The Black Abolitionist & the Jack the Ripper Suspect
Frederick Douglass and Dr. Francis Tumblety -- could
there ever have been such two more different men?
The former Maryland slave who became
a voice for the progress of the black man
and the flamboyant Irish-American
quack doctor, purveyor of a pimple cure,
who was named in a letter by a former
Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard as
a "very likely" suspect for having been
Jack the Ripper.
The two divergent men met on a Liverpool street,
a year before the bloody crimes in London:
"I met a man in the street a day or two ago
-- who introduced himself to me as Dr. Tomblety [sic]....
He told me much about himself in a very brief space,
for he seemed to have more tongue than ears.
I could not get a word in anywhere and you know
I am too much in love with my own voice
to like being suppressed and overtalked in that way,
but enough of Dr. Tomblety.
He seemed a good fellow after all."*
* Letter from Frederick Douglass
to Amy Post, June 10, 1887.
By Christopher T. George