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Document - James M. Trotter
Washington, D.C. 1887 - Printed document signed “James M. Trotter.” Single folio leaf folded to form four pages; notary blind-stamp; docketed, with several notations in Trotter’s hand and filled out by former Union General George W. Balloch, a notary public, who served as a trustee and treasurer of Howard University ---- Born a slave in grand Gulf, Mississippi, James Monroe Trotter (1842-1892) and his family were sent to Cincinnati, where he attended school and developed a passion for music. During the Civil War, Trotter enlisted as a private in the all-black 55th Massachusetts Regiment, sister regiment to Colonel Robert Gould Shaw’s 54th Massachusetts. Although initially the officers were white, Trotter rose rapidly through the ranks; by 1864 he was a second lieutenant. The War Department, however, was slow to recognize his field commission, and Trotter openly protested this discrimination. He also participated in the struggle for equal pay, in which African Americans insisted on the same recognition that their white counterparts received. Trotter and comrades held the principle of racial justice was important than immediate gratification: the two black Massachusetts regiments went without pay for a year before Congress approved equal compensation ---- After the war, Trotter moved to Boston and was appointed a clerk in the U. S. Post office. In 1878, he published “Music and Some Highly Musical People,” the first historical survey of black music by an African American, through which he aimed to correct “erroneous estimates of the art-capabilities of the colored race.” By the time Trotter was confirmed recorder of deeds nine years later, “Music and Some Highly Musical People” had sold 8,000 copies to become the most vendible history of black music in the United States. In 1887, President Grover Cleveland appointed Trotter recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia, the capacity by which he completed this land deed. (Frederick Douglass held the recorder position prior to Trotter, and another former slave, Senator Blanche K. Bruce, succeeded Trotter.) As a result of his lucrative recordership, Trotter was able to leave substantial property to his family. His son William Monroe absorbed James Trotter’s legacy of militancy and his commitment to integration and racial equality ----- Exceedingly rare signature of an African American Civil War officer and the second black recorder of deeds
      [Bookseller: North Star Rare Books & Manuscripts]
Last Found On: 2014-08-08           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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