Frederick Douglass funeralized at Metropolitan AME Church in 1895

Official White House Photo of Mrs. Roosevelt

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White and Colored Attend the Funeral of Frederick Douglass.


Eulogies by Bishop Wayman, Pastors, Mrs. Sewall, and Others – Last of the Hutchinson Singers Present.

A Tribute of Two RacesWASHINGTON, Feb. 25 – Not since the unveiling of the Lincoln Emancipation Statue in 1878 has there been such a general gathering of colored people to pay tribute to a benefactor of their race as was witnessed to-day in and about Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the funeral of Frederick Douglass took place. The body was taken from Cedar Hill, near Anacostia, the home of the deceased, at 8:30 o’clock this morning, and reached the church about 9:30.

From that hour until 1:30 this afternoon, thousands of persons, including many white people, passed in double file through the building and viewed the body, which was in charge of a guard of honor, composed of members of a colored camp of the Sons of Veterans.

When the casket was closed at 1:30 o’clock, and further admittance to the general public was refused, several thousand people were assembled about the church, and the throng was made greater by the many who were filing out after viewing the body.

Delegations had in the meantime begun to arrive and were seated on the side of the church, a large structure, capable of holding about 2,000 people. There were delegations from New-York, Annapolis, Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia. That from Baltimore was 100 strong, headed by Bishop Wayman.

The altar and reading desk were covered with floral tributes, the most prominent of which was a magnificent shield composed of roses, orchids, and palms, sent by the Haitian Government, through Minister Haentjens. Another tribute was from B. F. Auld, the son o Frederick Douglass’s old master, who is now Captain of a police station in Baltimore.

The funeral procession entered the church shortly after 2 o’clock, headed by the Rev. J. G. Jenifer, the pastor, reading the ritual. In the procession were Mrs. Douglass and the family of the deceased; many intimate friends, including a number of white people; Senators Sherman and Hoar, Justice Harlan, Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. May Wright Sewall, President of the Woman’s National Council; the Rev. Anna H. Shaw, Mrs. Rachel Avery Foster, and a number of those attending the Woman’s Council.

The honorary pall bearers, who also formed part of the procession, were B. K. Bruce, W. H. A. Wormley, John R. Lynch, John F. Cook, E. C. Messer, P. B. S. Pinchback, C. B. Purvis, L.C. Bailey, John H. Brooks, J. H. Meriwether, John R. Francis, F. J. Barbadoes, D. L. Pitcher, B. E. Messer, and George W. Murray. Mrs. Sewall, Miss Anthony, and Mrs. Shaw were given seats on the platform.

The services were simple. The sermon was preached by the Rev. J. G. Jenifer, pastor of the church. He took for his text: “Know ye not that there is a a Prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?”

The Rev. H. E. Stevenson, pastor of the White Church in Anacostia, followed with a brief address, at the request of members of the family.

The Rev. J. H. Rankin, President of Howard University, also delivered a brief eulogy.

A letter from Mrs. Douglass, asking that a place be given in the programme to John Hutchinson of Boston, was read, and served as an introduction to Mr. Hutchinson, white-haired and white-bearded, the last of the famous Hutchinson family of Abolition singers, who, with his sister, accompanied Mr. Douglass to England on his mission against slavery. Mr. Hutchinson told some touching little stories of his lifelong friendship with the deceased, and then sang two requiem solos.

Secretary Nicholas of the Haitian Legation in the United States, representing Minister Haentjene, delivered a brief eulogy in French, which was translated by Mr. Durham, ex-United States Minister to Haiti. Secretary Nicholas expressed the sorrow of the Haitian Government and of its legation here at the death of Mr. Douglass.

Bishop Wayman, in his eulogy, merely named the great men from a number of States of the Union, and ended with the remark: “And last, but not least, Maryland has her Frederick Douglass.”

The Rev. W. B. Derrick of New-York said it was Frederick Douglass who made it possible for young colored men to have culture and polish to-day.

Moses H. Hodges, a colored baritone singer of Boston, sang a solo.

Miss Susan B. Anthony then arose to read a letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, highly eulogistic of the deceased. Mrs. Stanton, said Miss Anthony, was beloved by Frederick Douglass more than any other woman in the ranks of suffragists. On last Wednesday, as she sat with Frederick Douglass on the platform of the Woman’s Council, she had told him that he must be present at the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Nov. 12 next, to congratulate her on having rounded out four score years. “I shall be there,” he said, “and I shall be ready with my words.”

The letter of Mrs. Stanton recalled incidents in her association with Mr. Douglass, and told of her grief at his death.

Mrs. May Wright Sewall spoke feelingly of Mr. Douglass, who, she said, had not only opened up the way to the emancipation of his own people, but to the emancipation of woman.

The hymn “Seeking for Me,” was followed with an eloquent prayer by the Rev. Anna H. Shaw, and then Bishop Williams of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church delivered the benediction. The services lasted nearly three hours.

Mrs. Douglass and the children and other relatives of her husband filed out of the church and remained in a room below until the congregation had departed. Then the remains were borne to the hearse by eight colored letter carriers, and after the family, friends, and others entered the carriages waiting for them the funeral procession moved to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, where the casket was placed on board the funeral train for Rochester, N.Y.

The New York Times
February 26, 1895