Death of Frederick Douglass

The unexpected and sudden death of Mr. Douglass has awakened a sense of profound sympathy never before expressed toward a person identified with the Negro race, and seldom toward one of the white race. We are not surprised at the manifestations of profound respect and sorrow of the colored people, and we rejoice, too, that the white race has shown almost equal regard for his memory, by their attendance when he lay in state in Washington, and when his body was interred in Rochester. The press has voiced the sentiment of the nation in the full and eulogistic notices of his life. Frederick Douglass deserved it all.

No man, perhaps, in this country has broken through so heavy a crust of ignorance, poverty and race prejudice as was done by this boy born on a slave plantation, stealing his education, fleeing from his slave home and then achieving for himself a rank among the foremost men of the nation in intelligence, eloquence and of personal influence in the great anti-slavery struggle of this country. He has achieved honors in the public service of the nation, and has faithfully and honorably fulfilled every trust laid upon him.

Mr. Douglass is among the last survivors of that band of Abolitionists that were so potent in their influence in arousing the nation to the evils of slavery. The recent death of Theodore D. Weld, in his ninety-first year, recalls a name now almost forgotten, but that two generations ago indicated the foremost orator in the anti-slavery ranks. The poet of anti-slavery, Whittier, has gone recently, and now the most conspicuous name left of that noble band is that of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The American Missionary Association has reason to congratulate itself that its last annual meeting was made memorable by the presence of Mr. Douglass, and its vast audience stirred most deeply by his eloquent address. In that address he expressed his gratitude for himself and his people for the work done by the Association in their behalf. And in a letter subsequently addressed to the senior secretary of the Association, he says, in speaking of that address: “I am very glad to have been able thus publicly to record my sense of the value of the great work of the Association in saving my people. I am a friend of free thought and free inquiry, but I find them to be no substitute for the work of educating the ignorant and lifting up the lowly. Time and toil have nearly taken me from the lecture field, but I still have a good word to say in the cause to which the American Missionary Association is devoted.”

The appointment of Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota, to be a member of the Board of Indian Commissioners was an appointment eminently fit to be made. Few men in this country stand higher in their knowledge of the Indians and their wants, or have shown a more intelligent and self-sacrificing interest in their behalf.

The Indian Territory, occupied by what has been regarded as the Civilized Tribes, is in a precarious position. The recent investigation by the Committee under ex-Senator Dawes has brought out the facts in startling distinctness. The recommendations of the Senator are very clear and radical, but it is feared that delay in the settlement of the question will only protract and aggravate the difficulty.




Various. The American Missionary, Vol. 43, No. 8, August, 1889.

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