Boston Common, 2016 by Amy Cools

Two closeups of the 54th Regiment Memorial at Boston Common. What determination revealed in these sculpted faces!

Two closeups of the 54th Regiment Memorial at Boston Common. What determination is expressed in these sculpted faces!

Then I turn back and head south to Boston Common, to the 54th Regiment Memorial on Beacon St at Park, near the park’s northeast corner. On May 28 1863, the Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regiment of 1000 troops marched triumphantly into Boston Common. It was the first black regiment to be raised in the North. As discussed in my post from yesterday’s travels to New Bedford, Douglass was instrumental in the fight to get Abraham Lincoln to authorize and federally fund black troops’ enlistment in the Union Army, and Douglass’ two sons Lewis and Charles enlisted to fight in this regiment. What a proud papa he certainly was!

Plaque honoring Crispus Attucks, at Philadelphia's African American Museum

Plaque honoring Crispus Attucks, at Philadelphia’s African American Museum

The 54th Regiment continued their march from Boston Common on to Battery Wharf (which I will also do soon), passing the site of the Boston Massacre. That incident, where a colonial mob dared British guards to fire on them until they did, happened outside of the Old State House, at Congress, Court, and Washington Sts. (John Adams successfully defended most of the British soldiers. Though he was as ardent a patriot as you could find, he was also a man of high integrity and made the legally sound argument and fair point that if a large mob attacks a small number of armed guards, they are duty bound to defend themselves, whatever side they’re on. Crispus Attucks, a man of African and Native American ancestry, was mortally wounded in that scuffle 0n March 5th, 1770, and is often regarded as the first American casualty of the American Revolution. When I passed by Philadelphia’s African American Museum a few days ago, I snapped a photo of his memorial plaque there, knowing I would soon visit the site of his death.

The Old State House, Boston Massachusetts

The Old State House in Boston Massachusetts, site of the Boston Massacre and of debates over whether the colonies should rebel against Britain

Back to the story of the 54th Regiment: Douglass was also active in recruiting efforts, believing that enlistment in the Union army, made possible by the Emancipation Proclamation, would give black people their chance to prove themselves as the strong, brave, patriotic, true Americans he knew them to be, and their participation in the war would establish their full right to citizenship once and for all. Unfortunately, black soldiers faced unfair and degrading treatment in the Union Army: lower pay than whites, less weapons and equipment, no chances for promotion, assigned the most dangerous and menial jobs, and so on. Many black soldiers, joined by the 54th’s white commander and son of wealthy Boston abolitionists Robert Gould Shaw, refused pay until it was equal, which was granted the next year. The South also imposed terrible penalties for captured black Union soldiers and anyone leading them: immediate execution, same as for insurrectionists. To his great credit, Shaw accepted no pay and braved the same risk of execution along with the rest of his regiment. In response to the poor treatment of black soldiers, Douglass stopped recruiting for awhile.

Tremont Temple (on the right), Boston, Massachusetts

Tremont Temple, the very ornamental building on the right, Boston, Massachusetts

Tremont Temple Plaque, Boston Massachusetts

Then I wind my way east of Boston Common to 88 Tremont St, between Bosworth and School, to Tremont Temple. From December 31st, 1862 through the next day’s New Year holiday, Union Progressive Association and about 3,000 attendees, abolitionists, and human rights advocates gathered to greet the official announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, and Douglass spoke at this event.

Tremont Temple doorway, 'First Integrated Church in America'

Tremont Temple doorway, ‘First Integrated Church in America’

Douglass had spoken here before, and at one time was roughed up when the recent election of Abraham Lincoln inflamed pro-slavery violence against abolitionists, even in relatively anti-slavery Boston. The Temple structure now here dates to 1896, replacing the original 1827 fire-damaged, much smaller building. Many years later, in 1893 (still in the old building), Douglass’s friend and inspiration Ida B. Wells delivered a lecture on lynching here at Tremont Temple; as discussed in my account of following Douglass in NYC, she inspired his anti-lynching activism later in life.

After the Union Progressive Association’s celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, the party left Tremont Temple, since it closed at midnight, and moved the meeting to Twelfth Baptist Church. After fighting, working, and hoping for such a proclamation for so long, the party was not to end anytime soon, not until the wee hours at least.

43-47 Phillips St, former site of Twelfth St Baptist Church in Boston, photo 2016 Amy Cools

43-47 Phillips St, former site of Twelfth St Baptist Church in Boston

I’ll backstep a bit here: remember the first site I visited today, on Phillips Street? That’s where the Twelfth Baptist Church (where the Emancipation Proclamation celebration continued) used to stand, founded by former congregants of the African Meeting House, at number 43-47 Phillips St, a little over a half mile away on the other side of Beacon Hill.

Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts

Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts

Then I head a little less than half a mile away in (kind of) the opposite direction of the Phillips St church site to Faneuil Hall at 1 Faneuil Square, where the body of Wendell Phillips lay in state in on February 6th 1884, after his funeral in the Hollis Street Church (more on this shortly, in fact, it’s the last story of the day and the most exciting as a traveling history nerd… ahem, enthusiast seeking a hard-to-find site). Phillips was another great human rights activist, writing in support of women’s civil rights including the right to the ballot box, in an article he published about two years before Elizabeth Cady Stanton famously introduced this same resolution at the 1848 Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls (we’ll be returning to this story in an upcoming piece). In his Life and Times, Douglass referred to the great abolitionist and reformer Phillip’s eloquence as ‘word painting’, an art which he had performed in life previously in this same hall.

A view from Battery Wharf, now used by the Coast Guard

A view from Battery Wharf, now used by the Coast Guard

Battery Wharf plaque maps, detail

Battery Wharf plaque maps, detail

Battery Wharf office building, Boston MA, photo 2016 by Amy Cools

Battery Wharf office building

Then after moving the car (again!) I head to Battery Wharf, where, as I described earlier, the 54th Infantry Regiment continued their triumphal march to the sea on May 28th, 1863, to travel by steamship to South Carolina. Seven weeks later, about a quarter of their number and their commander Shaw died in a bold and bloody assault on Fort Wagner. Though that battle was lost, the heroic example of these soldiers inspired many others to enlist, and Shaw’s body remained buried in a common grave with many of his soldiers. The Confederates who buried Shaw this way saw it as an insult, since officers were generally accorded their own burial with special honors, even by the enemy. Shaw’s abolitionist family and the soldiers inspired to join by the Fort Wagner fight, however, thought this manner of burial a great honor, and a testament to his courage as a soldier and his devotion to his men and the cause of human rights.

Tremont at Stuart, approaching the Citi Performing Arts Center, 2016 by Amy Cools

Tremont St at Stuart, approaching the Citi Performing Arts Center

I make the long walk south and a bit east, about a mile and a half, to the Citi Performing Arts Center. I’m seeking the site of the old Hollis Street Unitarian Church, where Wendell Phillips’ funeral took place prior to his lying in state at Faneuil Hall. This site took me far longer than any other site to find. I had scoured through old newspapers and finally discovered that his funeral was at ‘Hollis-street chapel’, certainly Hollis Street Unitarian Church, according to a Feb 16th 1884 edition of Washington D.C.’s The Bee. I found the entry in Chronicling America, an absolutely invaluable online resource for the history enthusiast on the go, an archive of old newspapers hosted on the Library of Congress website. (When fact-checking later, I find a secondary source that confirms this, based on another newspaper in an archive available only through a paid subscription.

Ye Wilbur Theater (left) and Wang Theater at Citi Performing Arts Center (right)

Ye Wilbur Theater (left) and Wang Theater at Citi Performing Arts Center (right)

To continue the story of Wendell Phillips’ funeral, which Douglass attended on February 56th, 1884… He was not alone: he was accompanied by his second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, who he had married just that January. Helen was white, and even many of their closest friends and family couldn’t deal this fact, as we’ll discover more about later in this series. Even at this church packed with Phillips’ and Douglass’ most progressive, ardent, life-long abolitionists and human rights activists, no one would dare to be the first to sit next to them until… who other than the most beloved author of my youth, Louisa May Alcott. Alcott’s show of friendship and solidarity warms the deepest parts of my heart. I read every single Alcott novel I could get my hands on throughout my girl- and young adult-hood, over and over again. As it was and still is for so many young people, especially girls and women in the English speaking world, she was one of my primary early influences, one who helped set my moral compass more than just about anyone or anything else.

Wang Theater back end, along alley off Tremont St

A rear side view of Wang Theater along the alley off Tremont St

I expect to find little here today, since the history of the church reveals it’s no longer standing, but I made the trip and spend some time poking around anyway. Because that moment at Phillips’ funeral is so beautiful to me, I’m doing to dig deep. Clearly, from the name, the church was on Hollis St; trouble is, there’s no longer a Hollis Street according to Google Maps, the print maps I have with me, or anywhere else online. Poring over old city atlases earlier today, I at last discovered where Hollis Street used to be. It seems that stood about where the Tremont St garage is now, just south of the historic and grand Wang Theatre of the Citi Arts Center and Tufts Health Sciences campus behind it. More specifically, Hollis St used to connect Tremont and Washington Streets halfway between Kneeland and Oak.

I also discover that Hollis Street Church became Hollis Street Theater in 1885, after the congregation moved to a more spacious location the year after the funeral. I poke around, and walk up and down the walkway between the Wang Theater and the garage. Could the Wang Theater be standing on the site of the old Hollis St Theater? I notice that the front of the Wang Building differs in motifs and materials than the wide of the building. It occurs to me that possibly, a building already standing here may have been incorporated into the Wang Theater. Could there be remnants here of the old Hollis Theater, once the old Hollis Street Unitarian Church where the funeral was held? In researching the history of the Wang Theater, formerly the Metropolitan Theater, I find no evidence of this; by all accounts this grand theater was built entirely in 1925, and the photos of the old Hollis Street Church show a very different looking structure, though looking at the half-windowed bottom parts of the two buildings (see photo below and at the end of this piece), there are some similarities. Too bad, that would have been a great find!

Wang Theater on Tremont St, side facing alley, showing contrast between marble front and brick back sections of the building

Wang Theater on Tremont St, side facing alley, showing contrast between marble front and brick back sections of the building. As you can see, this side is undergoing some restoration work

But in a moment of good luck, as I’m scanning the building and the area surrounding it for any evidence of older structures, I spot something among the scaffolding that wraps around the front and south sides of the Wang Theater as its south end it undergoing some maintenance. Near the corner of the building are old brass letters which spell out ‘Tremont St’ on its west side and ‘…ollis St’ on the south. My heart skips a beat. Here it is: confirmation that this is where Hollis St was.

Wang Theatre's south side with scaffolding, photo 2016 by Amy Cools

Wang Theater's southwest corner revealing where Hollis St used to be, photo 2016 by Amy Cools

Wang Theater’s southwest corner revealing where Hollis St used to be

Hollis Street Church from the northeast, 1870, image public domain via Library of Congress

Hollis Street Church from the northeast, 1870, photo public domain via Library of Congress

We can see what the church looked like inside from an old photo I found onlineBut more importantly for my purposes here, the Library of Congress has a photo of the church ‘taken from the Northeast’. If that description is right, then it seems that the church stood not where the Wang Theater does but across from it, somewhere under where the Tremont St. Garage stands now, with its side facing Hollis (as you can see, it opens onto a square rather than the street) with its steepled front facing towards but not onto Washington St, and its back to Tremont.

This last discovery, successfully triangulating the location where this beautiful moment of true friendship, of love and sympathy overcoming prejudice, makes me feel very emotional and celebratory. My friend recommends The Lower Bottoms, a place that pours excellent ales, so off I go as the sun sets.

Many more adventures and exciting historical discoveries soon to come, as I continue to follow Douglass north… come on back, y’hear?

*Listen to the podcast version here or on iTunes

Wang Theater (left) and Tremont St Garage (right) view from Tremont St. (west)

Wang Theater (left) and Tremont St Garage (right) view from Tremont St. (west)

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Sources and Inspiration:

1843 Boston Almanac Church Engravings: Hollis Street Church‘. Congregational Library Exhibits website

54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment‘. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

African American Churches of Beacon Hill‘ and ‘African Meeting House‘. Boston African American National Historic Site Massachusetts, National Park Service website

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

Boston Athenæum Theater History‘, from BostonAthenæ

Brooks, Rebecca Beatrice. ‘Funerals and Wakes at Faneuil Hall‘. History of Massachusetts: A History Blog About The Bay State. May 14, 2012

Bromley, George Washington and Walter Scott. Boston, 1895. Index Map. Pub. G.W. Bromley and Co. From David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at

Cutter, William Richard and William Frederick Adams, eds. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume 4. New York, 1910.

Daily National Republican. (Washington, D.C.), 12 Jan. 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

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.

Evening Star. (Washington, D.C.), 07 Feb. 1884. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

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

History of the Old State House Building‘. The Bostonian Society (website).

Hollis Street Church‘. (2016, March 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Hollis Street, Harvard Street. Boston 1819 and 1820 Street-Lines. Pub. 1819 by John Graves Hale, author unknown

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

Tremont Temple. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Wendell Phillips‘. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

What was the Boston Massacre?.’ John Adams Historical Society (website).