Frederick Douglass Visited Port Deposit and Rising Sun in 1885

Since the Cecil County Public Library is sponsoring a Frederick Douglass living history program on February 16, this brief piece about a time in 1885 when Frederick Douglass visited Port Deposit and Rising Sun might be of interest.  The program is sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council.


Douglass as a young man.

Just days before Cecil County residents celebrated the arrival of a New Year, welcoming in 1886, an aging social reformer, orator, and writer, traveled to Cecil County to lecture on “The Self-Made Man.”  On his way to Rising Sun where the town’s literary society was sponsoring the program, the abolitionist leader, Frederick Douglass, who’d escaped from slavery, stopped for a few hours in Port Deposit.  There he attracted considerable attention.

The program on the evening of Dec. 28, 1885, attracted a large audience, the Oxford Press reported.  “Mr. Douglass is growing old and has lost much of his fire and vigor of mind as well as body, but he is still able to interest an audience.  He is a remarkable man and is a bright example of the capability of the colored race, even under the blighting influence of slavery, from which he emerged and became one of the distinguished citizens of the country.  His lecture was replete with advice for the younger portion of his audience,” the paper wrote.

The Self-Made Man” was a famous lecture by Frederick Douglass.  In the speech, which was first delivered in 1859, he gives his own definition of the self-made man and explains what he thinks are the means to become such a man, according to Wikipedia.  “Self-made men […] are the men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any of the favoring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results.”

Born in 1818 in Talbot County, he died in 1895.

Rising Sun in the late 1850s


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