CENTREVILLE — Expect to hear the works of Frederick Douglass as never before reported. Impassioned historian, author and speaker Jon Muller will present on Douglass from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Queen Annes County Library. The session is open to the public at no cost, but advance registration through Eventbrite or the library is encouraged.
Muller is one of the younger and more current authors to dig into the history of Frederick Douglass and the far-reaching impact he had past his Talbot County origins. Expect Muller to recount what he describes as the previously unknown history of Douglass visiting and speaking to more than 500 hundred people in Centreville.
Muller said, arriving in Queenstown in Queen Anne’s County by steamboat from Baltimore, the visit of Douglass to Centreville drew visitors from nearby Talbot, Caroline and Kent counties.
An internationally known Douglassonian (sic), Muller, has previously presented on the lost and unknown history of visits Douglass made to Cambridge in Dorchester County and Denton in Caroline County. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.
Muller also will likely expound on the involvement of other African-Americans who were influential on the Mid-Shore and southern parts of the Eastern Shore in establishing news outlets, churches, and educational institutions. This past summer, he led a walking tour of Cambridge, visiting several sites including Longwharf and the Bethel AME Church — both places where Douglass spoke when visiting the Shore.
Muller said he hopes to draw light to the many connections Douglass made both locally and within political circles.
The history of Douglass touches a lot of communities — as far reaching as Cambridge to Hagerstown.
“The importance of uplifting this fallen history ... to give the communities the local history that hasn’t been told — the context of Frederick Douglass,” said Mueller. “The degrees of separation and these communities in Maryland are really very small, and my approach to history is what does history mean to average person — the person at the bus stop, the person waiting outside the library to be picked up. Because nobody has any ownership over history and it really bothers me that the history of Frederick Douglass has been minimized.”
By telling that history it will mean more, especially to younger people, and make Douglass less of a myth, Mueller said.
When interviewed for an event he staged in Caroline County earlier in 2019, Muller said one inference he has made, through researching Douglass’ speeches on the Eastern Shore, was that he was highly politically motivated and vocal within the Republican party. Muller said, after the Civil War, Douglass knew many influential state politicians running for office.
“Douglass was very involved in local politics in the state of Maryland without ever running for election himself,” Muller said. “He speaks at the courthouse, which I think is very significant because he spoke at at least four courthouses on the Eastern Shore.”
Also, highlighting the history of Douglass in select counties around the Eastern Shore is part of finding lost history about his life, Muller said.
Muller has been relentless in his pursuit of tracing Douglass’ time and connections throughout the Delmarva region, organizing several events in Dorchester and Wicomico counties and reaching out to educators and historians in Delaware as well.
“At upcoming Frederick Douglass-related events/tours on the Upper Shore of Maryland, whether prompted or not,” said Muller, “I will take a moment to explain the close connections Douglass had to people (educators, pastors, politicians, etc.) from Delaware and his visits to Delaware in the context of the Upper Delmarva. When coming to parts of the MD Eastern Shore, Douglass traveled through Delaware, sometimes stopping and locally connecting with old friends and/or making new friends. I’m particularly intrigued with the relationship of Douglass and those who owned/invested in the railroads of the Eastern Shore. This history has never been told, which is why it remains lost.”