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Frederick DOUGLASS

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SIGNED BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS AS MARSHAL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, OFFICIAL 1886 DOCUMENT SIGNED IN HIS LAST MONTHS AT THE POST AFTER PRESIDENT CLEVELAND ENDED HIS SERVICE

DOUGLASS, Frederick. Document signed. Washington, D.C.: J.S. Tomlinson, June 26, 1886. Original ivory leaf (14 by 17 inches unfolded; 3-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches folded). $1250.

Official 1886 document signed by Frederick Douglass as marshal of the District of Columbia, a position he held under three presidents, dated less than two months before President Cleveland removed him from the post.

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." The year he signed this document, Douglass delivered a speech that held President Cleveland' and both parties accountable for the surge in mob violence and lynchings, declaring them complicit in murder and wondering "why the nation did not let forth a collective scream of pain" (Blight, Frederick Douglass, 583-4, 587-8, 665). President Cleveland removed Douglass from his post the same year, and he served his last month as marshal that August. The following month he left for an extended visit to Europe. He would not return until August 1887. This original official document, printed and completed in an unidentified hand, is signed by Douglass on the docketed front panel titled, "Deed-Quit-Claim," which states: "Received for Record" with the date of June 26, 1886. It covers a transfer of property from Margaret Simon to Dennis Shea and John Shea. With notary public embossed stamp and signature. Number "3" on upper corner.

Signature dark and clear.

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