1. "In Their Own Right: Images of African Americans from The Art Institute of Chicago" was held from Sept. 27, 1997, through Jan. 11, 1998.
2. Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (Boston, 1845; repr. New York, 1968); idem, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York/Auburn, N.Y., 1855; repr. New York, 1969); idem, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Hartford, Conn., 1881; repr. New York, 1983).
3. Douglass' weekly newspaper was published under two names, North Star (1847–51) and Frederick Douglass' Paper (1851–59). Frederick Douglass' Monthly, which had begun as a supplement to Frederick Douglass' Paper, became his sole publication from 1859 until 1863; and in 1870 he bought a part-interest in another journal, which he renamed New National Era and published until 1873.
4. The chief source of Frederick Douglass material—letters, manuscripts of speeches, etc.—is the Frederick Douglass Collection in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The most important scholarship on Douglass is to be found in Philip S. Foner, The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, 5 vols. (New York, 1950–75); William S. McFeely, Frederick Douglass (New York, 1991); and Benjamin Quarles, Frederick Douglass (New York, 1948). Two earlier studies of note are Frederic May Holland, Frederick Douglass: The Coloured Orator (New York, 1891); and James M. Gregory, Frederick Douglass: The Orator (New York, 1893).
5. J. W. Hanson, D.D., ed., The World's Congress of Religions: The Addresses and Papers Delivered before the Parliament and an Abstract of the Congresses Held in the Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., August 25 to October 15, 1893, under the Auspices of the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1894), p. 17.
6. Frederick Douglass, The Reason Why the Colored Man is Not in the Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1892); repr. Foner (note 4), vol. 4: Reconstruction and After (1950), p. 475.
7. F. W. Putnam, Oriental and Occidental Northern and Southern Portrait Types of the Midway Plaisance (St. Louis, 1894). For a discussion of both Putnam's plan and his publications, see James Gilbert, Perfect Cities: Chicago's Utopias of 1893 (Chicago, 1991), pp. 109–10.
8. Dr. Samuel Morton, Crania Americana (Philadelphia, 1839). Unknown for most of the twentieth century, these studies of slaves were rediscovered in 1975 at Harvard University's Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Mass. For a full discussion of them, see Brian Wallis, "Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz's Slave Daguerreotypes," American Art 9, 2 (summer 1995), pp. 39–61.
9. Although Wallis (note 8), p. 39, said that there were six thousand whites and one hundred thousand slaves in the vicinity of Columbia, South Carolina, this city, which was the most modern in the state and its commercial center, was a rare instance in which whites actually constituted the majority. Slaves did outnumber whites statewide, but the area of the highest ratio of blacks to whites was around Charleston, in the Tidewater parishes. Even there, the figures did not approach the fifteen or sixteen to one suggested by Wallis. I am indebted for guidance on this question to Professor Peter Woods of Duke University, Durham, N.C. For more on the issues involved, see George M. Frederickson, "Masters and Mudsills: The Role of Race in the Planter Ideology of South Carolina," in idem, The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality (Middletown, Conn., 1988), pp. 15–17. Also enlightening are William W. Freehling, Prelude to the Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina (New York, 1966); and Stephen A. Channing, Crisis of Fear: Secession in South Carolina (New York, 1970).
10. Frederick Douglass, The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered: An Address before the Literary Societies of Western Reserve College, at Commencement, July 12, 1854 (Rochester, N.Y., 1854); repr. John W. Blassingame, ed., The Douglass Papers: Series One, Speeches, Debates, and Interviews, 1847–54, vol. 2 (New Haven, 1982), pp. 497–525. While he may not have been aware of Agassiz's daguerrean study of slaves, Douglass did know about Agassiz's theories. Earlier, in his address at Western Reserve, Douglass referred to Agassiz in the same breath with Crania Americana's author, Samuel Morton, and other anthropologists whom he considered racist; see ibid., p. 503; for Douglass on Crania Americana, see pp. 508–14.
11. There were other insults to the African American during the Columbian Exposition that must have rankled Douglass. The World's Parliament of Religions was sullied by the message and tone of papers dealing with race. In "Religious Duty to the Negro," for example, Chicagoan Fanny B. Williams found "negroes" noble in slavery, but problematic once they were free; see Hanson (note 5), pp. 893–97. In an event connected with the Parliament of Religions—the World Auxiliary Congress on Evolution—religious support was expressed for the view of the nineteenth-century English philosopher Herbert Spencer that evolution as a progression had left Africans behind. The fair also marked the introduction of "Aunt Jemima" pancake mix, establishing a stereotype of great longevity in American life; see Marilyn Kern-Foxworth, "Plantation Kitchen to American Icon: Aunt Jemima," Public Relations Review 16, 3 (fall 1990), p. 59.
12. Herald of Freedom (Concord, N. H.), Feb. 16, 1844.
13. Quoted in McFeely (note 4), p. 371.
14. The oil painting is now in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. See Washington, D.C., National Portrait Gallery, Majestic in His Wrath: A Pictorial Life of Frederick Douglass, exh. cat. by Frederick S. Voss (1995), pp. 22–23. This catalogue for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery was published the year before the Art Institute's daguerreotype came to public attention.
15. Douglass to Richard D. Webb, Apr. 16 (?), 1846, in Foner (note 4), vol. 5: Supplementary Volume, 1844–1860 (1975), p. 42.
16. For a detailed discussion of this daguerreotype and the events surrounding it, see Hugh C. Humphreys, "'Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!' The Great Slave Law Convention and its Rare Daguerreotype," Madison County Heritage 19 (1994), pp. 1–64. This journal is a publication of the Madison County Historical Society, Oneida, N.Y.
17. I am indebted to Mary Panzer of the National Portrait Gallery for sharing with me the hypothesis of Will Stapp, former Curator of Photographs at the Gallery, that the portrait may date as early as 1845.
18. Allison Davis, Leadership, Love, and Aggression (New York, 1983), p. 89. This essay appears as the second chapter, "Douglass, the Lion," in Davis's book on prominent African Americans. The others discussed are W. E. B. DuBois, Richard Wright, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
19. See Pittsburgh, Dargate Auction Galleries, Estate of Hans Tauchnitz, Mrs. Standish, David Ferguson, Plus Other Select Consignments, Apr. 27–28, 1996, lot 642, pp. 51–52.
20. Martin R. Delany to Douglass, in North Star, Apr. 28, 1848, p. 2.
21. Beacon Journal (Akron, Oh.), Mar. 5, 1888.
22. Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.), Apr. 28 and May 5, 1854.
23. The convention that all men's garments buttoned left over right seems to have been universal by Douglass' era. See John Peacock, Men's Fashions: The Complete Sourcebook (London, 1996), pp. 58–75, 203–204; and Penelope Byrde, The Male Image: Men's Fashion in Britain 1300–1970 (London, 1979), pp. 71–124 passim.
24. Douglas Severson, photography conservator at the Art Institute, determined from the state of the preserver that he was the first person to open this assembly since the daguerreotype was made and fitted with its case. This accounts for the pristine condition of the plate, for efforts to repair or restore daguerreotypes have usually tended to damage them instead.
25. See Floyd Rinhart and Marion Rinhart, The American Daguerreotype (Athens, Ga., 1981), p. 402 (listed as S. S. Miller, not Samuel J. Miller); and John S. Craig, Craig's Daguerreian Registry, vol. 3: Pioneers and Progress, MacDonald to Zulky (Torrington, Conn., 1996), pp. 88, 395.
26. Akron Summit Beacon, Aug. 25, 1852, p. 3.
27. Samuel Alanson Lane, Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County (Akron, Oh., 1892), p. 30.
28. For a discussion of the economic conditions under which the daguerreotype was introduced, see Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene: A Social History, 1839–1889 (New York, 1938), p. 39.
29. Edward Waldo Emerson and Waldo Emerson Forbes, eds., The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841–1844 (Boston, 1911), pp. 110–11.
30. Ibid.
31. Frederick Douglass, "Self-Made Men," The Papers of Frederick Douglass, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., reel 18. By citing, among the various complete texts and fragments of this talk to survive, the version published when Douglass delivered it at the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Penn., I have followed the example of Rafia Zakar, "Franklinian Douglass: The Afro-American as Representative Man," in Eric J. Sundquist, ed., Frederick Douglass: New Literary and Historical Essays (Cambridge, Eng., 1990), pp. 99–117.
32. The more elaborate story about Ball, which ran in Frederick Douglass' Paper on May 5, 1854, was a reprint from an Apr. 1, 1854, issue of the popular magazine Gleason's Pictorial.
33. Quoted in Foner (note 4), vol. 1: Early Years, 1817–1849 (1950), pp. 379–80. Douglass was reviewing an 1849 book entitled A Tribute for the Negro by Wilson Armistead that was illustrated with engravings (repr. Miami, 1969). Whether some of these were based on daguerreotypes, which were by then commonly used as a basis for the lithographs and engravings published in books, is unclear. Douglass himself is one of the subjects profiled, and the accompanying portrait of him was poorly copied from the engraving in his first autobiography. Douglass' use of the word "take" in his article suggests that he had a photographic process in mind, although at this stage of its history the medium was not generally considered capable of the amount of manipulation he was talking about here.
34. Albert Bushnell Hart, Slavery and Abolition, vol. 16 of American Nation Series (New York, 1910), p. 196; quoted in Quarles (note 4), p. 63.
35. Douglass to Sidney Howard Gay, Sept. 1847, in Foner (note 33), pp. 262–63.
36. I am thinking here not only of Douglass, but of Abraham Lincoln, who said that two things got him elected President: the speech he gave at New York's Cooper Union in 1860, and the widely distributed photograph Mathew Brady took of him that night; see James D. Horan, Mathew Brady: Historian With a Camera (New York, 1955), p. 32.
37. Caleb Bingham, comp., The Columbian Orator: Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces: Together with rules, calculated to improve youth and others in the ornamental and useful art of eloquence, 18th ed. (New York, 1816).
38. Quoted in James W. Tuttleton, "Frederick Douglass," The New Criterion 12, 6 (Feb. 1994), p. 22.
39. James Russell Lowell, in The Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), Feb. 13, 1845; quoted in Quarles (note 4), p. 19.
40. Genesis 32:24–28. While Douglass, like Abraham Lincoln, did not subscribe to any of the organized religions of his day, he did feel himself to be a man of destiny, someone whom God had chosen to fulfill His will. This belief began in boyhood when a slave called Uncle Lawson told him he had a mission in life, and it ripened into a conviction that he had been born to be a prophet of his people. Recent scholars who concur in Douglass' own assessment of his importance include William B. Rogers, who has placed Douglass in a prophetic tradition going back to the Puritans; see William B. Rogers, "We Are All Together Now": Frederick Douglass, William Garrison, and The Prophetic Tradition (New York, 1995), pp. 21, 124. Douglass' prophetic role has also been noted by the author of his definitive modern biography, William S. McFeely (note 4); see note 51.
41. Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (note 2), p. 246.
42. Ibid., pp. 358–62. See also idem, Life and Times . . . (note 2), pp. 219–21.
43. Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (note 2), p. 360. See also idem, Life and Times . . . (note 2), p. 218.
44. Sundquist (note 31), p. 10.
45. Douglass to Maria (Weston) Chapman, Mar. 29, 1846, in Foner (note 33), p. 142.
46. Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (note 2), p. 364.
47. Quoted in Philip S. Foner, Frederick Douglass, A Biography (New York, 1964), p. 82.
48. Douglass, Life and Times . . . (note 2), p. 282.
49. Quoted in Washington, D.C. (note 14), n.p.
50. Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison, in The Liberator (Boston), Mar. 27, 1846.
51. McFeely (note 4), p. 173.