Grover Cleveland Gets Lost in 19th Century Anacostia

This is a guest post by John (from The Lion of Anacostia), cross-posted here.

Col. Daniel S. Lamont, got lost in 19th century Anacostia.
Col. Daniel S. Lamont, got lost in 19th century Anacostia.

While trying to confirm President Hayes visited Douglass at Cedar Hill, I came across this news item telling of President Grover Cleveland (the 22nd and, later, the 24th President) and his trusted friend Daniel S. Lamont getting, what appears to be, lost in 19th century Anacostia, lost on the Southside.

In Life and Times Douglass lauds Cleveland, a Democrat and former NY Governor. Cleveland, first elected in 1884 after defeating former Speaker of the House James Blaine, kept Douglass in his position as Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia for a year into his administration. Elected on a reformist platform with the 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act still in implementation, upon taking office Cleveland announced that no political appointee would lose their job solely on political reasons, competency was the criteria. With that Douglass was apparently qualified to serve, albeit on a low level, in his Democratic administration.

Below is the article in the Washington Post from August 13th, 1886.

The President’s Visit to Mr. Fred Douglass.

The President once visited the home of Fred Douglass in a very informal and unexpected way. He was out driving one afternoon with Col. Lamont and instead of going in a northwest direction drover over the Eastern Branch into the little village of Anacostia. After making a few circuits of the roads, Albert, who was on the box, turned into a side road for the purpose of making a short cut. Presently he pulled up before a modest country house, where the road ended. He had lost his way.

“Who lives here?” said Col, Lamont, as he leaned over the side of the carriage and addressed a little boy who was gazing in wonder at the handsome equipage which had so suddenly appeared.

“Mr. Fred Douglass,” was the reply.

The President looked around him and smiled. “Drive on,” he said to the coachman, and a moment later the carriage was rumbling down the hill.

Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland

About John M.

John Muller is a local journalist and historian. His first book, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC: The Lion of Anacostia, was published by The History Press last year. John is now at work on Mark Twain in Washington, DC.

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