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[Detail] North Star, June 2, 1848. Edited by Frederick Douglass.

Historical Comprehension: Reconstructing Events in Haiti During Douglass’ Tenure as Consul General

Frederick Douglass was not only a writer, publisher, orator, and activist, he was also a public servant. In the years following the Civil War, he held several government posts, including U.S. consul general in Haiti, a post he assumed in 1889. By 1891, Douglass had resigned from the position amid some controversy.

What happened in Haiti to cause controversy? Read a speech about Haiti that Douglass gave following his return from Haiti.  What can you glean about the events in Haiti from the speech? What was Douglass’ attitude about the controversy?  Check your hypothesis against the Frederick Douglass Timeline for the years 1877-1895. Why do you think the United States was interested in Mole St. Nicholas?  How could you determine if the criticisms of Douglass’ role in the negotiations had merit?

Historical Comprehension:  Reading Douglass’ Analysis of African Americans’ Exclusion from the World’s Columbian Exposition

Examine Douglass’ introduction to Ida B. Wells’ pamphlet “The Reason Why The Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition.”

  • In what context did Douglass write this introduction? That is, what was the stimulus for publication of the pamphlet? To whom was the introduction addressed?
  • What were the central questions Douglass addressed in the introduction?
  • What did Douglass mean by the statement, “Though it [slavery] is now gone, its asserted spirit remains”?  Was this a fair appraisal of the exclusion of the African American from the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893?  Explain your answer.