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AMERICA'S FIRST BLACK DIPLOMAT CAUTIONS FREDERICK DOUGLASS (DOUGLASS, FREDERICK.) BASSETT, E[BENEZER] DON CARLOS. Autograph Letter Signed to Frederick Douglass regarding his appointment as minister to Haiti. Large 4to sheet, folded to form four 8vo pages, written on three sides, matted and framed. New Haven, 10 October 1890
Ebenezer Bassett (1833-1908) was America''s first African-American diplomat. Appointed by U. S. Grant as minister to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1869, Bassett served in that post for eight years. From 1879 to 1888, he served as consul general to Haiti in New York. During this time, there was great upheaval in Haiti. Benjamin Harrison appointed Frederick to Bassett''s old post in 1889. In this letter, nearly a year later, Bassett alludes to some sort of scheme against Douglass: "Your letter of the 7th inst., which was received and read with profound interest, seems to me only to deepen the mystery which hangs over your unexpected detention in Washington." Douglass who had returned to the U.S. for a leave of absence in the summer of 1890, had been asked by Secretary of State Blaine to remain there. Bassett''s letter continues "there appears to be an impression that some sort of bait is to be held out to you or trap laid for you, by which you are to be let down easily and bowed out with beaming smiles and luring promises. You may remember my writing to you soon after our return home, of a scheme afoot in N.Y. to prevent your return. It came to me pretty straight that such a scheme had been seriously talked over in high quarters there." William McFeely, Douglass''s biographer notes: "Douglass had been caught between the secretary of state and the president over the course of empire."
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