Notes: A biography of Frederick Douglass by the longtime leader of the Tuskegee Institute (now University). Washington frames Douglass as an inspiring figure from the past, part of an era of "destruction and liberation" focused on slavery and its immediate aftermath. Washington implies that the more difficult task of "construction and reconciliation" has fallen to the generation of the early 20th century. Washington writes that Douglass "lived long enough...to realize that what slavery had been two hundred years or more in doing could not be wholly undone in thirty of forty years... In his later years he came to understand that the problem... was larger and more complicated than it seemed."
"Frederick Douglass" is a volume in the Crisis Biographies edited by Ellis P. Oberholtzer, which was planned as a twenty-five volume series "to give an impartial view of the causes, the course, and the consequences of the Civil War." Oberholtzer wanted W. E. B. Du Bois to write the biography of Douglass, and Du Bois agreed. However, Washington also expressed interest and the publisher felt he was the bigger draw and gave the assignment to Washington over the editor's recommendation of Du Bois. Du Bois wrote the biography of John Brown instead. (See The Battle for the Souls of Black Folk, pp. 212ff).
This book has been scarce on the market with the general assumption that it was not widely distributed. However, careful examination of a number of copies has identified at least three different printings, the last in the 1920s.
[1–5] 6–365  pages.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing with the following points of issue: a list of the American Crisis Biographies on page , with Judah P. Benjamin as the last of six biographies published; publication place listed as "Philadelphia and London" on the title page; binding of fine-grained dark blue cloth; title, author, series, and publisher stamped in gilt on the spine; frontispiece printed on one side with Douglass facing right; pages bulking 1-3/32 inches; top edge gilt).
This is an attractive, bright copy, with a previous owner's name stamp on front pastedown and a cracked rear hinge neatly strengthened with Japanese tissue.
Publication: Philadelphia and London: George W. Jacobs & Company, 1907.
Item No: #362464