25 Buffalo Street
NO SELF-RESPECTING reform movement is complete without a scandal. Frederick Douglass and Julia Griffiths, earnest and devoted, supplied that ingredient for the antislavery cause. Critics and even some admirers of the movement have been quick to describe the more fervent of the abolitionists as eccentric. And indeed, like Virginia Woolf, the Englishwoman seems to have had something in her dress and demeanor that caused people, for no apparent reason, to turn and stare as they passed her on the street. There was nothing eccentric about her companion, but Douglass was indisputably attractive. As the famous spiritualist medium Margaret Fox put it, "Frederick is as fine looking as Ever." Meaning no disrespect to her adopted town, she added, "I think he is the finest looking gentleman i have seen since I have been in Cincinnati." A lecture here by him, she reported to her friend Amy Post, "would set the people Crazy. "
But it was something far simpler in their appearance that set people talking about the two. He was black and she white. The Posts were among the few of their friends who resolutely chose to attribute no meaning to such a distinction, to make it not a fact. Indeed, the Posts' affection and respect for Douglass was unshakable, and yet even they found that mapping the contours of his friendship with Griffiths challenged their unorthodoxy. When Isaac Post walked into the Douglass house that first day, he found the Englishwoman hard to read. A father himself, he was not sure that the children, despite the presents, had "submitted with tolerable good grace" to the newcomer. But when their father came into the room and Julia explained her distribution, Frederick pronounced it