When Free Speech isn’t Free

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It almost cost Frederick Douglass his home to publish his newspaper in the Talman Building in Rochester, pictured here; and Harriet Jacobs, who operated a reading room with her brother one floor up, couldn’t make her rent, either.

Later, Susan B. Anthony’s publishing ventures racked up six years of crushing debt. People who write and publish, including yours truly, usually do so out of a true passion that defies budgets. If you enjoy this blog, please “like” and “share” it to keep it going, and get your very own copy of The Truth About Daniel to savor.

As we near the end of Black History Month, consider these stairs where Frederick Douglass’ son said fugitives often awaited his father when the abolitionist came into work at the Talman Building in the morning.

Please note on the outside of the building the stone letters above the second floor that say “PRINTING.” Rose O’Keefe’s book on Douglass stated that the North Star publisher confessed that the printing equipment he purchased cost too much, making his paper unprofitable. As he began to book more lucrative speaking engagements, he gave the daily management of the paper over to friends, who separated his business finances from those of his family and saved the family’s home. One has to wonder whether the new managers engaged the services of another press in the Talman Building, thus helping to put their newspaper in the black again.
This photo of a wall in the basement near the stairs gives a feel for the age of the building.

 

 

 

Exterior photo courtesy of the Democrat & Chronicle, ca 1870 (after A.C. Wilder purchased the building). Interior images by Jeanne Gehret

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