Frederick Douglass: American
February 28, 2011

A Truly Great American With a Life that Stands on Its Own

Dr. Woodson Ultimately Is Responsible for Black History Month and Started It Partly With Douglass In Mind

Black History Month:  Some time ago, February was designated as Black History Month.   I have mixed emotions about that particular designation.  I think it’s always a good thing to focus attention on history, particularly American history since so many Americans really don’t know a lot about their nation.  I suppose the whole idea rose from the notion that the school system in this country didn’t really mention much about African-Americans except in the context of slavery.  However, I have a problem with a focus on a particular group of Americans. I am not saying that it’s wrong to have such a month; I guess I really think that its too bad that it was a necessity.  You see,  those individuals who are discussed in February are part of American history and I believe that they should be seen simply as Americans because all citizens, past and present are, in my view, my American brother and sister and my fellow American.  Race, religion or ethnicity does not add or dimish their position as an American.  Another thing that bothers me is the a grand oversight.  I’ve gone to some Black History Month presentations and they always quite properly include Dr. Martin Luther  King, Jr.  Sometimes they talk about the contributions of George Washington Carver at the events of which I have attended.  Typically following the discussion of such well-known luminaries, they go off into some modern rappers or sports stars.  If it’s a good presentation, then it will rightfully include Jackie Robinson, but Mr. Robinson sometimes loses out to other Americans whose acheivements really don’t measure up to that of Robinson or Carver and certainly not even in the same neighborhood as Dr. King.  But, almost every time, they leave out someone whom I believe to be one of the most important Americans in our history.  His name is Frederick Douglass and all Americans should know about the man.

Slave Cabin probably not unlike one Douglass shared with his grandmother for a few short years

Even though Douglass often is left out of the Black History month discussion, his life was actually part of the reason why February has the designation.  The foundation of Black History Month dates back to the 1920’s when a Harvard doctoral graduate and former slave chose the month of focus since both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born in February and Douglass also died then as well.  Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in February 1818.    Douglass often suggested that his mother, Harriet Bailey, conceived Douglass following the advances of white man who was not his mother’s husband.  It may be for that reason that Douglass did not live with his mother but instead was put in the cabin of his grandmother Besty Bailey by owner, Captain Aaron Anthony.  Even though he lived with his grandmother, it didn’t take long for Douglass to be hired out and so his familial ties were not strong.  In 1826, he went to Baltimore to work and live in the household of Hugh and Sophia Auld.  Sophia was Capt Anthony’s daughter and Douglass lived with the couple for 7 years from 1826 to 1833.  During that time, he watched the Auld’s young son and also was taught to read and write by Sophia…that is until Hugh told her to stop.  But, the seeds were already sewn.

Frederick Douglass Broke the Chains and Headed into History

Douglass continued to teach himself to read and write on his own.   He secretly helped organized schools for slaves.  He resisted his position as a slave.  He tried to escape and was imprisoned for awhile and was sent to a plantation where slaves who needed to be “broken” were sent.  But, he never bowed.  In 1838, he broke his bonds and escaped to New York.  He got married and had children.  He fell in with abolitionists.  He had read books related to oratory and taught himself to make public speeches.  At the age of 23, he gave a speech at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society convention and caught the attention of many abolitionists included renown abolitionist William Garrison.  Now, Douglass given name was really Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey but he realized that if he were to go on the speaking circuit, then he’d have to change his name to Frederick Douglass.  Afterall, he was officially a fugitive slave and could be returned to slavery.  So, he adopted the last name of Douglass. 

Click on Image For Information Regarding Book that details relationship between Lincoln and Frederick Douglass

On two occasions, Douglass fled to Europe to avoid recapture.  On one of his trips, sympathetic Europeans who heard Douglass speak raised money and bought his freedom.  By the time of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass finally was safe in the land of the free and home of the brave.  His autobiography that detailed his life in slavery was a huge hit and the words  he wrote and the words he spoke were significant contributors to the ultimate destruction of slavery.  Not only for the general public, but also for President Abraham Lincoln who consulted with Douglass regarding Lincoln’s policies and thoughts concerning slavery and the emancipation issue.  That included an idea Lincoln had about creating a colony in South America where freed  slaves could live.  Lincoln for a time had  the notion that Blacks and Whites were never intended to live together nor was it possible.  While he did  not believe in equality of the races, Lincoln also felt it was morally wrong for take what was earned from “the sweat of another man’s brow.”  Douglass impressed him as a tremendous mind and thinker and also took into consideration Douglass’ admonition that America was as much his country as it was the President’s.  Remember, Lincoln was born in the country just 9 years prior to Douglass.  Lincoln knew that Douglass had a very good and strong point.

Douglass' marriage to Helen (sitting) Was Not Popular with White or Black late 19th century America

Frederick Douglass was a proud man.  He was a tough man.  He was a smart, self taught man and great thinker.  He was bold and fearless.  Not only did he contribute to the rights of  Blacks, he also lent his name and effort to the equality of women.  He even was on the ticket for an early feminist presidential candidate.  Age did not diminish his courage though.  After his first wife died, he married a white, feminist woman and that, he said, brought condemnation and scorn from both Blacks and Whites alike.  His story is absolutely remarkable and one that every American should know and be proud to be able to say that Frederick Douglass was our American brother.  So, as Black History month comes to a close  just remember that the legacy and life of a great American, Frederick Douglass,  deserves as much recognition and acknowledgement as any American.  In my view, there is no other adjective beside “American” is needed to describe Frederick Douglass.  As he did in life, he can stand on his own for  the ages.

How a Master Politician Leads from the White House
August 20, 2009

Master Politician in the White House

Master Politician in the White House

Greeley: Bad Timing-Nice Chin Whiskers?

Greeley: Bad Timing-Nice Chin Whiskers?

On this date in History:  This little tale has to do with politicians doing their job well and in this case, by perhaps the greatest politician in US history.  The Civil War had been blowing and going since the first shots were fired at Fort Sumnter in April 1861.  From the outset, there were a number of abolitionists in the North who wanted President Lincoln to openly claim that the war was about slavery.  In a practical sense, it was, but the president did not want to publically say so and instead said the aim of the war was to maintain the Union.  But, that wasn’t enough for New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley.

Greeley had started the Tribune in 1841 as a platform for his reformist ideas.  He advocated westward expansion, temperance,  support for the labor movement and opposition to land monopoly and capital punishment.  If you think about it, in some form or another, all of these “reforms” became part of the national landscape, though capital punishment has returned over the last 30 years to become more common again with some restraint.  Greeley actually got elected to Congress for a short time and one of his ideas eventually became the Homestead Act in 1862.  But, it was in that year that Greeley was really chomping at the bit for the president to take action.  On this date in 1862, Greeley wrote a sharp editorial in his newspaper that called on the president to declare free all slaves in the border states of Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Delware.  Lincoln had resisted such calls in the past because he wanted to make sure those 4 slave states that featured the “peculiar institution” remained with the Union.  He needed them as they all were in strategic locations.  Missouri was needed to control the Mississippi.  Kentucky was needed to control the Ohio.  If Delaware and Maryland turned, then Washington DC would be surrounded. 

Lincoln's Response to Greeley

Lincoln's Response to Greeley

Now, Congress had passed the Confiscation Act of 1861 and of 1862.  This allowed the Union Army to seize Confederate property as part of the war effort.  This included slaves.  But Union commanders were reluctant to do so and Lincoln did nothing to encourage them to do so.  Now remember, the “liberal” or reform party of the time was the Republican Party and Greeley had been an organizer from the outset.  He could not understand how a Union victory could come about without destroying slavery and said, “the Union Cause has suffered from a mistaken deference to Rebel slavery.”  Lincoln responded immediately in a letter to the New York Times, referencing Greeley’s article written on the 19th, but published on the 20th.  If it had been the 20th century, Abe would have no doubt hit the tube.  Even then, Lincoln knew the adage that an attack unanswered is an attack capable of persuading.

Final Version of Emancipation Proclamation

Final Version of Emancipation Proclamation

Now, it was true that Lincoln had never publically indicated any preference for Greeley’s views.  But, he had abhored slavery since he was a young man and publically stated his opposition to the practice on numerous occasions.  Nevertheless, he knew it was delecate matter and so he waited.  Greeley could have saved his ink because just a month after Greeley’s thunderous editorial, because a month before, Abraham Lincoln had read a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation to Secretary of State William H. Seward and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.  After a few changes, Lincoln then waited for a Union victory.  It wasn’t a  great victory but the Battle of Antiem was good enough.  Following that dubious victory, Lincoln presented his preliminary version of the proclamation that announced that all slaves held in rebellious states to be forever free.  Now, that probably didn’t suit Greeley because it left the men, women and children in servitude in the 4 northern states.  But, Lincoln knew that as a practical matter, the eradication of slavery as a war measure in the Confederacy necessarily meant that, after the war, slavery would end elsewhere.  He had always argued that he did not have the Consitutional authority to get rid of slavery in the states.  But, as Commander in Chief, he could.  So, at the right time, he took what he could get when the public would support him as a way to win the war.  The final version of the Emancipation Proclamation took effect January 1, 1863.   Afterward, there was no way after a bloody Civil War and all but four states free that those 4 states could remain as a slave culture.  Greeley, while noble in cause, had no ability in the art of politics and is probably why President Lincoln goes down in history as one of America’s greatest statesman while Greeley’s time in Congress didn’t last long and is little remembered.

Keep this in mind whenyou hear of politicians taking what they can get today with an eye for the future when they think that they can get the whole pie. Also, be wary of those who try to compare themselves to the master politician from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Thu 8am to Fri 8am

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Thu 8am to Fri 8am

SPC Tornado Probability Thu 8am to Fri 8am

SPC Tornado Probability Thu 8am to Fri 8am

Weather Bottom Line:  We had some shower activity in the morning hours and conventional wisdom would suggest that this will suppress rain chances until the atmosphere has a chance to become more unstable.  Afternoon heating should do the trick.   The 6Z model runs have come more into agreement and follow pretty much what I had suggested previously which was we’d end up somewhere in between the rather menacing outlook by previous GFS runs and the pedestrian solution by the earlier NAM.  It looks like prime time for the risk of strong  t’storms will be in the early evening…say 5pm to 8pm.  The severe parameters have come down on the GFS and gone up on the NAM with the NAM actually having a SWEAT index higher than the GFS, but its not totally clear because the GFS does not have a specific set of data for the 6pm time..it doesn’t come out hourly so it’s possible that indeed the SWEAT index of the GFS is as high or higher than the NAM but you can’t tell because its in between the reporting times.  Anyway, look for t’storms this

Severe Hail Probability Thu 8am to Fri 8am

Severe Wind Probability Thu 8am to Fri 8am

afternoon, some could be strong. The biggest threat of stronger winds and potential tornadic activity is northeast of Louisville toward the Great Lakes in assocation with the parent low.  I think this scenario bodes well for the east coast and the track of Hurricane Bill.  The front is not quite as pokey as previous suggestions and therefore should make it the coast in time to keep Bill away.  The models also more or less agree on an inch or so of rain but the GFS seems more interested in having some over-running rain into Friday morning and that makes some sense.  I would  think rain totals of something over an inch would probably be realistic.  Afterward, this strong trof will still lower temperatures through the weekend below seasonal averages with highs around 80 with some folks not getting out of the 70’s on Saturday and maybe Sunday.

DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK  
 

Severe Hail Probability Thu 8am to Fri 8am

Severe Hail Probability Thu 8am to Fri 8am

  NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   0717 AM CDT THU AUG 20 2009
  
   VALID 201300Z – 211200Z
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS RED RIVER/LOWER MS RIVER VALLEY
   INTO THE NORTHEAST…
  
   …SYNOPSIS…
   ANOTHER DIFFICULT SEVERE TSTM FORECAST TODAY AS LARGE AREA OF VERY
   MOIST AIR REMAINS ESTABLISHED FROM THE SRN PLAINS/DEEP SOUTH INTO
   THE NORTHEAST…WHICH WILL BE OVERSPREAD BY SEASONABLY STRONG
   MID/UPPER LEVEL CYCLONIC FLOW.  A SERIES OF WEAK IMPULSES AND
   ASSOCIATED SURFACE WIND SHIFTS/FRONTS WILL LIKEWISE ROTATE ACROSS
   MUCH OF THE CENTRAL/NERN U.S. AND CONCENTRATE AREAS OF STRONG/SEVERE
   THUNDERSTORMS THROUGH THE PERIOD.
  
   …MID SOUTH/OH RIVER VALLEY INTO THE ERN LAKES/MID ATLANTIC…
   APPEARS IMPULSE SUPPORTING BROKEN LINE OF TSTMS MOVING ACROSS IND
   EARLY THIS MORNING WILL CONTINUE ENEWD THROUGH THE DAY…WITH
   PRECEEDING AIRMASS BECOMING MARGINALLY TO MODERATELY UNSTABLE BY THE
    EARLY AFTERNOON.  WITH MODEST SWLY FLOW ALOFT STRENGTHENING THROUGH
   THE DAY…DEEP LAYER SHEAR SHOULD BECOME MORE THAN ADEQUATE FOR
   SMALL LINES/CLUSTERS OF STORMS CONTINUING INTO THE EARLY TO MID
   EVENING.  PRIMARY NEGATIVE ACROSS THIS REGION IS FORECAST WEAK LAPSE
   RATES WHICH WILL LIMIT AVAILABLE INSTABILITY.  HOWEVER…FORECAST
   SOUNDINGS SUGGEST PARAMETERS WILL BE SUFFICIENT FOR ISOLATED WIND
   DAMAGE AND HAVE ADJUSTED PROBABILITIES/SLGT RISK EWD ACCORDINGLY
   NEWD TOWARDS SURFACE WARM FRONT LIFTING NWD ACROSS NY THIS
   AFTERNOON.
  
   FARTHER SW…SVR RISK REMAINS MORE CONDITIONAL ON RECOVERY OF
   AIRMASS AHEAD OF SSEWD MOVING SURFACE COLD FRONT/OUTFLOW INTO THE
   MID-SOUTH/MID MS RIVER VALLEY. GFS IS THE MOST AGGRESSIVE IN
   REDEVELOPMENT…WHILE NAM/HIGH-RES WRF SUGGEST LESS COVERAGE OF TSTM
   ACTIVITY LATER TODAY.  SHEAR OVER THIS REGION WILL REMAIN SUFFICIENT
   FOR ORGANIZATION OF STRONG STORMS…AND WILL THEREFORE MAINTAIN SLGT
   RISK AS ANY ENSUING DEVELOPMENT WOULD SUSTAIN A RISK OF WIND
   DAMAGE/ISOLATED LARGE HAIL INTO THE EVENING.
  
   …SRN PLAINS/LOWER MS RIVER…
   EXTENSIVE AREA OF TSTMS HAS PERSISTED MAINLY NORTH OF A SURGING
   SURFACE OUTFLOW EARLY THIS MORNING MOVING ACROSS THE MID-SOUTH INTO
   CENTRAL OK.  APPEARS AN ISOLATED THREAT OF LARGE HAIL AND STRONG
   WINDS REMAINS POSSIBLE WITH THE MORE ROBUST ACTIVITY THROUGH THE
   MORNING OVER OK INTO CENTRAL AR.  WHAT DEVELOPS LATER TODAY…AND
   WHERE…REMAINS A QUESTION ATTM.  THE FARTHER SOUTH THE SURFACE
   OUTFLOW/EFFECTIVE FRONT SETTLES…THE WEAKER THE LARGE SCALE WLY
   FLOW WILL BE.  ALTHOUGH A MODERATE TO STRONGLY UNSTABLE AIRMASS
   SHOULD EVOLVE WITHIN THE WARM SECTOR FROM THE TN VALLEY INTO
   TX…WEAK SHEAR AND ONLY MODEST LAPSE RATES SHOULD TEMPER OVERALL
   ORGANIZED SEVERE THREAT.  REGARDLESS…THREAT OF ISOLATED LARGE
   HAIL/DAMAGING WINDS FROM WEAKLY ORGANIZED CLUSTERS/LINES MAY WARRANT
   MAINTAINING CATEGORICAL SLGT RISK ACROSS MUCH OF THIS REGION.
  
   …UPPER MS RIVER VALLEY AND VICINITY…
   DESPITE BROAD AREA OF WNWLY WINDS THROUGH THE TROPOSPHERE AND
   RESULTANT WEAK LOW LEVEL CONVERGENCE…MODELS GENERATE MARGINAL
   SBCAPE AND SHALLOW MOIST CONVECTION UNDER MID LEVEL POCKET THIS
   AFTERNOON.  APPEARS LOW PROBABILITIES OF HAIL/WIND NEAR SEVERE
   LEVELS IS WARRANTED WITH THE STRONGER CORES THIS AFTERNOON.
  
   ..EVANS/JEWELL.. 08/20/2009