Lost History: Rev. H. A. Monroe, Godson to Frederick Douglass and Publisher of The Eastern Shore’s Only Black Newspaper (Dorchester County Historical Society, Sept. 20, 2019 @ 6:30 PM)

Following last fall’s presentation of “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Cambridge, Maryland,” at the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, historian and journalist John Muller returns to Cambridge to present “Lost History: Rev. H. A. Monroe, Godson to Frederick Douglass and Publisher of The Eastern Shore’s Only Black Newspaper,” at the Dorchester County Historical Society.

Special guest Sharon Lucas, descendant of Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe, will provide remarks.

Q&A will follow the presentation.

Untold in the history books is the story of Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe, who at 13 years of age served as a drummer boy for the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (U.S. Colored Troops) with the blessing of his Godfather Frederick Douglass.

Following the Civil War, the New Bedford, Massachusetts-born and educated Monroe was sent to Somerset County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to serve as an educator and supervisor for the Freedmen’s Bureau Division of Schools. It was in Fairmont, Maryland that Monroe met his first wife, the daughter of a well-respected local oystering family.

After receiving a patronage position in Baltimore City during the Grant Administration, Monroe and his family returned to Princess Anne, Maryland where Monroe started the only “Black Press” newspaper on the Eastern Shore.

Joining the Methodist ministry, Monroe served as pastor of Waugh Chapel in Cambridge, Maryland from 1881 until 1883 where he became a well-respected editor, historian and community leader.

In 1886 Monroe respectfully declined the opportunity to serve as the first principal of the Princess Anne Academy, founded by the Delaware Conference.

While serving as pastor for a church in New York City Monroe and a fellow delegation of ministers traveled to Washington City where they met with Frederick Douglass at the train station who escorted the group to meet with the President of the United States regarding conditions in the American South, including Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Holding prominent leadership positions within the church and communities of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia, Monroe was active until his passing in 1912.

Free parking is available on site.


$8 non-members, $5 Dorchester County Historical Society members, free Dorchester County Public School students


Brief note: To those who disgrace the lost local history of Frederick Douglass, Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe & co. on the Eastern Shore

“With the United States cap on your head, the United States eagle on your belt, the United States musket on your shoulder, not all the powers of darkness can prevent you from becoming American citizens. And not for yourselves alone are you marshaled — you are pioneers — on you depends the destiny of four millions of the colored race in this country . . . If you rise and flourish, we shall rise and flourish. If you win freedom and citizenship, we shall share your freedom and citizenship.”

– Frederick Douglass January 29, 1864, Fair Haven, Connecticut; address to the 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry regiment (USCT)

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

During a walking tour this past Saturday (13 July, 2019) of Old Cambridge City our delegation of Douglassonians gathered in front of Waugh Chapel at the junction of High Street and Pine Street to reflect and recognize Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe.

Although down range on Pine Street a historical marker in front of Bethel AME denotes that church’s history, there is no comparative historical marker in front of Waugh Chapel. No representation of and for Rev. Monroe in any existing popular literature covering the history of the community.


In recently speaking with a descendant of Rev. Monroe I heard an interesting anecdote. The Monroe descendant told me they attempted to broach the subject of their ancestor’s connections to Douglass at a book talk with Pulitzer-prize winning speculative historian and Yale University Sterling Professor David Blight.

Blight reportedly dismissively responded, “It’s probably in there somewhere.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a singular example of the disgraceful perpetuation of an institutional historical industrial complex which values superficiality and convenient mythology over the exacting quest for truth and fact that drives millions of collective genealogists, and historians of families and localized communities and regions throughout our sacred soil.

As an omnipotent mythomane David W. Blight is a complete disgrace to the scholastic and communal legacy of Dickson J. Preston who gave and took no quarter from intellectual cowards in his quest during the 1970s and 1980s to discover and uplift the lost and fallen history of Frederick Douglass in Baltimore and throughout the Shore.

In recent memory and across time, too many local Shore communities have been taken advantage of by those motivated not to uplift fallen humanity with lost history but to uplift their own social and political profile. People have made big coin off the veneer of local history. I needn’t name names. We know who they are.

There are those, such as Dickson J. Preston, who have labored in investigative research, historians as detectives. Then there are those who are always in the photos but have barely lifted a finger to help anyone other than themselves. We know who they are.

Current conditions within certain Shore local history communities are a disgraceful testament to the historical legacy of Frederick Douglass and his expansive networks throughout the peoples and political, educational, business and theological institutions of the Shore.

Blessed may be the merciful but I will afford no mercy to those who have disgraced the history and the community.

An awareness, appreciation and recognition of this lost Douglassonian community history will rise while the wicked will fall and perish.

Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.

Psalm 141:10 King James Bible