Status: Complete

13 APRIL 1872 293

member of this Council by appointment of the President of the United
States.2 My seat is, therefore, now vacant.

In making this announcement, I take pleasure in assuring you, Mr.
President and members of the Council, of the pleasure I have experienced
in having a seat among you and associating with you, and the exceeding
regret I now have in leaving my place in this Council and in severing my
connection with it. I am fully conscious of the honor, dignity and impor-
tance of the trust, and my only regret is, that I am necessarily compelled to
take this step. Wherever my lot is cast, and wherever I may go, I shall
remember with pleasure my association with the members of this Council.

ON 13 APRIL 1872

New National Era, 2 May 1872. Other texts in New Orleans Bee, 14 April 1872; New
Orleans Republican, 14 April 1872.

On 13 April 1872 Douglass delivered the principal address on the fourth day
of the first National Convention of the Colored People at the Mechanics
Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana. Called by Alonzo J. Ransier, lieutenant
governor of South Carolina, “to consider the political and material interests”
of blacks, the convention held its first meeting on 10 April 1872, when it
elected the delegate from the District of Columbia, Douglass, president. Until
Douglass’s arrival, P. B. S. Pinchback, lieutenant governor of Louisiana,

the president, and a House of Delegates to which local voters annually elected twenty-two residents.
When the assembly first met on 15 May 1871, it clearly favored an extensive and expensive improve-
ment of the city‘s streets, buildings, and sanitary conditions. Under the aggressive leadership of the
public works director, Alexander Shepherd, the territorial government immediately began this work
and continued it for the next three years. Although the government made much progress in this effort,
Congress nevertheless abolished the whole territorial arrangement on 20 June 1874 amid widespread
accusations of financial corruption, especially against Shepherd, and replaced it with a government of
three commissioners. Edwin Melvin Williams, “The Territorial Period—1871—l874," revised by
William Tindall, in John Clagett Proctor, ed. , Washington Past and Present: A History, 2 vols. (New
York, 1930), l : 130-41; Whyte, Uncivil War, 101.

2. In letters to President Grant and Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, both dated 6 June 1871,
Douglass resigned his seat in the upper council of the District of Columbia Legislative Assembly
effective ten days later. Douglass to US. Grant, 6 June 1871, Douglass to Hamilton Fish, 5 June, 1871,
DNA; Hamilton Fish to Douglass, 17 June 1871, General Correspondence File, reel 2, frame 595, FD
Papers, DLC.

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