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Frederick Douglass (and the Garfield Grave Robbers)

Now on Spotify!

Several years back, I took a trip to Cleveland just to see the tomb of President Garfield after hearing a news story that someone had broken into the crypt and stolen several commemorative spoons. This, I had to see for myself!

It’s a fantastic tomb, with a tower you can climb, and relief sculptures all around, including one of Garfield on his deathbed, surrounded by doctors getting ready to poke him in the liver!

In the course of setting up the episode, I noticed that Garfield appointed Frederick Douglass as the Recorder of Deeds for Washington D.C., and walked with him during his inauguration as president. Our musical guest today, Silas Reed, had suggested a song about Douglass, so it seemed like a perfect fit! ┬áIn research, I found some fascinating accounts of Douglass nearly starting a riot aboard a ship in 1845, the story of which we’ll examine in the episode – as well as solving the mystery of the spoon theft!


The song for today, “1845 Riot Vibe,” is by Silas Reed, whom I met in Chicago at a songwriters’ night that I attend regularly. Check out his soundcloud!







The episode features the voice talents of John Piotrowski, Kitten McCreery, David Johnston, and Silas Reed. Photo of Douglass’ grave by Katie Barnes.