OTTILIA was wrong. Frederick Douglass was not to have a "beneficent influence," or any other kind, on Rutherford B. Hayes and his administration. And the stances on various issues that Douglass was to take between 1877 and 1881 were the least honorable and least helpful to his fellow former slaves of any in his long life. They were, in fact, entirely consonant with the betrayal of promises that ended Reconstruction.
The most positive thing that can be said about his service as marshal is that by occupying the post and distributing jobs, Douglass continued and strengthened the hold of black civil servants on minor government positions. These positions with the federal government were the comerstone of the staunchly middle-class black community in the capital. So firmly set was that stone, that the wiliest of twentieth-century segregationists could not dislodge it.
At the time Douglass was named marshal, however, the black community was dismayed that he did not get the whole of the job. Abraham Lincoln had made his close friend Ward Hill Lamon the marshal, and Ulysses Grant appointed his brother-in-law; during these administrations, the marshal attended formal receptions in the White House, stood next to the president, and presented each guest to him, by name. Douglass was excused from this chore, and not a black person in America, among those who cared about such things, was unaware that this duty had been eliminated to prevent too great a black presence in the Republican palace.
Douglass was exceedingly defensive about his failure to resign over this slight. Ponderously, he justified Hayes's decision in Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, and then observed, "I should have presented ... a most