Frederick Douglass and John Creswell; Maryland’s “Forgotten Abolitionist” from Port Deposit in Cecil County, Maryland

To uplift the lost history of Dr. Frederick Douglass on the Eastern Shore we must carefully consider the connections and contributions of Douglass to the ecosystem of Maryland’s expansive network of reformist circles including the church, secondary and higher education, editors, Women’s Rights, Civil Rights and temperance, among other issues and causes of progressive public policy and public administration.

From small-town council members to county commissioners to Baltimore mayors to governors to U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, Dr. Douglass knew generations of Maryland politicians of both parties at the municipal, state and national levels.

As a Border State the sectional divisions of the Union and the Confederacy, which tore the country apart, divided and separated regions of Maryland, as well as prominent families. President Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus and deployment of federal troops to enforce martial law impacted Baltimore City and areas of the Eastern Shore.

With the adoption of a new state constitution in November 1864, which abolished slavery, the process of Reconstruction began in Maryland before the conclusion of armed conflict.

During the Reconstruction of Maryland a prominent lost figure of local and national influence was Port Deposit’s John Creswell (1828 – 1891), an associate of Dr. Frederick Douglass.

According to, ” Forgotten Abolitionist: John A. J. Creswell of Maryland” published by Dickinson College’s House Divided Project:

In 1864, Creswell helped secure passage of an antislavery constitution in Maryland, the first (and only) popular vote for abolition in any U.S. state. He also led off the final congressional debates for the Thirteenth Amendment in January 1865, with an eloquent address that showcased the changing times. Nor did Creswell stop with this newfound embrace of freedom. After the war, the Marylander also became an unlikely advocate for equality of opportunity. While serving as a Postmaster General during the Grant Administration, Creswell helped to integrate and modernize the federal post office system.

Douglass and Creswell share stage at 15th Amendment rally in Baltimore

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Staunton Spectator. 31 May 1870.

Due the persistent proclivity to continue to whitewash the history of Dr. Douglass in Maryland, and across the country, very little is known beyond base and rudimentary mythology.

Therefore it is incumbent and extra necessary for Old Anacostia Douglassonians to set up throughout the state of Maryland and on the Eastern Shore to uplift the sacred lost history whereas several statewide institutions supported with public dollars have contributed little to nothing to further a scholastic understanding of Dr. Douglass.

As evidence of the general nature of the Lost History of Douglass in the state of Maryland, a very generous and respected “street historian” out of the Upper Chesapeake / Lower Susquehanna region of the Delmarva was unfamiliar with the connections between U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and Postmaster General John Creswell and Dr. Douglass.

It appears from initial research Douglass and Creswell traveled in the same circles of Radical Republicans and Women’s Right advocates with Baltimore City being the crossroads of their collective activities and contributions.

Library of Congress.

The most noteworthy connection of Postmaster General Creswell and Dr. Frederick Douglass was the lecture stage they shared in May 1870 at parade festivities celebrating the passage of the 15th Amendment, which supported the first generation of African American Congressmen and Senators entering the halls of the United States Capitol.

This history has been tragically lost.

But remember we are getting a taxpayer funded statue of Douglass in Annapolis? Save me the vapidness and speechifying of the mythology. Enough with the disgraceful historical illiteracy of the state.

Show and tell the lost history of Dr. Douglass. Your time is up. It’s a new day in local history. Get at me before I get at the lost history.