Archives for posts with tag: Civil War


Hi all:

You know on Fridays I usually bring you a guest author. Recently I went to watch ’12 Years a Slave’, like many people. The film reminded me of my studies in American Literature, slave narratives, autobiographies, and in the list of people that came to my mind, I kept thinking about Frederick Douglass. I read his autobiography years back, and is it one of these books that make you realise that human will is a force like no other and gives you hope for the human race. And I thought I might as well share why I think he was such an example and a man we should never forget.

Frederick Douglass portrait

Frederick Douglass portrait

I’ll leave you a short biography, some quotes, links, and I recommend you read his autobiography. It is not only inspiring but a great read.


He was born into slavery, Frederick Washington Bailey, in Tukahoe, Maryland (7th February 1817 although the specific date is in question). He was the son of a slave woman (he only saw his mother a few times before she died when he was 7) and was brought up by his grandparents on a plantation. His father was white and he never knew him (it is suspected it could have been the slave owner).

When he was 8 he was sent to Hugh Auld in Baltimore. The wife of Auld taught him the alphabet (defying state law that slaves should not be taught to read) and he continued to learn from other kids. He returned to the plantation in 1833 and was sold to a slave owner renowned for his cruelty, until he confronted him when he was older. Whilst working in a shipyard at age 20 he managed to escape and went to New York City, where he changed his name to Frederick Douglass (name of the hero in Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake). He moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he worked as a labourer. He married for the first time Anna Murray, a free black woman, and had 5 children.

Always acknowledged as a leader by his peers, William Lloyd Garrison heard him speak at a meeting in 1841 and became his mentor. Douglass became an agent and lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society. He was very successful and with the help of the Agency he published the first of his autobiographical works The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1844).

Worried about the possibility of being recaptured by his former owner, he traveled to Britain and Ireland and lectured on slavery. While he was there he raised funds and established his own anti-slavery paper The North Star. This created a rift with William Lloyd Garrison who opposed such idea and this continued throughout the Civil War, despite efforts by Harriett Beecher Stowe. In 1855 he published My Bondage and My Freedom.

During the Civil War, Douglass tried to convince Abraham Lincoln that former slaves should be allowed to join the Union Army. After the war he continued his campaigns for full civil rights for former slaves, also advocating women’s suffrage and speaking on the Irish rule.

When his first wife died, he married his secretary, Helen Pitts, a white woman, causing controversy.

He held several public posts (and was proposed as vice-president in a joint-bill with a woman) including assistant secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission (1871), marshall of the District of Columbia (1877-1881) and U S Minister to Tahiti (1889-1891).  In 1881 he published The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

He died of heart failure in Washington on the 20th February, 1895. He has had bridges named after him, schools, stamps…

Frederick Douglass's gravestone

Frederick Douglass’s gravestone


The masthead of his newspaper The North Star once read:

Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color.

I will unite with any one to do right, and with no one to do wrong!

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.

A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.

The soul that is within me no man can degrade.

To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

Without a struggle, there can be no progress.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.

I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.

Link to quotes page (Brainy Quotes):

Brief visual summary of achievements

Brief visual summary of achievements

Wikipedia: (Includes a brief video of his biography):


His papers at the Library of Congress:

Spartacus school: (also brief video about Douglass):

Documenting the American South:

Digital History:

His page in Goodreads;

Links to works (FREE):

In Amazon:

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Collected Articles of Frederick Douglass

His page in Project Gutenberg, including audios:

Link to his autobiography in American History:

Thanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, don’t forget to like, comment, share, and CLIC!

25 c. postage stamp

25 c. postage stamp

Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I like to bring you guest authors. Recently I decided that I was not going to limit myself to bringing as guests only people I knew, or even…people who are still alive…One of the advantages of becoming a writer is that our books (one hopes!) will survive us. You’ll remember I brought you Herman Melville as guest. Today I want to bring you a woman, Louisa May Alcott. She’s also an American writer from a similar era to Melville, with the added difficulty of being a woman in what was a man’s world.

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888), American novelist, at age 20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louisa May was born the 29th November 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott (transcendentalist and educator) and Abigail (“Abba”) May. The family were in the centre of the transcendentalist movement and went to live in Concord where they were good friends with Emerson and Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne (good friend of Melville) was also a friend of the family.

Her family experimented with communal living (Fruitlands) but this failed and they returned to Concord.

Louisa May, like Jo in ‘Little Women‘ her best known book, wrote from an early age, had 3 sisters, (one who died of complications of scarlet fever), served as a nurse in Washington DC during the Civil War (she contracted typhoid fever and suffered complications ever since), and became a best-selling author, after writing a story for ‘girls’ at the suggestion of her publisher, Thomas Niles. ‘Little Women’ was an instant success and public and publisher asked for more.

She was also an abolitionist and feminist (she was the first woman registered to vote in Concord) , and worked hard to help support the family. She never married but when her sister May died she brought up her niece, Lulu.

She died two days after her father and is buried in Concord (Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, fabulous, don’t you think?)

English: Grave of American writer Louisa May A...

English: Grave of American writer Louisa May Alcott, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Mass. Taken on her birthday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here some links to more detailed information about Louisa May. You can also visit Orchard House, the family home Emerson bought for them.

One of her quotes:

Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn’t worth ruling.

Louisa May Alcott

I love ‘Little Women’ and the character of Jo has been one of my inspirations when thinking about writing. I’ve read the rest of the books in the series and I also loved An Old-fashioned Girl when I was younger although I haven’t read it for years. I very much suspect I’d still love it.

And one of the advantages of having as guest an author long gone (and much loved) is that some of her books (many) are available free. I leave you links to some of them, but as I say, there are many more. Some of her books didn’t see publication at the time as they were considered too ‘daring’ but I would have a look if I were you. And do enjoy!

Orchard House - Concord, Massachusetts. Former...

Orchard House – Concord, Massachusetts. Former home of Bronson Alcott and family, including his daughter Louisa May Alcott. Her novel “Little Women” was written in the house in 1868, and loosely based on both the house itself and her family. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Links to books:


Little Women:

Little Men:

An Old-Fashioned Girl:

Under the Lilacs:


Eight Cousins Or, the Aunt-Hill

Hospital Sketches:

Thank you for reading, don’t forget to CLICK!, it’s free, and remember, many other classic writers and free books are available. Don’t miss it. And if you like the post, please share!

I have written a few posts about two of my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret Musté, who fled Barcelona during the Civil War and went to France.
You’ll remember one of my cousins, Juan Molet, has been researching documentation regarding their lives (and deaths) but so far he had not been able to find confirmation that Conrado died.
Juan participated in a homage organised in honour of the Spaniards who fought with the French Resistance in Prayols last weekend. Here it was revealed that finally a document had been found confirming that he had died on the 27th February 1942. I attach the document that gives few details, other than there was a witness statement by one of the guardians of the prison (Rue la Santé 42) . It seems indeed he died under torture. Now, with this document, he finally has been given the status of having died for France.

I also attach copy of the picture they officials used to search for him. I find it quite haunting, but it might be the family thing.
Portrait à tirer MIRET

And here my cousin in front of the picture.


He mentions that he had a chance to talk to Ángel Álvarez, member of the Republican Army (Exercit Popular de la Republica), member of the Resistence in France, and the first Spaniard who managed to escape from the train taking him to Dachau. My cousin explains that his was a sad but illuminating story.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to meet my cousin when I visit Barcelona in September and I will bring back some more information and insights to share.
Thank you for reading and please share. And if you have any relevant stories or information, do let me know.

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