Before presentation of “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Cambridge” last September at the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center in downtown Cambridge the consequential September 1877 visit of United States Marshal of the District of Columbia Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass, in company with Hon. John Mercer Langston, to Cambridge was unknown in the local, regional, statewide, national and international mythology of the Eastern Shore’s most famous prodigal son.
With nearly 100 people attending the dual presentation of Master Eastern Shore Historian Dr. Linda Duyer and Old Anacostia Douglassonian John H. Muller, hosted by Honorable Mr. Donald Pinder and Honorable William “Bill” Jarmon of the Harriet Tubman Organization it is evident there is an abundant interest in the lost history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass within Cambridge and adjacent communities of the Delmarva Peninsula.
Continuous scholastic investigation has yielded more context and perspective to the lost history of Frederick Douglass in Cambridge and the expanse of the Delmarva.
Closely connected within and to Shore communities through associations and affiliations with both the Baltimore Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Douglass was associated with fraternal organizations on the Shore led by members of the Bailey Tribe, as well as networks within fields of education, politics, and journalism on the Delmarva.
Covering unknown tens of thousands of miles criss-crossing the country and world by ferry, steamboat, stage coach, street car and railroad for more than a half-century Dr. Douglass was a travelling man.
On several occasions across years of research we have found Dr. Douglass involved with what today would be called public policy issues of “urbanism,” such as petitioning the United States Senate to approve a proposal for extended service of the Anacostia and Potomac River Railway Company, a company in which Douglass was an investor and held stock.
As an advocate for organized labor and integration of transportation accommodations, there are several lines of discussion Dr. Douglass and W. Wilson Byrne, President of the Dorchester and Delaware Rail Road, could have maintained during the course of their entertainment in Cambridge.
Based in Cambridge, Bryne organized investors and a survey in the late 1860s, with the line from Camrbridge in Dorchester County to Seaford, Delaware completed in 1869.
In future posts we will discuss more of the lost history of Frederick Douglass and the railroads as it relates to a collection of railroad lines, train stations and executives. We know folks out there love railroad history and therefore the lost local history of Douglass on the Shore is also the lost local history of Delmarva railroads.
Ghost Visit of Dr. Douglass to Princess Anne, county seat of Somerset County
During the course of known and lost visits Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass made to the Shore — St. Michaels, Talbot County (June 1877); Easton, Talbot County & Cambridge, Dorchester County (September 1877); Easton, Talbot County & Cambridge, Dorchester County (November 1878); Queenstown & Centreville Queen Anne’s County (October 1879); Salisbury, Wicomico County (February 1880); Wye Island and Wye House [Talbot County], June 1881; Denton, Caroline County (November 1883); Port Depost & Rising Sun, Cecil County, (December 1885) and Easton & St. Michaels [Talbot County] (March 1893) — we have found at least three “Ghosts Visits.”
These are at least three occasions Douglass had confirmed and intended to visit and speak within a community of Maryland’s Eastern Shore yet for reasons beyond his control, such as bad weather grounding travel across the Chesapeake Bay, he was unable to meet his ambitious schedule.
Along with Ghosts Visits to Caroline County (1879) and Kent County (1889) we can confirm Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass had full intention to speak in Princess Anne, the county seat of Maryland’s southernmost Somerset County (1877).