SIGNED BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS AS MARSHAL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, OFFICIAL 1883 DEED EXAMINED AND SIGNED BY DOUGLASS FOLLOWING HIS NOMINATION TO THE POST BY PRESIDENT HAYES
DOUGLASS, Frederick. Document signed. District of Columbia: J.S. Tomlinson, September 1, 1883. Original ivory leaf (14 by 17 inches unfolded; 3-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches folded).
Official 1883 document signed by Frederick Douglass as marshal of the District of Columbia, a position he held under three presidents, dated the same month he made his historic speech at the National Convention of Colored Men of America.
Soon after the inauguration of President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877, he placed "Douglass' name forward for marshal of the District of Columbia… the first time in American history that an African American was nominated for a position that required Senate approval… The marshal posted all bankruptcies in the District and remanded all prisoners back and forth between jail and the courts. In effect, he helped run the federal court that once adjudicated fugitive-slave cases. Hayes did, however, buckle under prejudice by relieving Douglass of one traditional duty—introducing distinguished guests at White House receptions… the appointment caused both a storm of protest and a wave of celebration in the press… Some journalists considered the marshal's job in the District second in importance only to cabinet secretaries, while others thought it largely symbolic. But the symbolism of a black man selected by the president carried broad significance…the marshalship gave Douglass a new kind of fame… he was now the outsider who would be the insider."
By serving as marshal, a post he held under three presidents, Douglass again "remade himself, and such an imperative was no less the case in post-Reconstruction America than in his earlier heroic life" (Blight, Frederick Douglass, 583-4, 587-8). The same month of Douglass' signature on this official document, he was named chairman of the National Convention of Colored Men of America, where he made the keynote speech. In it, he made a "detailed analysis of the color line, of mob violence in the South reinforced by 'lynch law'… Douglass minced no words… His faith in political solutions seemed shaken" (Blight, 645). This original official document, printed and completed in an unidentified hand, is signed by Douglass on the docketed front panel titled "Deed." With notary public signature, verification, embossed stamp and red foil stamp. Number "29" at upper corner. This August 14, 1883 real estate deed, examined and signed by Douglass, was "Received for Record" on September 1, 1883. It covers the sale of property by Walter Smith Cox, then a federal judge for the District of Columbia. Cox, who presided over the trial of the assassin of President Garfield, was known for his "forbearance. Guiteau's defense was known to rest on a plea of insanity, and Cox was determined to permit the defendant reasonable latitude in demonstrating his alleged incompetence" (American Heritage).
Signature clear and dark. In fine condition.