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Announcing Frederick Douglass’ Vermont Fair Speech on the Assassination of Lincoln
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Possibly unique handbill advertising “Town Hall Lecture By the Great Colored Orator, Fred. Douglass, This Evening. Subject: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” On the first day of the county fair, September 27, 1865, Douglass spoke to a packed Rutland, Vermont, Town Hall.

Doors open at 7 o’clock, Lecture to commence at 8 o’clock. Admission 25 cents. Tickets for sale at the Herald Book Store or at the Door.

[FREDERICK DOUGLASS]. Handbill for Lecture on the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, [September 27, 1865, Rutland, Vermont.] 1 p., 5-3/8 x 5-7/8 in.

Inventory #26165       Price: $26,000

Douglass, having just arrived from Baltimore after a fatiguing journey of day and night, spoke for more than an hour and a half. He began with the assassination of President Lincoln, and then “gave a brief and interesting account of his life and character, and proceeded to consider the lessons to be derived from the appalling event....”

The October 5, 1865, issue of the Rutland Weekly Herald reported that Douglass’ “language was choice and elegant, yet vigorous and forceful; his manner self-possessed and graceful; his points telling; and his eloquence...thrilling and irresistible.” The large audience frequently applauded, and their interest “was unabated to the close of his instructive and eloquent lecture.”

He called Lincoln’s assassination “a warning to the nation to so treat the people of the South, to so ‘reconstruct’ the Union, that we shall not again have the same bloody course to travel over....” He concluded with a plea for the enfranchisement of the freedmen, demanding of the South “not vengeance for the past but ample security for the future.”

Douglass likely drew heavily on his eulogy delivered at Cooper Union in New York on June 1, not quite four months earlier, on the day set aside by President Andrew Johnson for prayer and the commemoration of Lincoln’s life. Several New York newspapers published summaries of Douglass’ remarks.

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