Ebonized wood walking cane with gold-filled cap and brass ferrule presented to Frederick Douglass. Cap engraved: "Hon. F. Douglass / From D.L.I. / Charleston S.C. / Mar. 6th / 1888." Repousse design of three wild strawberries with distinctive leaves and five-petaled flower against a hammered background. Stamped to collar "R.F.S. & Co.," hallmark of Robert Fitz Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Length: 34.5 in. Cap circumference.: 3.5 in.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was the most famous African American abolitionist and orator of the 19th century. During the last decade of his life, he traveled frequently to give speeches all across the country. In early 1888, Douglass embarked on a speaking tour of South Carolina and Georgia, a journey not without peril. In early March 1888, Douglass arrived in Charleston, South Carolina where he delivered versions of his "Self-Made Men" and "European Travels" addresses at Mount Zion church, founded in 1883 and considered a "daughter church" of Mother Emanuel AME, the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the southern United States. He was honored afterward by an African American militia unit calling themselves the Douglass Light Infantry. According to a contemporaneous newspaper account, the infantry members serenaded him at their armory. They also presented him with this walking stick, decorated on the collar with strawberries, symbolizing righteousness and spiritual merit in Christian art.
Some dents and wear to cap. General wear to stick. Lacking heel.
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