Table of Contents
Front Matter Page NA
Title Page and Credits Page NA
Contents Page NA
Introduction Page xi
Preface Page xvii
Part One: From 1841 to the Founding of the North Star Page NA
Introduction Page 3
The Church and Prejudice Page 3
Letter to William Lloyd Garrison Page 4
The Folly of Our Opponents Page 8
My Slave Expierence in Maryland Page 10
Letter to William Lloyd Garrison Page 14
Letter to Francis Jackson Page 24
Letter to Horace Greeley Page 27
An Appeal to the British People Page 30
Letter to Samuel Hanson Cox, D.D. Page 40
Letter to Henry C. Wright Page 49
Farewell Speech to the British People Page 54
The Right to Criticize American Institutions Page 75
Letter to Thomas Van Rensselaer Page 83
Bibles for the Slaves Page 86
Part Two: From the Founding of the North Star to the Compromise of 1850 Page [89]
Letter to Henry Clay Page 91
What of the Night? Page 97
Prejudice against Color Page 99
The Rights of Women Page 101
The Revolution of 1848 Page 103
Letter to Thomas Auld Page 111
An Address to the Colored People of the United States Page 117
The Blood of the Slave on the Skirts of the Northern People Page 122
Colonization Page 125
The Constitution and Slavery Page 127
The Constitution and Slavery Page 129
Letter to M. G. Warner, Esq. Page 134
Comments on Gerrit Smith's Address Page 137
Colorphobia in New York! Page 141
Letter to Capt. Thomas Auld Page 143
Government and Its Subjects Page 146
The Destiny of Colored Americans Page 148
Part Three: From the Compromise of 1850 to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 Page [151]
Henry Clay and Slavery Page 153
At Home Again Page 156
A Letter to the American Slaves from Those Who Have Fled from American Slavery Page 158
Lecture on Slavery, No. 1 Page 163
Letter to Gerrit Smith, Esqr. Page 170
Change of Opinion Announced Page 173
Letter to Gerrit Smith, Esqr. Page 174
The Free Negro's Place is in America Page 176
Freedom's Battle at Christiana Page 178
On Being Considered for the Legislature Page 183
Extract from a Speech at Providence, Nov. 6. Phonographic Report by J. L. Crosby. Page 184
Hon. Horace Greeley and the People of Color Page 185
Horace Greeley and Colonization Page 187
The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro Page 188
The Fugitive Slave Law Page 206
Letter to Gerrit Smith, Esqr. Page 210
A Call to Work Page 211
Letter to Harriet Stowe Page 213
The Heroic Slave Page 219
The Black Swan, Alias Miss Elizabeth Greenfield Page 247
The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin Page 248
The Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Negro People Page 250
The Claims of Our Common Cause Page 260
A Terror to Kidnappers Page 271
Part Four: From the Kansas-Nebraska Act to the Election of Abraham Lincoln Page [273]
The Word White. Page 275
The End of All Compromises with Slavery — Now and Forever Page 275
Is It Right and Wise to Kill a Kidnapper? Page 277
Anthony Burns Returned to Slavery Page 281
The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered Page 282
The Kansas-Nebraska Bill Page 298
The Anti-Slavery Movement Page 311
Letter to Hon. Chas. Sumner Page 332
The True Ground upon Which to Meet Slavery Page 333
The Final Struggle Page 335
Letter to Gerrit Smith Page 336
Fremont and Dayton Page 338
The Do-Nothing Policy Page 342
Peaceful Annihilation of Slavery Is Hopeless Page 344
The Dred Scott Decision, Page 344
West India Emancipation Page 358
Resolutions Proposed for Anti-Capital Punishment Page 369
Capt. John Brown Not Insane Page 372
Letter to the Rochester Democrat and American Page 376
Letter to Helen Boucaster Page 379
The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or AntiSlavery? Page 379
To My British Anti-Slavery Friends Page 390
The Chicago Nominations Page 392
Letter to James Redpath, Esq. Page 396
Letter to William Still Page 397
The Prospect in the Future Page 398
The Presidential Compaign of 1860 Page 401
The Late Election Page 413
Speech on John Brown Page 417
Part Five: From Secession to the Emancipation Proclamation Page [423]
Dissolution of the American Union Page 425
The Union and How to save It Page 429
The Inaugural Address Page 432
A Trip to Haiti Page 439
The Fall of Sumter Page 442
Sudden Revolution in Northern Sentiment Page 445
How to End the War Page 447
Nemesis Page 450
The past and the Present Page 451
Notes on the War Page 454
The Decision of the Hour Page 458
The War and Slavery Page 463
The Rebels, the Government, and the Difference between Them Page 468
Letter to Rev. Samuel J. May Page 469
What Shall Be Done with the Slaves If Emancipated? Page 470
The Future of the Negro People of the Slave States Page 474
The War and How to End It Page 486
Letter to Hon. Charles Sumner Page 493
The Slaveholders' Rebellion Page 494
Letter to Gerrit Smith Page 509
The President and His Speeches Page 510
Part Six: From the Emancipation Proclamation to the Eve of Appomattox Page [515]
Emancipation Proclaimed Page 517
The Work of the Future Page 521
A Day for Poetry and Song, remarks at Zion Church, December 28, 1862 Page 523
Men of Color, to Arms Page 525
Why Should a Colored Man Enlist? Page 528
Another Word to Colored Men Page 531
Address for the Promotion of Colored Enlistments Page 533
Letter to Major G. L. Stearns Page 538
The Commander-in-Chief and His Black Soldiers Page 540
Valedictory Page 543
Our Work Is Not Done Page 546
The Mission of the War Page 553
Letter to an English Correspondent Page 567
Letter to William Lloyd Garrison, Esq. Page 569
Letter to Theodore Tilton Page 570
Part Seven: Reconstruction, 1865 — 1876 Page [575]
The Need for Continuing Anti-Slavery Work Page 577
The Douglass Institute Page 580
Reply of the Colored Delegation to the President Page 586
The Future of the Colored Race Page 590
Reconstruction Page 592
Letter to Theodore Tilton Page 597
Letter to Josephine Sophie White Griffing Page 598
Letter to Harriet Tubman Page 600
Salutatory Page 601
Seeming and Real Page 606
Letter to A. M. Powell, Esq. Page 608
The Unknown Loyal Dead, Page 609
Letter from the Editor Page 610
Give Us the Freedom Intended for us Page 612
Letter to Hon. Gerrit Smith Page 614
Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln Page 615
Part Eight: The Post-Reconstruction Era, 1877 — 1895 Page [625]
There Was a Right Side in the Late War Page 627
John Brown Page 633
The Color Line Page 648
The United States Cannot Remain Half-Slave and Half-Free, Page 656
Address to the People of the United States. Page 669
The Civil Rights Case Page 685
Letter to Elizabeth Cady Stanton Page 693
Letter to Francis J. Grimke Page 695
Southern Barbarism Page 696
Letter to W. H. Thomas Page 705
The Woman's Suffrage Movement Page 706
I Denounce the So-Called Emancipation as a Stupendous Fraud Page 711
The Bloody Shirt Page 724
The Nation's Problem Page 725
Introduction to the Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World's Columbian Exposition Page 740
Lynch Law in the South Page 746
Why Is the Negro Lynched? Page 750

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Front Matter
Title Page and Credits
Frederick Douglass

SELECTED SPEECHES AND WRITINGS

EDITED BY Philip S. Foner

ABRIDGED AND ADAPTED BY Yuval Taylor

Lawrence Hill Books


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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Douglass, Frederick, 1817? -- 1895. Selections. 1999.

Frederick Douglass: selected speeches and writings / edited by Philip S. Foner / abridged and adapted by Yuval Taylor.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 1 -- 55652 -- 349-1 (cloth). -- ISBN 1 -- 55652 -- 352-1 (paper)

1. Antislavery movements -- United States -- History -- 19th century. 2. Slaves -- United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century. 3. Afro-Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 19th century. 4. Speeches, addresses, etc., American. I. Foner, Philip Sheldon, 1910 -- 1994. II. Taylor, Yuval. III. Title.

E449.D7345 1999

973.8'092 -- dc21

99 -- 23180

CIP

This book is an abridgement and adaptation of Philip S. Foner's The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, originally published in New York in five volumes, 1950 -- 1975. It is published by arrangement with Elizabeth Foner Vandepaer and Laura Foner.

Copyright © 1950, 1952, 1955, 1975, International Publishers

This edition copyright © 1999 Estate of Philip S. Foner and Yuval Taylor

All rights reserved

First edition

Published by Lawrence Hill Books

An imprint of Chicago Review Press, Incorporated

814 North Franklin Street

Chicago, Illinois 60610

ISBN 1 -- 55652 -- 349-1 (cloth)

1 -- 55652 -- 352-1 (paper)

Printed in the United States of America

54321


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Contents
INTRODUCTION by Yuval Taylor xi
PREFACE by Philip S. Foner xvii
Part One: From 1841 to the Founding of The North Star 1
The Church and Prejudice, speech delivered at the Plymouth Church Anti-Slavery Society, December 23, 1841 3
To William Lloyd Garrison, November 8, 1842 4
The Folly of Our Opponents, The Liberty Bell, 1845 8
My Slave Experience in Maryland, speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 6, 1845 10
To William Lloyd Garrison, September 1, 1845 14
To William Lloyd Garrison, January 1, 1846 17
To William Lloyd Garrison, January 27, 1846 20
To Francis Jackson, January 29, 1846 24
To Horace Greeley, April 15, 1846 27
An Appeal to the British People, reception speech at Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England, May 12, 1846 30
To Samuel Hanson Cox, D.D., October 30, 1846 40
To Henry C. Wright, December 22, 1846 49
Farewell Speech to the British People, at London Tavern, London, England, March 30, 1847 54
The Right to Criticize American Institutions, speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 11, 1847 75
To Thomas Van Rensselaer, May 18, 1847 83
Bibles for the Slaves, The Liberty Bell, June, 1847 86
Part Two: From the Founding of The North Star to the Compromise of 1850 89
To Henry Clay, The North Star, December 3, 1847 91
What of the Night? The North Star, May 5, 1848 97
"Prejudice Against Color," The North Star, May 5, 1848 99
The Rights of Women, The North Star, July 28, 1848 101
The Revolution of 1848, speech at West India Emancipation Celebration, Rochester, New York, August 1, 1848 103
To Thomas Auld, September 3, 1848 111


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An Address to the Colored People of the United States, The North Star, September 29, 1848
117
The Blood of the Slave on the Skirts of the Northern People, The North Star, November 17, 1848 122
Colonization, The North Star, January 26, 1849 125
The Constitution and Slavery, The North Star, February 9, 1849 127
The Constitution and Slavery, The North Star, March 16, 1849 129
To H. G. Warner, Esq., The North Star, March 30, 1849 134
Comments on Gerrit Smith's Address, The North Star, March 30, 1849 137
Colorphobia in New York! The North Star, May 25, 1849 141
To Capt. Thomas Auld, Formerly My Master, September 3, 1849 143
Government and Its Subjects, The North Star, November 9, 1849 146
The Destiny of Colored Americans, The North Star, November 16, 1849 148
Part Three: From the Compromise of 1850 to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 151
Henry Clay and Slavery, The North Star, February 8, 1850 153
At Home Again, The North Star, May 30, 1850 156
A Letter to the American Slaves, The North Star, September 5, 1850 158
Lecture on Slavery, No. 1, delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, December 1, 1850 163
To Gerrit Smith, Esqr., January 21, 1851 170
Change of Opinion Announced, The Liberator, May 23, 1851 173
To Gerrit Smith, Esqr., May 21, 1851 174
The Free Negro's Place Is in America, speech delivered at National Convention of Liberty Party, Buffalo, New York, September 18, 1851 176
Freedom's Battle at Christiana, Frederick Douglass' Paper, September 25, 1851 178
On Being Considered for the Legislature, Frederick Douglass' Paper, October 30, 1851 183
Extract from a Speech at Providence, Frederick Douglass' Paper, December 11, 1851 184
Hon. Horace Greeley and the People of Color, Frederick Douglass' Paper, January 29, 1852 185


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Horace Greeley and Colonization, Frederick Douglass' Paper, February 26, 1852
187
The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro, speech at Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852 188
The Fugitive Slave Law, speech to the National Free Soil Convention at Pittsburgh, August 11, 1852 206
To Gerrit Smith, Esqr., November 6, 1852 210
A Call to Work, Frederick Douglass' Paper, November 19, 1852 211
To Harriet Beecher Stowe, March 8, 1853 213
The Heroic Slave, Autographs for Freedom, 1853 219
The Black Swan, Alias Miss Elizabeth Greenfield, Frederick Douglass' Paper, April 8, 1853 247
The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, Frederick Douglass' Paper, April 29, 1853 248
The Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Negro People, speech at annual meeting of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, New York City, May 11, 1853 250
The Claims of Our Common Cause, address of the Colored Convention held in Rochester, July 6 -- 8, 1853, to the People of the United States 260
A Terror to Kidnappers, Frederick Douglass' Paper, November 25, 1853 271
Part Four: From the Kansas-Nebraska Act to the Election of Abraham Lincoln 273
The Word "White," Frederick Douglass' Paper, March 17, 1854 275
The End of All Compromises with Slavery -- Now and Forever, Frederick Douglass' Paper, May 26, 1854 275
Is It Right and Wise to Kill a Kidnapper? Frederick Douglass' Paper, June 2, 1854 277
Anthony Burns Returned to Slavery, Frederick Douglass' Paper, June 9, 1854 281
The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered, address delivered at Western Reserve College, July 12, 1854 282
The Kansas-Nebraska Bill, speech at Chicago, October 30, 1854 298
The Anti-Slavery Movement, lecture delivered before the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, March 19, 1855 311
To Hon. Chas. Sumner, April 24, 1855 332
The True Ground upon Which to Meet Slavery, Frederick Douglass' Paper, August 24, 1855 333
The Final Struggle, Frederick Douglass' Paper, November 16, 1855 335


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To Gerrit Smith, May 23, 1856
336
Fremont and Dayton, Frederick Douglass' Paper, August 15, 1856 338
The Do-Nothing Policy, Frederick Douglass' Paper, September 12, 1856 342
Peaceful Annihilation of Slavery Is Hopeless, quoted by William Chambers, American Slavery and Colour, New York, 1857 344
The Dred Scott Decision, speech delivered before American Anti-Slavery Society, New York, May 14, 1857 344
West India Emancipation, speech delivered at Canandaigua, New York, August 3, 1857 358
Resolutions Proposed for Anti-Capital Punishment Meeting, Rochester, New York, October 7, 1858 369
Capt. John Brown Not Insane, Douglass' Monthly, November, 1859 372
To the Rochester Democrat and American, October 31, 1859 376
To Helen Boucaster, December 7, 1859 379
The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? speech delivered in Glasgow, Scotland, March 26, 1860 379
To My British Anti-Slavery Friends, May 26, 1860 390
The Chicago Nominations, Douglass' Monthly, June, 1860 392
To James Redpath, Esq., June 29, 1860 396
To William Still, July 2, 1860 397
The Prospect in the Future, Douglass' Monthly, August, 1860 398
The Presidential Campaign of 1860, speech at celebration of West India Emancipation, August 1, 1860 401
The Late Election, Douglass' Monthly, December, 1860 413
Speech on John Brown, delivered in Tremont Temple, Boston, December 3, 1860 417
Part Five: From Secession to the Emancipation Proclamation 423
Dissolution of the American Union, Douglass' Monthly, January, 1861 425
The Union and How to Save It, Douglass' Monthly, February, 1861 429
The Inaugural Address, Douglass' Monthly, April, 1861 432
A Trip to Haiti, Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861 439
The Fall of Sumter, Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861 442
Sudden Revolution in Northern Sentiment, Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861 445
How to End the War, Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861 447
Nemesis, Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861 450
The Past and the Present, Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861 451


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Notes on the War, Douglass' Monthly, July, 1861
454
The Decision of the Hour, substance of a lecture delivered at Zion Church, Sunday, June 16, 1861 458
The War and Slavery, Douglass' Monthly, August, 1861 463
The Rebels, the Government, and the Difference Between Them, Douglass' Monthly, August, 1861 468
To Rev. Samuel J. May, August 30, 1861 469
What Shall Be Done with the Slaves If Emancipated? Douglass' Monthly, January, 1862 470
The Future of the Negro People of the Slave States, speech delivered before the Emancipation League in Tremont Temple, Boston, February 5, 1862 474
The War and How to End It, speech delivered at Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, March 25, 1862 486
To Hon. Charles Sumner, April 8, 1862 493
The Slaveholders' Rebellion, speech delivered on the 4th day of July, 1862, at Himrods Corners, Yates Co., New York 494
To Gerrit Smith, September 8, 1862 509
The President and His Speeches, Douglass' Monthly, September, 1862 510
Part Six: From the Emancipation Proclamation to the Eve of Appomattox 515
Emancipation Proclaimed, Douglass' Monthly, October, 1862 517
The Work of the Future, Douglass' Monthly, November, 1862 521
A Day for Poetry and Song, remarks at Zion Church, December 28, 1862 523
"Men of Color, to Arms!" March 21, 1863 525
Why Should a Colored Man Enlist? Douglass' Monthly, April, 1863 528
Another Word to Colored Men, Douglass' Monthly, April, 1863 531
Address for the Promotion of Colored Enlistments, delivered at a mass meeting in Philadelphia, July 6, 1863 534
To Major G. L. Stearns, August 1, 1863 538
The Commander-in-Chief and His Black Soldiers, Douglass' Monthly, August, 1863 540
Valedictory, Douglass' Monthly, August, 1863 543
Our Work Is Not Done, speech delivered at the annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society held at Philadelphia, December 3 -- 4, 1863 546
The Mission of the War, address sponsored by Women's Loyal League and delivered in Cooper Institute, New York City, January 13, 1864 553
To an English Correspondent, [June, 1864] 567
To William Lloyd Garrison, Esq., September 17, 1864 569
To Theodore Tilton, October 15, 1864 570


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Part Seven: Reconstruction, 1865 -- 1876 575
The Need for Continuing Anti-Slavery Work, speech at Thirty-Second Annual Meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 10, 1865 577
The Douglass Institute, lecture at Inauguration of Douglass Institute, Baltimore, September 29, 1865 580
Reply of the Colored Delegation to the President, February 7, 1866 586
The Future of the Colored Race, The North American Review, May, 1866 590
Reconstruction, Atlantic Monthly, December, 1866 592
To Theodore Tilton, [September, 1867] 598
To Josephine Sophie White Griffing, September 27, 1868 598
To Harriet Tubman, September 29, 1868 600
Salutatory, The New National Era, September 8, 1870 601
Seeming and Real, The New National Era, October 6, 1870 606
To A. M. Powell, Esq., October 7, 1870 608
The Unknown Loyal Dead, speech delivered at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1871 609
Letter from the Editor, The New National Era, June 13, 1872 610
Give Us the Freedom Intended for Us, The New National Era, December 5, 1872 612
To Hon. Gerrit Smith, September 25, 1873 614
Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln, delivered at the unveiling of the Freedmen's Monument in Memory of Abraham Lincoln, in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., April 14, 1876 615
Part Eight: The Post-Reconstruction Era, 1877 -- 1895 625
There Was a Right Side in the Late War, speech delivered at Union Square, New York City, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1878 627
John Brown, speech delivered at Storer College, Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, May 30, 1881 633
The Color Line, The North American Review, June, 1881 648
The United States Cannot Remain Half-Slave and Half-Free, speech on the occasion of the Twenty-First Anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, April 16, 1883 656
Address to the People of the United States, delivered at a Convention of Colored Men, Louisville, Kentucky, September 25, 1883 669
The Civil Rights Case, speech at the Civil Rights Mass-Meeting held at Lincoln Hall, Washington, D.C., October 22, 1883 685


-- ix --
To Elizabeth Cady Stanton, May 30, 1884
693
To Francis J. Grimké, January 19, 1886 695
Southern Barbarism, speech on the occasion of the Twenty-Fourth Anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1886 696
To W. H. Thomas, July 16, 1886 705
The Woman's Suffrage Movement, address before International Council of Women, Washington, D.C., March 31, 1888 706
I Denounce the So-Called Emancipation as a Stupendous Fraud, speech on the occasion of the Twenty-Sixth Anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1888 711
The Bloody Shirt, speech delivered at the National Republican Convention, Chicago, June 19, 1888 724
The Nation's Problem, speech delivered before the Bethel Literary and Historical Society, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1889 725
Introduction to The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World's Columbia Exposition, 1892 740
Lynch Law in the South, The North American Review, July, 1892 746
Why Is the Negro Lynched? The Lesson of the Hour, 1894 750
INDEX 777

-- xi --

Introduction
In a fifty-four-year career as the preeminent spokesman for African Americans, Frederick Douglass gave over 2,000 speeches; wrote thousands of editorials, articles, and letters; and, not incidentally, published three autobiographies, the first two of which are now commonly acknowledged as masterpieces transcending their genre. Although most students of African American history and literature study the latter, during his life Douglass was mainly known as an orator, not an autobiographer; and it was through his speeches and writings that Douglass changed American history. For, more than any other African American, it was he who was responsible for the downfall of slavery, for the enlistment of men of his race in the Union army, and, in the last few years of his life, for the awakening of the American people to the realization that, through disenfranchisement, slavery-like practices, and wholesale slaughter, Southern blacks had lost almost every gain they had made during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The power of oratory in the formation of public opinion in nineteenth-century America was as great as that of television today, for political culture had inherited from the Revolutionary period a classical, oratorical, consensus-based model. With his combination of rhetorical power, intellectual acumen, classical eloquence, and physical presence, Douglass may well rank as the greatest American orator of his time. The testimony of his contemporaries helps explain why. Only four months after his first speech at a Nantucket anti-slavery meeting in 1841, N. P. Rogers, a New Hampshire editor, wrote:

As a speaker he has few equals. It is not declamation -- but oratory, power of debate. He watches the tide of discussion with the eye of the veteran, and dashes into it at once with all the tact of the forum or the bar. He has wit, argument, sarcasm, pathos -- all that first-rate men show in their master efforts. His voice is highly melodious and rich, and his enunciation quite elegant, and yet he has been but two or three years out of the house of bondage.... The brotherhood of thieves, the posse comitatus of divines, we wish a hecatomb or two of the proudest and flintiest of them, were obliged to hear him thunder for human liberty, and lay the enslavement of his people at their doors. They would tremble like Belshazzar.

And in 1852, William G. Allen, a professor of rhetoric and belles lettres, wrote:

In versatility of oratorical power, I know of no one who can begin to approach the celebrated Frederick Douglass. He, in very deed, sways a magic wand. In the ability to imitate, he stands almost alone and unapproachable; and there is no actor living, whether he be tragedian or comedian, who would not give the world for such a face as his. His slaveholder's sermon is a masterpiece in its line [see the first speech in this collection, "The Church and Prejudice"]. When he rises to speak there is a slight hesitancy in his manner, which disappears as he warms up to the subject. He works with the power of a mighty intellect, and in the vast audiences which he never fails to assemble, touches chords in the inner chambers thereof which vibrate music now sweet,


-- xii --
now sad, now lightsome, now solemn, now startling, now grand, now majestic, now sublime. He has a voice of terrific power, of great compass, and under most admirable control. Douglass is not only great in oratory, tongue-wise, but, considering his circumstances in early life, still more marvelous in composition, pen-wise.... Long may he live -- an honor to his age, his race, his country and the world.

Douglass clearly drew from African American rhetorical traditions -- story-telling, trickster tales, black preaching, and "signifying." But his speeches and writings for the most part confirm, rather than challenge, the American rhetorical practice of his time. For example, his apocalyptic visions of America's future were usually counterbalanced by an offer of hope that the true American values embodied in the Declaration of Independence could be sustained. Douglass' mixture of doomsaying with affirmation of America's potential for greatness fits well into a long tradition of American jeremiads stretching from the seventeenth century to the present day. Also typical were his rhetorical crescendoes from a plain style at the beginning of a speech to a grand style at the end; his skillful deployment of a host of rhetorical devices such as anaphora, personification, wordplay, antithesis, and hyperbole; his citations from the Bible, Shakespeare, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers; his extended use of irony and sarcasm when denouncing wrongdoing; and, as the century progressed, his increasing reliance on documentation to verify his points.

However fully Douglass fit into the American rhetorical tradition, though, his race -- at least at first -- effectively excluded him from it. At the time of his entry into the field of oratory, African Americans were almost universally regarded as culturally inferior, and a black orator would far sooner be judged an oddity than a leader. What enabled Douglass to overcome this handicap and break down these prejudices -- and what helped distinguish him from contemporaneous orators such as Wendell Phillips, Edward Everett, and Ralph Waldo Emerson -- was not only his remarkable rhetorical skill, but his inventiveness, militancy, breadth of knowledge, sense of humor, skill at mimicry, vivid language, and emotional investment in every word he spoke. Considering that the vast majority of his arguments concern only one broad topic -- the conditions and rights of African Americans -- the variety of his approaches and ideas is all the more astonishing. But Douglass did not like to repeat himself. He makes this clear in his account of his growth as an orator in his second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom:

During the first three or four months, my speeches were almost exclusively made up of narrations of my own personal experience as a slave. "Let us have the facts," said the people. So also said Friend George Foster, who always wished to pin me down to my simple narrative. "Give us the facts," said Collins, "we will take care of the philosophy." Just here arose some embarrassment. It was impossible for me to repeat the same old story month after month, and to keep up my interest in it. It was new to the people, it is true, but it was an old story to me; and to go through with it night after night, was a task altogether too mechanical for my nature. "Tell your story, Frederick," would whisper my then revered friend, William Lloyd Garrison, as I stepped upon the platform. I could not always obey, for I was now reading and thinking. New views of the subject were presented to my mind. It did not entirely satisfy


-- xiii --
me to narrate wrongs; I felt like denouncing them. I could not always curb my moral indignation for the perpetrators of slaveholding villainy, long enough for a circumstantial statement of the facts which I felt almost everybody must know. Besides, I was growing, and needed room. "People won't believe you ever was a slave, Frederick, if you keep on this way," said Friend Foster. "Be yourself," said Collins, "and tell your story." It was said to me, "Better have a little of the plantation manner of speech than not; 'tis not best that you seem too learned." These excellent friends were actuated by the best of motives, and were not altogether wrong in their advice; and still I must speak just the word that seemed to me the word to be spoken by me.

In his first autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Douglass transformed his "story" into the story of all slaves by making himself their exemplar; similarly, in his speeches and writings, he transformed his concern for his race into a concern for all America by making the "Negro question" an "American question." In doing so -- and because he never gave up hope, no matter how dire the outlook -- Frederick Douglass was perhaps the most significant motivator of America's long (and as yet unfinished) transformation from a land of oppression into the land of the free.

The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, edited by Philip S. Foner -- the primary source for the present collection -- was originally published in four volumes between 1950 and 1955; a fifth volume supplementing the first two was published in 1975, and a sixth supplementing volumes three and four was at least partially prepared but never published. The published volumes included approximately 2,000 pages of material written by Douglass as well as a 400-page biography of Douglass written by Foner.

Philip S. Foner (1910 -- 1994) was one of the outstanding historians and editors of our time. His over 100 books include The History of the Labor Movement in the United States (ten volumes, 1947 -- 1994), A History of Cuba and Its Relations with the United States (two volumes, 1962 -- 1963), The Voice of Black America: Major Speeches by Negroes in the United States (1972), Organized Labor and the Black Worker (1974), The History of Black Americans (three volumes, 1975 -- 1983), The Black Worker: A Documentary History (eight volumes, 1978 -- 1984), and collections of writings and speeches by Thomas Paine, W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, George Washington Woodbey, the Black Panthers, Carl Liebknecht, Clara Zetkin, José Martí, and many others.

When The Life and Writings was first published, Frederick Douglass was a nearly forgotten figure in American history. As Foner pointed out, in John B. McMaster's ten-volume History of the People of the United States (1883 -- 1919), Douglass was referred to only once, and was not even mentioned in Dwight L. Dumond's Anti-Slavery Origins of the Civil War (1939). Foner apparently had difficulty finding a publisher, for he later wrote:

No commercial publisher or even university press displayed the slightest interest in making available the letters, editorials, and speeches of this man of towering dimensions.


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(Indeed, the vast majority of the editors in these publishing houses had never even heard of Frederick Douglass.) The miracle was that even though harassed and financially hard-pressed during these years of McCarthyism -- Alexander Trachtenberg, the publisher, even went to prison under the viciously un-American Smith Act -- International Publishers undertook the expensive task of publishing the four volumes.

Doubtless it is not entirely coincidental that shortly after the publication of Foner's four volumes, Douglass began to gain widespread acceptance as the outstanding African American of the nineteenth century, for the books garnered overwhelming praise from prominent intellectuals:

The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass puts all America under deep obligation. ... The figure of a great man rises from these volumes (W. E. B. DuBois).

Dr. Foner has made an outstanding contribution to the social history of the Negro in the United States (E. Franklin Frazier).

Dr. Foner's work, evident outcome of great labor and love, is a monumental piece of historical scholarship, contributing as much to vital aspects of American history as to the documentary portraiture of the nineteenth century's greatest American Negro (Alain Locke).

A veritable treasurehouse of historical information.... Many of Douglass' speeches and writings have a contemporary ring (Benjamin Quarles).

The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass is not along a contribution of inestimable value to the Negro people. It is of incalculable value to all Americans (William L. Patterson).

These volumes... will force future historians to give Frederick Douglass the recognition he deserves. Foner, through his tireless industry in gathering this material from various libraries, and by his able job of editing, has made a major contribution to nineteenth-century political and social history (Kenneth M. Stampp).

The Philadelphia Tribune even went so far as to call it "one of the most important books ever published in America. It should occupy a prominent place on the bookshelf of every American home."

Unfortunately, Foner's five volumes are out of print. Five volumes of Douglass' speeches were subsequently published by Yale University Press, but at $475 for the set, they are beyond the means of most bookbuyers, and they include none of Douglass' hundreds of surviving letters, articles, and editorials. Although Douglass is undoubtedly one of America's greatest orators, political thinkers, and writers, no substantial one-volume collection of his speeches and writings has ever been published before now.

In aiming to fill that gap, I have collected from Foner's five volumes well over one-third of Douglass' material included therein. In doing so, I have attempted to balance what I think would be Foner's own wishes in compiling such a volume with the requirements of the contemporary reader; and in choosing what to include or exclude, I was concerned not only with the historical significance of each selection, but its literary merit. Foner's biography of Douglass is excellent, but to abridge it would have made it far less so, and to include it in toto would


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have filled up half this volume. I have therefore omitted it, only including, as headnotes, sections of it that pertain to particular speeches or writings. Like Foner, I have not included selections from Douglass' autobiographies, which are readily available, and which should be read as companions to this collection. I have added eight additional speeches and one article, most of which Foner would have probably included in his projected sixth volume. (They are: "My Slave Experience in Maryland," May 6, 1845; "The War and How to End It," March 25, 1862; "The Unknown Loyal Dead," May 30, 1871; "There Was a Right Side in the Late War," May 30, 1878; "John Brown," May 30, 1881; "I Denounce the So-Called Emancipation as a Stupendous Fraud," April 16, 1888, which Foner included in his collection The Voice of Black America; "The Bloody Shirt," June 19, 1888; "The Nation's Problem," April 16, 1889; and "Lynch Law in the South," The North American Review, July, 1892.) In addition, I have emended typographical errors and incorrect dates.

I would like to thank Henry Foner, Elizabeth Foner Vandepaer, and Laura Foner for their cooperation and the staff at Chicago Review Press for their support.

Benjamin Quarles once noted, "Douglass' own writings are models of clarity and good literary form. He never wrote an article or gave a speech without careful preparation.... Incapable of writing a dull line, Douglass invests his sentences with an almost poetic cadence, compelling the reader to turn the page." I hope that this selection -- representing only a small fraction of Douglass' monumental output -- convinces the reader of the truth of Quarles' remarks; and I would like to believe that, had they lived to see it, this book would have made its authors, Frederick Douglass and Philip S. Foner, proud.

Yuval Taylor

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bercovitch, Sacvan. The American Jeremiad. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.

Blassingame, John W., ed. The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series One: Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. 5 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979 -- 1992.

Chesebrough, David B. Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Clark, Gregory, and Halloran, S. Michael, eds. Oratorical Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Transformations in the Theory and Practice of Rhetoric. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Douglass, Frederick. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. New rev. ed. Boston: De Wolfe, Fisk, & Co., [1892].

--. My Bondage and My Freedom. New York and Auburn, NY: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855.

--. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Boston: Anti-Slavery Office, 1845.

Fishkin, Shelley Fisher, and Peterson, Carla L. "`We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident': The Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass's Journalism." In Frederick Douglass: New Literary and Historical Essays, ed. by Eric J. Sundquist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Foner, Philip S., ed. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass. 5 vols. New York: International Publishers, 1950 -- 1975.


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--, ed. The Voice of Black America: Major Speeches by Negroes in the United States, 1797 -- 1971. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972.

Fulkerson, Gerald. "Frederick Douglass (1818 -- 1895), Abolitionist, Reformer." In African-American Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, ed. by Richard W. Leeman. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

--, ed. The Classic Slave Narratives. New York: Mentor, 1987.

Holland, Frederic May. Frederick Douglass: The Colored Orator. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1891.

Martin, Waldo E., Jr. "Frederick Douglass (1818 -- 1895), Race Statesman, Abolitionist, Republican." In American Orators Before 1900: Critical Sources and Studies, ed. by Bernard K. Duffy and Halford R. Ryan. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987.

McFeely, William S. Frederick Douglass. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991.

Quarles, Benjamin. Frederick Douglass. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers, 1948.

--, ed. Frederick Douglass. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.


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Preface
In February, 1818, a Negro child was born in Maryland who was destined to become one of the nation's most distinguished citizens. Born a slave, he lifted himself up from bondage by his own efforts, taught himself to read and write, developed a great talent as lecturer, editor, and organizer, became a noted figure in American life, and gained world-wide recognition as the foremost spokesman for his oppressed people and courageous champion of many other progressive causes of his time.

The name of this man is Frederick Douglass....

No biography by itself can do the man full justice. For this we still have to read Douglass himself. Fortunately, this is no chore. These writings of a man whom slavery deprived of formal education constitute an important and distinctive contribution to our literature. Here is the clearest articulation of discontent, protest, militant action, and hope of the American Negro. Here one of the most brilliant minds of his time, constantly responsive to the great forces of his day, analyzes every important issue confronting the Negro and the American people generally during fifty crucial years in our history. Here are the eloquent words and penetrating thoughts that exerted a decisive influence on the course of national affairs for half a century and moved countless men and women to action in behalf of freedom. Most important of all, here are the militant principles of the outstanding leader of the Negro people whose ideas have remained vital and valid down to the present day.

Emphasis has been placed throughout these volumes on presenting Douglass' writings and speeches as they appeared in their original form.... There have been a few editorial alterations in the selections to correct obvious misprints. Moreover, the writer has deemed it advisable to change the lower-case spelling of the word Negro to the upper-case spelling.... Towards the end of his career Douglass began to use the upper-case spelling in his writings. It was the judgment of the writer that the upper case spelling of the word Negro should be used throughout these volumes.

Occasionally, too, the reader will come upon words in Douglass' speeches and writings which are correctly considered scurrilous and part of the parlance of the adherents of "white supremacy." In using them Douglass made it clear that he was doing so only to indicate the contempt expressed by the pro-slavery apologists for the Negro people. These words have not been fully spelled out in the present edition. By presenting these words in this form the writer believes that he best expresses the deepest indignation of all decent people at the slanderous attacks on the Negro people revealed in these epithets.

In all of Douglass' editorials and in most of his speeches, the original titles have been retained. The writer has supplied titles where they were missing or


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where more descriptive titles were considered advisable. The source of the originals of Douglass' writings and speeches has been placed at the end of each speech or article....

In the preparation of these volumes I have had the generous assistance and cooperation of the following: the libraries and personnel of the American Antiquarian Society, American Philosophical Library, the Frederick Douglass Memorial Association, Henry E. Huntington Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Library of Congress, New York Historical Society, Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial Association, the Schomburg Collection, New York, and the Wisconsin State Historical Society; the libraries of Fisk University, Harvard University, Moorland Foundation of Howard University, New York University, Oberlin College, Syracuse University, University of Rochester, and Yale University; the public libraries of Boston, New York City, and Rochester.

I also wish to thank Mr. Arthur B. Spingarn, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and Mr. Henry P. Slaughter for making available to me writings and speeches of Frederick Douglass in their personal collections.

Mr. Doxey A. Wilkerson, Dr. Herbert Aptheker, and Elizabeth Lawson have kindly read this manuscript and offered valuable suggestions....

Philip S. Foner


-- NA --

Part One: From 1841 to the Founding of the North Star

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Introduction
From the beginning of his career as a lecturer, Douglass moved beyond the narrow limits prescribed for him by the Garrisonians. He had been hired to tell the story of his slave experiences, and in his first public addresses he discussed nothing else. But within two months, he was discussing the "progress of the cause."... [In this early speech,] Douglass struck the central theme of his career as an Abolitionist -- the twin battle against slavery in the South and prejudice in the North....

Here was no mere copy of other Abolitionist lecturers. Here was a spokesman for his people who experienced their degradation every day of his life, and who could express in vivid burning language the pent-up indignation of the American Negro. [I:48 -- 49]

The Church and Prejudice
speech delivered at the Plymouth Church Anti-Slavery Society, December 23, 1841

At the South I was a member of the Methodist Church. When I came north, I thought one Sunday I would attend communion, at one of the churches of my denomination, in the town I was staying. The white people gathered round the altar, the blacks clustered by the door. After the good minister had served out the bread and wine to one portion of those near him, he said, "These may withdraw, and others come forward"; thus he proceeded till all the white members had been served. Then he drew a long breath, and looking out towards the door, exclaimed, "Come up, colored friends, come up! for you know God is no respecter of persons!" I haven't been there to see the sacraments taken since.

At New Bedford, where I live, there was a great revival of religion not long ago -- many were converted and "received" as they said, "into the kingdom of heaven." But it seems, the kingdom of heaven is like a net; at least so it was according to the practice of these pious Christians; and when the net was drawn ashore, they had to set down and cull out the fish. Well, it happened now that some of the fish had rather black scales; so these were sorted out and packed by themselves. But among those who experienced religion at this time was a colored girl; she was baptised in the same water as the rest; so she thought she might sit at the Lord's table and partake of the same sacramental elements with the others. The deacon handed round the cup, and when he came to the black girl, he could not pass her, for there was the minister looking right at him, and as he was a kind of abolitionist, the deacon was rather afraid of giving him offence; so he handed the girl the cup, and she tasted. Now it so happened that next to her sat a young lady who had been converted at the same time, baptised in the same water, and put her trust in the same blessed Saviour; yet when the cup, containing the precious blood which had been shed for all, came to her, she rose in disdain, and walked out of the church. Such was the religion she had experienced!

Another young lady fell into a trance. When she awoke, she declared she had been to heaven. Her friends were all anxious to know what and whom she had seen there; so she told the whole story. But there was one good old lady whose curiosity went beyond that of all the others -- and she inquired of the girl that had the vision, if she saw any black folks in heaven? After some hesitation, the reply was, "Oh! I didn't go into the kitchen!"

Thus you see, my hearers, this prejudice goes even into the church of God. And there are those who carry it so far that it is disagreeable to them even to think of going to heaven, if colored people are going there too. And whence comes it? The


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grand cause is slavery; but there are others less prominent; one of them is the way in which children in this part of the country are instructed to regard the blacks.

"Yes!" exclaimed an old gentleman, interrupting him -- "when they behave wrong, they are told, `black man come catch you.'"

Yet people in general will say they like colored men as well as any other, but in their proper place! They assign us that place; they don't let us do it for ourselves, nor will they allow us a voice in the decision. They will not allow that we have a head to think, and a heart to feel, and a soul to aspire. They treat us not as men, but as dogs -- they cry "Stu-boy!" and expect us to run and do their bidding. That's the way we are liked. You degrade us, and then ask why we are degraded -- you shut our mouths, and then ask why we don't speak -- you close your colleges and seminaries against us, and then ask why we don't know more.

But all this prejudice sinks into insignificance in my mind, when compared with the enormous iniquity of the system which is its cause -- the system that sold my four sisters and my brothers into bondage -- and which calls in its priests to defend it even from the Bible! The slaveholding ministers preach up the divine right of the slaveholders to property in their fellow-men. The southern preachers say to the poor slave, "Oh! if you wish to be happy in time, happy in eternity, you must be obedient to your masters; their interest is yours. God made one portion of men to do the working, and another to do the thinking; how good God is! Now, you have no trouble or anxiety; but ah! you can't imagine how perplexing it is to your masters and mistresses to have so much thinking to do in your behalf! You cannot appreciate your blessings; you know not how happy a thing it is for you, that you were born of that portion of the human family which has the working, instead of the thinking to do! Oh! how grateful and obedient you ought to be to your masters! How beautiful are the arrangements of Providence! Look at your hard, horny hands -- see how nicely they are adapted to the labor you have to perform! Look at our delicate fingers, so exactly fitted for our station, and see how manifest it is that God designed us to be His thinkers, and you the workers -- Oh! the wisdom of God!" -- I used to attend a Methodist church, in which my master was a class-leader; he would talk most sanctimoniously about the dear Redeemer, who was sent "to preach deliverance to the captives, and set at liberty them that are bruised" -- he could pray at morning, pray at noon, and pray at night; yet he could lash up my poor cousin by his two thumbs, and inflict stripes and blows upon his bare back, till the blood streamed to the ground! all the time quoting scripture, for his authority, and appealing to that passage of the Holy Bible which says, "He that knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes!" Such was the amount of this good Methodist's piety.

National Anti-Slavery Standard, December 23, 1841

Letter to William Lloyd Garrison
George Latimer, a fugitive slave, had fled to Boston from Norfolk, Virginia, in October, 1842. He was arrested without a warrant and thrown into a Boston jail solely on a warrant


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order to the jailer of Suffolk County from James B. Gray who claimed to be his owner. Friends rallied to the slave's side and demanded a trial by jury. When Chief Justice Shaw denied the demand and refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus, the movement to save Latimer gained tremendous momentum.

Boston was wild with excitement. Placards were distributed and handbills posted throughout the city denouncing the outrage, and summoning the citizens to a meeting in Faneuil Hall "For the Rescue of Liberty!" "Agitate! Agitate!" cried the Liberator of November 11, 1842. "Latimer shall go free!... Be vigilant, firm, uncompromising, friends of freedom! friends of God!"...

In mid-November Latimer was purchased from Gray for four hundred dollars, and then set free. Around this event, the Abolitionists organized a series of celebrations with Latimer as the central figure. Douglass, a prominent speaker at the celebrations, was moved by Latimer's freedom to unusual brilliance. 1

[This is the first public letter Douglass ever wrote.] [I:54]

TO WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON

Lynn, November 8th, 1842

Dear Friend Garrison:

The date of this letter finds me quite unwell. I have for a week past been laboring, in company with bro[ther] Charles Remond, in New Bedford, with special reference to the case of our outraged brother, George Latimer, and speaking almost day and night, in public and in private; and for the reward of our labor, I have the best evidence that a great good has been done. It is said by many residents, that New Bedford has never been so favorably aroused to her anti-slavery responsibility as at present. Our meetings were characterized by that deep and solemn feeling which the importance of the cause, when properly set forth, is always calculated to awaken. On Sunday, we held three meetings in the new town hall, at the usual meeting hours, morning, afternoon, and evening. In the morning, we had quite a large meeting, at the opening of which, I occupied about an hour, on the question as to whether a man is better than a sheep. Mr. Dean then made a few remarks, and after him, Mr. Clapp of Nantucket arose and gave his testimony to the truth, as it is in anti-slavery. The meeting then adjourned, to meet again in the afternoon. I said that we held our meetings at the regular meeting hours. Truth requires me to make our afternoon meeting an exception to this remark. For long before the drawling, lazy church bells commenced sounding their deathly notes, mighty crowds were making their way to the town hall.... After a short space, allotted to secret or public prayer, bro[ther] J. B. Sanderson arose and requested the attention of the audience to the reading of a few passages of scripture, selected by yourself in the editorial of last week. They did give their attention, and as he read the solemn and soul-stirring denunciations of Jehovah, by the mouth of his prophets and apostles, against oppressors, the deep stillness that pervaded that magnificent hall was a brilliant demonstration that the audience felt that what was read was but the reiteration of words which had fallen from the great Judge of the universe. After reading, he proceeded to make some remarks on the general question of human rights. These, too, seemed to sink deep into the hearts of the gathered multitude.


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Not a word was lost; it was good seed, sown in good ground, by a careful hand; it must, it will bring forth fruit.

After him, rose bro[ther] Remond, who addressed the meeting in his usual happy and deeply affecting style. When he had concluded his remarks, the meeting adjourned to meet again at an early hour in the evening....

The meeting met according to adjournment, at an early hour. The splendid hall was brilliantly lighted, and crowded with an earnest, listening audience, and notwithstanding the efforts of our friends before named to have them seated, a large number had to stand during the meeting, which lasted about three hours; where the standing part of the audience were, at the commencement of the meeting, there they were at the conclusion of it; no moving about with them; any place was good enough, so they could but hear. From the eminence which I occupied, I could see the entire audience; and from its appearance, I should conclude that prejudice against color was not there, at any rate, it was not to be seen by me; we were all on a level, every one took a seat just where they chose; there were neither men's side, nor women's side; white pew, nor black pew; but all seats were free, and all sides free. When the meeting was fully gathered, I had something to say, and was followed by bro[thers] Sanderson and Remond. When they had concluded their remarks, I again took the stand, and called the attention of the meeting to the case of bro[ther] George Latimer, which proved the finishing stroke of my present public speaking. On taking my seat, I was seized with a violent pain in my breast, which continued till morning, and with occasional raising of blood; this past off in about two hours, after which, weakness of breast, a cough, and shortness of breath ensued, so that now such is the state of my lungs, that I am unfit for public speaking, for the present. My condition goes harder with me, much harder than it would at ordinary times. These are certainly extraordinary times; times that demand the efforts of the humblest of our most humble advocates of our perishing and dying fellow-countrymen. Those that can but whisper freedom, should be doing even that, though they can only be heard from one side of their short fire place to the other. It is a struggle of life and death with us just now. No sword that can be used, be it never so rusty, should lay idle in its scabbard. Slavery, our enemy, has landed in our very midst, and commenced its bloody work. Just look at it; here is George Latimer a man -- a brother -- a husband -- a father, stamped with the likeness of the eternal God, and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, out-lawed, hunted down like a wild beast, and ferociously dragged through the streets of Boston, and incarcerated within the walls of Leverett-st. jail. And all this is done in Boston -- liberty-loving, slavery-hating Boston -- intellectual, moral, and religious Boston. And why was this -- what crime had George Latimer committed? He had committed the crime of availing himself of his natural rights, in defence of which the founders of this very Boston enveloped her in midnight darkness, with the smoke proceeding from their thundering artillery. What a horrible state of things is here presented. Boston has become the hunting-ground of merciless men-hunters, and man-stealers. Henceforth we need not portray to the imagination of northern people, the flying slave making his way through thick and dark woods of the South, with white fanged blood-hounds yelping on his blood-stained track; but refer to the


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streets of Boston, made dark and dense by crowds of professed Christians. Take a look at James B. Gray's new pack, turned loose on the track of poor Latimer. I see the blood-thirsty animals, smelling at every corner, part with each other, and meet again; they seem to be consulting as to the best mode of coming upon their victim. Now they look sad, discouraged; -- tired, they drag along, as if they were ashamed of their business, and about to give up the chase; but presently they get a sight of their prey, their eyes brighten, they become more courageous, they approach their victim unlike the common hound. They come upon him softly, wagging their tails, pretending friendship, and do not pounce upon him, until they have secured him beyond possible escape. Such is the character of James B. Gray's new pack of two-legged blood-hounds that hunted down George Latimer, and dragged him away to the Leverett-street slave prison but a few days since. We need not point to the sugar fields of Louisiana, or to the rice swamps of Alabama, for the bloody deeds of this soul-crushing system, but to the city of the pilgrims. In future, we need not uncap the bloody cells of the horrible slave prisons of Norfolk, Richmond, Mobile, and New-Orleans, and depict the wretched and forlorn condition of their miserable inmates, whose groans rend the air, pierce heaven, and disturb the Almighty; listen no longer at the snappings of the bloody slavedrivers' lash. Withdraw your attention, for a moment, from the agonizing cries coming from hearts bursting with the keenest anguish at the South, gaze no longer upon the base, cold-blooded, heartless slave-dealer of the South, who lays his iron clutch upon the hearts of husband and wife, and, with one mighty effort, tears the bleeding ligaments apart which before constituted the twain one flesh. I say, turn your attention from all this cruelty abroad, look now at home -- follow me to your courts of justice -- mark him who sits upon the bench. He may, or he may not -- God grant he may not -- tear George Latimer from a beloved wife and tender infant. But let us take a walk to the prison in which George Latimer is confined, inquire for the turn-key; let him open the large iron-barred door that leads you to the inner prison. You need go no further. Hark! Listen! hear the groans and cries of George Latimer, mingling with which may be heard the cry -- my wife, my child -- and all is still again.

A moment of reflection ensues -- I am to be taken back to Norfolk -- must be torn from a wife and tender babe, with the threat from Mr. Gray that I am to be murdered, though not in the ordinary way -- not to have my head severed from my shoulders, not to be hanged -- not to have my heart pierced through with a dagger -- not to have my brains blown out. No, no, all these are too good for me. No: I am to be killed by inches. I know not how; perhaps by cat-hauling until my back is torn all to pieces, my flesh is to be cut with the rugged lash, and I faint; warm brine must now be poured into my bleeding wounds, and through this process I must pass, until death shall end my sufferings. Good God! save me from a fate so horrible. Hark! hear him roll in his chains; "I can die, I had rather, than go back. O, my wife! O, my child!" You have heard enough. What man, what Christian can look upon this bloody state of things without his soul swelling big with indignation on the guilty perpetrators of it, and without resolving to cast in his influence with those who are collecting the elements which are to come down in ten-fold thunder, and dash this state of things into atoms?


-- 8 --

Men, husbands and fathers of Massachusetts -- put yourselves in the place of George Latimer; feel his pain and anxiety of mind; give vent to the groans that are breaking through his fever-parched lips, from a heart emersed in the deepest agony and suffering; rattle his chains; let his prospects be yours, for the space of a few moments. Remember George Latimer in bonds as bound with him; keep in view the golden rule -- "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them." "In as much as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me."

Now make up your minds to what your duty is to George Latimer, and when you have made your minds up, prepare to do it and take the consequences, and I have no fears of George Latimer going back. I can sympathize with George Latimer, having myself been cast into a miserable jail, on suspicion of my intending to do what he is said to have done, viz., appropriating my own body to my use.

My heart is full, and had I my voice, I should be doing all that I am capable of, for Latimer's redemption. I can do but little in any department; but if one department is more the place for me than another, that one is before the people.

I can't write to much advantage, having never had a day's schooling in my life, nor have I ever ventured to give publicity to any of my scribbling before; nor would I now, but for my peculiar circumstances.

Your grateful friend,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, November 18, 1842

The Folly of Our Opponents
In a note enclosing this article, Mr. Douglass says: -- "It was intended for a place in The Liberty Bell, but my literary advantages have been so limited, that I am ill prepared to decide what is, and what is not, appropriate for such a collection. I looked exceedingly strange in my own eyes, as I sat writing. The thought of writing for a book! -- and only six years since a fugitive from a Southern cornfield -- caused a singular jingle in my mind."


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Dr. Dewey, in his somewhat notorious defence of American Morals, published soon after his return to this country from Europe, where he had witnessed those morals subjected to a most rigid examination, treats of the conduct of the American people with regard to prejudice and Slavery; and, in extenuation of their conduct, speaks of the existence of an "impassable barrier" between the white and colored people of this country, and proceeds to draw a most odious picture of the character of his colored fellow-countrymen. Mean and wicked as is this position, the Doctor assumes it; and in so doing, becomes the favorite representative of a large class of his divine order, as well as of his white fellow citizens, who, like himself, being stung to very shame by the exposures abroad of their naked inhumanity at home, strive, with fig-leaf sophistry, to cover their guilt from the penetrating eye and scorching rebukes of the Christian world.

Fortunately for the cause of truth and human brotherhood, it has reached a period, when such mean-spirited efforts tend more to advance than retard its progress. Ingenious as are the arguments of its foes, they but defeat the object they are intended to promote. Their authors, in seeking thus to cover their sins, succeed only in lighting the lamp of investigation by which their guilt is more completely exposed. It is the decree of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, that he will confound the wisdom of the crafty, and bring to naught the counsels of the ungodly; and how faithfully is his decree executed upon those who bring their worldly wisdom to cover up the guilt of the American people! Their iniquity has grown too large for its robe. When one part is covered, another, equally odious and revolting, is made to appear. The efforts of priests and politicians to stretch the garment, to suit the dimensions of this giant sin, has resulted in tearing it asunder, and leaving the monster revealed as perhaps it never was before.

When they tell the world that the Negro is ignorant, and naturally and intellectually incapacitated to appreciate and enjoy freedom, they also publish their own condemnation, by bringing to light those infamous Laws by which the Slave is compelled to live in the grossest ignorance. When they tell the world that the Slave is immoral, vicious and degraded, they but invite attention to their own depravity: for the world sees the Slave stripped, by his accusers, of every safeguard to virtue, even of that purest and most sacred institution of marriage. When they represent the Slave as being destitute of religious principle -- as in the preceding cases -- they profit nothing by the plea. In addition to their moral condemnation they brand themselves with bold and daring impiety, in making it an offence punishable with fine and imprisonment, and even death, to teach a Slave to read the will of God. When they pretend that they hold the Slave out of actual regard to the Slave's welfare, and not because of any profit which accrues to themselves, as owners, they are covered with confusion by the single fact that Virginia alone has realized, in one short year, eighteen millions of dollars from the sale of human flesh. When they attempt to shield themselves by the grossly absurd and wicked pretence that the Slave is contented and happy, and, therefore, "better off" in Slavery than he could be possessed of freedom, their shield is broken by that long and bloody list of advertisements for runaway Slaves who have left their happy homes, and sought for freedom, even at the hazard of losing their lives in the attempt to gain it. When it is most foolishly asserted by Henry Clay, and those he


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represents, that the freedom of the colored is incompatible with the liberty of the white people of this country, the wicked intent of its author, and the barefaced absurdity of the proposition, are equally manifest. And when John C. Calhoun and Senator Walker attempt to prove that freedom is fraught with deafness, insanity and blindness to the people of color, their whole refuge of lies is swept away by the palpable inaccuracy of the last United States Census. And when, to cap the climax, Dr. Dewey tells the people of England that the white and colored people in this country are separated by an "impassable barrier," the hundreds of thousands of mulattoes, quadroons, &c. in this country, silently but unequivocally brand him with the guilt of having uttered a most egregious falsehood.

Bad, however, as are the apologies which the American people make in defence of themselves and their "peculiar institution," I am always glad to see them. I prize them very highly, as indications of a living sense of shame, which renders them susceptible of outward influences, and which shall one day bring them to repentance. Men seldom sink so deep in sin as to rid themselves of all disposition to apologize for their iniquity; -- when they do, it is quite idle to labor for their reformation. Fortunately for our brethren under the accursed yoke, the American people have not yet reached that depth; and whilst there is a sense of shame left, there is strong ground for hope. The year eighteen hundred and forty-four has produced an abundant harvest of anti-slavery discussion. Slavery and prejudice cannot endure discussion, even though such discussion be had in its favor. The light necessary to reason by, is at once too painful to the eyes of these twin-monsters of darkness to be endured. Their motto is, "Put out the light!" Thanks to Heaven, "the morning light is breaking"; our cause is onward; the efforts of our enemies, not less than the efforts of our friends, are contributing to increase the strength of that sentiment at home, as well as abroad, which is very soon to dash down the bloody altar of Slavery, and "proclaim liberty through all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof."

Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.

The Liberty Bell, 1845, pp. 166 -- 172

My Slave Expierence in Maryland
Pleased though they were with Douglass' effectiveness on the platform, his associates were becoming convinced that his development had been too rapid. As early as 1841 Stephen S. Foster had warned Douglass, "People won't believe that you were ever a slave, Frederick, if you keep on in this way." [John A.] Collins had added, "Better have a little of the plantation speech than not; it is not best that you seem too learned." But Douglass refused to be stereotyped and stunted, and despite repeated exhortations to "give us the facts, we will take care of the philosophy," he refused to confine himself to repeating the story of his life over and over again. "I could not always follow the injunction," he wrote later, "for I was now reading and thinking. New views of the subject were being presented to my mind. It did not entirely satisfy me to narrate wrongs; I felt like denouncing them. ... Besides I was growing and needed room." 2


-- 11 --

The conflict on this issue was inevitable. Many middle and upperclass white Abolitionists would not see the former Negro slave as anything but an exhibit. The white anti-slavery leaders would be the main actors; the Negroes would be the extras or only part of the stage props. Some white Abolitionists were sorry to see Douglass' rapid development as a brilliant thinker and orator. Instead of being proud that this former Negro slave had been able in such a short time to equal and even surpass many of the white spokesmen against slavery, they were worried by it and even resented it.

Yet Douglass was soon to discover that the fears of his advisers were not entirely groundless. He began to hear and read statements expressing doubt as to his ever having seen slavery. "Many persons in the audience," wrote a Philadelphia correspondent in the Liberator of August 30, 1844, "seemed unable to credit the statements which he gave of himself, and could not believe that he was actually a slave. How a man, only six years out of bondage, and who had never gone to school a day in his life, could speak with such eloquence -- with such precision of language and power of thought -- they were utterly at a loss to devise."

Douglass was aware that if such reports continued, they would be fatal to his effectiveness as an Abolitionist agent. So he resolved to throw caution to the winds and write the story of his life. During the winter months of 1844 -- 1845 he was busily engaged in setting down an account of his slave experiences. His Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a small volume of 125 pages selling for fifty cents, with introductions by Garrison and Phillips, came off the press in May, 1845. [I: 59]

MY SLAVE EXPERIENCE IN MARYLAND, speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 6, 1845

I do not know that I can say anything to the point. My habits and early life have done much to unfit me for public speaking, and I fear that your patience has already been wearied by the lengthened remarks of other speakers, more eloquent than I can possibly be, and better prepared to command the attention of the audience. And I can scarcely hope to get your attention even for a longer period than fifteen minutes.

Before coming to this meeting, I had a sort of desire -- I don't know but it was vanity -- to stand before a New-York audience in the Tabernacle. But when I came in this morning, and looked at those massive pillars, and saw the vast throng which had assembled, I got a little frightened, and was afraid that I could not speak; but now that the audience is not so large and I have recovered from my fright, I will venture to say a word on Slavery.

I ran away from the South seven years ago -- passing through this city in no little hurry, I assure you -- and lived about three years in New Bedford, Massachusetts, before I became publicly known to the anti-slavery people. Since then I have been engaged for three years in telling the people what I know of it. I have come to this meeting to throw in my mite, and since no fugitive slave has preceded me, I am encouraged to say a word about the sunny South. I thought, when the eloquent female who addressed this audience a while ago, was speaking of the horrors of Slavery, that many an honest man would doubt the truth of the picture which she drew; and I can unite with the gentleman from Kentucky in saying, that she came far short of describing them.

I can tell you what I have seen with my own eyes, felt on my own person, and


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know to have occurred in my own neighborhood. I am not from any of those States where the slaves are said to be in their most degraded condition; but from Maryland, where Slavery is said to exist in its mildest form; yet I can stand here and relate atrocities which would make your blood to boil at the statement of them. I lived on the plantation of Col. Lloyd, on the eastern shore of Maryland, and belonged to that gentleman's clerk. He owned, probably, not less than a thousand slaves.

I mention the name of this man, and also of the persons who perpetrated the deeds which I am about to relate, running the risk of being hurled back into interminable bondage -- for I am yet a slave; -- yet for the sake of the cause -- for the sake of humanity, I will mention the names, and glory in running the risk. I have the gratification to know that if I fall by the utterance of truth in this matter, that if I shall be hurled back into bondage to gratify the slaveholder -- to be killed by inches -- that every drop of blood which I shall shed, every groan which I shall utter, every pain which shall rack my frame, every sob in which I shall indulge, shall be the instrument, under God, of tearing down the bloody pillar of Slavery, and of hastening the day of deliverance for three millions of my brethren in bondage.

I therefore tell the names of these bloody men, not because they are worse than other men would have been in their circumstances. No, they are bloody from necessity. Slavery makes it necessary for the slaveholder to commit all conceivable outrages upon the miserable slave. It is impossible to hold the slaves in bondage without this.

We had on the plantation an overseer, by the name of Austin Gore, a man who was highly respected as an overseer -- proud, ambitious, cruel, artful, obdurate. Nearly every slave stood in the utmost dread and horror of that man. His eye flashed confusion amongst them. He never spoke but to command, nor commanded but to be obeyed. He was lavish with the whip, sparing with his word. I have seen that man tie up men by the two hands, and for two hours, at intervals, ply the lash. I have seen women stretched up on the limbs of trees, and their bare backs made bloody with the lash. One slave refused to be whipped by him -- I need not tell you that he was a man, though black his features, degraded his condition. He had committed some trifling offence -- for they whip for trifling offences -- the slave refused to be whipped, and ran -- he did not stand to and fight his master as I did once, and might do again -- though I hope I shall not have occasion to do so -- he ran and stood in a creek, and refused to come out. At length his master told him he would shoot him if he did not come out. Three calls were to be given him. The first, second, and third, were given, at each of which the slave stood his ground. Gore, equally determined and firm, raised his musket, and in an instant poor Derby was no more. He sank beneath the waves, and naught but the crimsoned waters marked the spot. Then a general outcry might be heard amongst us. Mr. Lloyd asked Gore why he had resorted to such a cruel measure. He replied, coolly, that he had done it from necessity; that the slave was setting a dangerous example, and that if he was permitted to be corrected and yet save his life, that the slaves would effectually rise and be freemen, and their masters be slaves. His defence was satisfactory. He remained on the plantation,


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and his fame went abroad. He still lives in St. Michaels, Talbot county, Maryland, and is now, I presume, as much respected, as though his guilty soul had never been stained with his brother's blood.

I might go on and mention other facts if time would permit. My own wife had a dear cousin who was terribly mangled in her sleep, while nursing the child of a Mrs. Hicks. Finding the girl asleep, Mrs. Hicks beat her to death with a billet of wood, and the woman has never been brought to justice." It is not a crime to kill a negro in Talbot county, Maryland, farther than it is a deprivation of a man's property. I used to know of one who boasted that he had killed two slaves, and with an oath would say, "I'm the only benefactor in the country."

Now, my friends, pardon me for having detained you so long; but let me tell you with regard to the feelings of the slave. The people at the North say -- "Why don't you rise? If we were thus treated we would rise and throw off the yoke. We would wade knee deep in blood before we would endure the bondage." You'd rise up! Who are these that are asking for manhood in the slave, and who say that he has it not, because he does not rise? The very men who are ready by the Constitution to bring the strength of the nation to put us down! You, the people of New-York, the people of Massachusetts, of New England, of the whole Northern States, have sworn under God that we shall be slaves or die! And shall we three millions be taunted with a want of the love of freedom, by the very men who stand upon us and say, submit, or be crushed?

We don't ask you to engage in any physical warfare against the slaveholder. We only ask that in Massachusetts, and the several non-slaveholding States which maintain a union with the slaveholder -- who stand with your heavy heels on the quivering heart-strings of the slave, that you will stand off. Leave us to take care of our masters. But here you come up to our masters and tell them that they ought to shoot us -- to take away our wives and little ones -- to sell our mothers into interminable bondage, and sever the tenderest ties. You say to us, if you dare to carry out the principles of our fathers, we'll shoot you down. Others may tamely submit; not I. You may put the chains upon me and fetter me, but I am not a slave, for my master who puts the chains upon me, shall stand in as much dread of me as I do of him. I ask you in the name of my three millions of brethren at the South. We know that we are unable to cope with you in numbers; you are numerically stronger, politically stronger, than we are -- but we ask you if you will rend asunder the heart and [crush] the body of the slave? If so, you must do it at your own expense.

While you continue in the Union, you are as bad as the slaveholder. If you have thus wronged the poor black man, by stripping him of his freedom, how are you going to give evidence of your repentance? Undo what you have done. Do you say that the slave ought not to be free? These hands -- are they not mine? This body -- is it not mine? Again, I am your brother, white as you are. I'm your blood-kin. You don't get rid of me so easily. I mean to hold on to you. And in this land of liberty, I'm a slave. The twenty-six States that blaze forth on your flag, proclaim a compact to return me to bondage if I run away, and keep me in bondage if I submit. Wherever I go, under the aegis of your liberty, there I'm a slave. If I go to Lexington or Bunker Hill, there I'm a slave, chained in perpetual


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servitude. I may go to your deepest valley, to your highest mountain, I'm still a slave, and the bloodhound may chase me down.

Now I ask you if you are willing to have your country the hunting-ground of the slave. God says thou shalt not oppress: the Constitution says oppress: which will you serve, God or man? The American Anti-Slavery Society says God, and I am thankful for it. In the name of my brethren, to you, Mr. President, and the noble band who cluster around you, to you, who are scouted on every hand by priest, people, politician, Church, and State, to you I bring a thankful heart, and in the name of three millions of slaves, I offer you their gratitude for your faithful advocacy in behalf of the slave.

National Anti-Slavery Standard, May 22, 1845

Letter to William Lloyd Garrison
On August 16, 1845, accompanied by the Hutchinsons and James N. Buffum, Douglass sailed for Liverpool on the Cunard steamer Cambria. Buffum's efforts to get first-class passage for Douglass had failed for what was politely referred to as "complexional reasons," and Douglass was forced to travel steerage. Every morning during the eleven-day trip, however, he joined his colleagues on the promenade deck, mingled with the passengers, and sold copies of the Narrative. The captain of the steamer was disposed to be friendly to his Negro passenger and ignored the protests of southerners on board. But the night before the Cambria docked at Liverpool, the explosion came. [I:62]

TO WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON

Dublin, Sept. 1, 1845

Dear Friend Garrison:

Thanks to a kind Providence, I am now safe in old Ireland, in the beautiful city of Dublin, surrounded by the kind family, and seated at the table of our mutual friend, James H. Webb, brother of the well-known Richard D. Webb.... I know it will gladden your heart to hear, that from the moment we first lost sight of the American shore, till we landed at Liverpool, our gallant steam-ship was the theatre of an almost constant discussion of the subject of slavery -- commencing cool, but growing hotter every moment as it advanced. It was a great time for anti-slavery, and a hard time for slavery; -- the one delighting in the sunshine of free discussion, and the other horror-stricken at its God-like approach. The discussion was general. If suppressed in the saloon, it broke out in the steerage; and if it ceased in the steerage, it was renewed in the saloon; and if suppressed in both, it broke out with redoubled energy, high upon the saloon deck, in the open, refreshing, free ocean air. I was happy. Every thing went on nobly. The truth was being told, and having its legitimate effect upon the hearts of those who heard it. At last, the evening previous to our arrival at Liverpool, the slave-holders, convinced that reason, morality, common honesty, humanity, and


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Christianity, were all against them, and that argument was no longer any means of defence, or at least but a poor means, abandoned their post in debate, and resorted to their old and natural mode of defending their morality by brute force.

Yes, they actually got up a mob -- a real American, republican, democratic, Christian mob, -- and that, too, on the deck of a British steamer, and in sight of the beautiful high lands of Dungarvan! I declare, it is enough to make a slave ashamed of the country that enslaved him, to think of it. Without the slightest pretensions to patriotism, as the phrase goes, the conduct of the mobocratic Americans on board the Cambria almost made me ashamed to say I had run away from such a country. It was decidedly the most daring and disgraceful, as well as wicked exhibition of depravity, I ever witnessed, North or South; and the actors in it showed themselves to be as hard in heart, as venomous in spirit, and as bloody in design, as the infuriated men who bathed their hands in the warm blood of the noble Lovejoy. 3

The facts connected with, and the circumstances leading to, this most disgraceful transaction, I will now give, with some minuteness, though I may border, at times, a little on the ludicrous.

In the first place, our passengers were made up of nearly all sorts of people, from different countries, of the most opposite modes of thinking on all subjects. We had nearly all sorts of parties in morals, religion, and politics, as well as trades, callings, and professions. The doctor and the lawyer, the soldier and the sailor, were there. The scheming Connecticut wooden clock-maker, the large, surly, New-York lion-tamer, the solemn Roman Catholic bishop, and the Orthodox Quaker were there. A minister of the Free Church of Scotland, and a minister of the Church of England -- the established Christian and the wandering Jew, the Whig and the Democrat, the white and the black -- were there. There was the dark-visaged Spaniard, and the light-visaged Englishman -- the man from Montreal, and the man from Mexico. There were slaveholders from Cuba, and slaveholders from Georgia. We had anti-slavery singing and pro-slavery grumbling; and at the same time that Governor Hammond's Letters were being read, 4 my Narrative was being circulated.

In the midst of the debate going on, there sprang up quite a desire, on the part of a number on board, to have me lecture to them on slavery. I was first requested to do so by one of the passengers, who had become quite interested. I, of course, declined, well knowing that that was a privilege which the captain alone had a right to give, and intimated as much to the friend who invited me. I told him I should not feel at liberty to lecture, unless the captain should personally invite me to speak. Things went on as usual till between five and six o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, when I received an invitation from the captain to deliver an address upon the saloon deck. I signified my willingness to do so, and he at once ordered the bell to be rung and the meeting cried. This was the signal for a general excitement. Some swore I should not speak, and others that I should. Bloody threats were being made against me, if I attempted it. At the hour appointed, I went upon the saloon deck, where I was expected to speak. There was much noise going on among the passengers, evidently intended to make it impossible for me to proceed. At length, our Hutchinson friends broke forth in one of their unrivalled songs, which, like the angel of old, closed the lions' mouths, so that, for a


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time, silence prevailed. The captain, taking advantage of this silence, now introduced me, and expressed the hope that the audience would hear me with attention. I then commenced speaking; and, after expressing my gratitude to a kind Providence that had brought us safely across the sea, I proceeded to portray the condition of my brethren in bonds. I had not uttered five words, when a Mr. Hazzard, from Connecticut, called out, in a loud voice, "That's a lie!" I went on, taking no notice of him, though he was murmuring nearly all the while, backed up by a man from New-Jersey. I continued till I said something which seemed to cut to the quick, when out bawled Hazzard, "That's a lie!" and appeared anxious to strike me. I then said to the audience that I would explain to them the reason of Hazzard's conduct. The colored man, in our country, was treated as a being without rights. "That's a lie!" said Hazzard. I then told the audience that as almost every thing I said was pronounced lies, I would endeavor to substantiate them by reading a few extracts from slave laws. The slavocrats, finding they were now to be fully exposed, rushed up about me, with hands clenched, and swore I should not speak. They were ashamed to have American laws read before an English audience. Silence was restored by the interference of the captain, who took a noble stand in regard to my speaking. He said he had tried to please all of his passengers -- and a part of them had expressed to him a desire to hear me lecture to them, and in obedience to their wishes he had invited me to speak; and those who did not wish to hear, might go to some other part of the ship. He then turned, and requested me to proceed. I again commenced, but was again interrupted -- more violently than before. One slaveholder from Cuba shook his fist in my face, and said, "O, I wish I had you in Cuba!" "Ah!" said another, "I wish I had him in Savannah! We would use him up!" Said another, "I will be one of a number to throw him overboard!"

We were now fully divided into two distinct parties -- those in favor of my speaking, and those against me. A noble-spirited Irish gentleman assured the man who proposed to throw me overboard, that two could play at that game, and that, in the end, he might be thrown overboard himself. The clamor went on, waxing hotter and hotter, till it was quite impossible for me to proceed. I was stopped, but the cause went on. Anti-slavery was uppermost, and the mob was never of more service to the cause against which it was directed. The clamor went on long after I ceased speaking, and was only silenced by the captain, who told the mobocrats if they did not cease their clamor, he would have them put in irons; and he actually sent for the irons, and doubtless would have made use of them, had not the rioters become orderly.

Such is but a faint outline of an AMERICAN MOB ON BOARD OF A BRITISH STEAM PACKET.

Yours, to the end of the race,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, September 26, 1845


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TO WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON

Victoria Hotel, Belfast,

January 1, 1846

My Dear Friend Garrison:

I am now about to take leave of the Emerald Isle, for Glasgow, Scotland. I have been here a little more than four months. Up to this time, I have given no direct expression of the views, feelings and opinions which I have formed, respecting the character and condition of the people in this land. I have refrained thus purposely. I wish to speak advisedly, and in order to do this, I have waited till I trust experience has brought my opinions to an intelligent maturity. I have been thus careful, not because I think what I may say will have much effect in shaping the opinions of the world, but because whatever of influence I may possess, whether little or much, I wish it to go in the right direction, and according to truth. I hardly need say that, in speaking of Ireland, I shall be influenced by prejudices in favor of America. I think my circumstances all forbid that. I have no end to serve, no creed to uphold, no government to defend; and as to nation, I belong to none. I have no protection at home, or resting-place abroad. The land of my birth welcomes me to her shores only as a slave, and spurns with contempt the idea of treating me differently. So that I am an outcast from the society of my childhood, and an outlaw in the land of my birth. "I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were." That men should be patriotic is to me perfectly natural; and as a philosophical fact, I am able to give it an intellectual recognition. But no further can I go. If ever I had any patriotism, or any capacity for the feeling, it was whipt out of me long since by the lash of the American soul-drivers.

In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky -- her grand old woods -- her fertile fields -- her beautiful rivers -- her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery and wrong, -- when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded


-- 18 --
and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing, and led to reproach myself that any thing could fall from my lips in praise of such a land. America will not allow her children to love her. She seems bent on compelling those who would be her warmest friends, to be her worst enemies. May God give her repentance before it is too late, is the ardent prayer of my heart. I will continue to pray, labor and wait, believing that she cannot always be insensible to the dictates of justice, or deaf to the voice of humanity.

My opportunities for learning the character and condition of the people of this land have been very great. I have travelled almost from the hill of "Howth" to the Giant's Causeway, and from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear. During these travels, I have met with much in the character and condition of the people to approve, and much to condemn -- much that has thrilled me with pleasure -- and very much that has filled me with pain. I will not, in this letter, attempt to give any description of those scenes which have given me pain. This I will do hereafter. I have enough, and more than your subscribers will be disposed to read at one time, of the bright side of the picture. I can truly say, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life. The warm and generous co-operation extended to me by the friends of my despised race -- the prompt and liberal manner with which the press has rendered me its aid -- the glorious enthusiasm with which thousands have flocked to hear the cruel wrongs of my down-trodden and long-enslaved fellow-countrymen portrayed -- the deep sympathy for the slave, and the strong abhorrence of the slaveholder, everywhere evinced -- the cordiality with which members and ministers of various religious bodies, and of various shades of religious opinion, have embraced me, and lent me their aid -- the kind hospitality constantly proffered to me by persons of the highest rank in society -- the spirit of freedom that seems to animate all with whom I come in contact -- and the entire absence of every thing that looked like prejudice against me, on account of the color of my skin -- contrasted so strongly with my long and bitter experience in the United States, that I look with wonder and amazement on the transition. In the Southern part of the United States, I was a slave, thought of and spoken of as property. In the language of the LAW, "held, taken, reputed and adjudged to be a chattel in the hands of my owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever." -- Brev. Digest, 224. In the Northern States, a fugitive slave, liable to be hunted at any moment like a felon, and to be hurled into the terrible jaws of slavery -- doomed by an inveterate prejudice against color to insult and outrage on every hand, (Massachusetts out of the question) -- denied the privileges and courtesies common to others in the use of the most humble means of conveyance -- shut out from the cabins on steamboats -- refused admission to respectable hotels -- caricatured, scorned, scoffed, mocked and maltreated with impunity by any one, (no matter how black his heart,) so he has a white skin. But now behold the change! Eleven days and a half gone, and I have crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a democratic government, I am under a monarchical government. Instead of the bright blue sky of America, I am covered with the


-- 19 --
soft grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and lo! the chattel becomes a man. I gaze around in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim me as his slave, or offer me an insult. I employ a cab -- I am seated beside white people -- I reach the hotel -- I enter the same door -- I am shown into the same parlor -- I dine at the same table -- and no one is offended. No delicate nose grows deformed in my presence. I find no difficulty here in obtaining admission into any place of worship, instruction or amusement, on equal terms with people as white as any I ever saw in the United States. I meet nothing to remind me of my complexion. I find myself regarded and treated at every turn with the kindness and deference paid to white people. When I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip to tell me, "We don't allow n -- rs in here"!

I remember, about two years ago, there was in Boston, near the southwest corner of Boston Common, a menagerie. I had long desired to see such a collection as I understood were being exhibited there. Never having had an opportunity while a slave, I resolved to seize this, my first, since my escape. I went, and as I approached the entrance to gain admission, I was met and told by the doorkeeper, in a harsh and contemptuous tone, "We don't allow n -- rs in here." I also remember attending a revival meeting in the Rev. Henry Jackson's meeting-house, at New-Bedford, and going up the broad aisle to find a seat. I was met by a good deacon, who told me, in a pious tone, "We don't allow n -- rs in here"! Soon after my arrival in New-Bedford from the South, I had a strong desire to attend the Lyceum, but was told, "They don't allow n -- rs in here"! While passing from New York to Boston on the steamer Massachusetts, on the night of 9th Dec. 1843, when chilled almost through with the cold, I went into the cabin to get a little warm. I was soon touched upon the shoulder, and told, "We don't allow n -- rs in here"! On arriving in Boston from an anti-slavery tour, hungry and tired, I went into an eating-house near my friend Mr. Campbell's, to get some refreshments. I was met by a lad in a white apron, "We don't allow n -- rs in here"! A week or two before leaving the United States, I had a meeting appointed at Weymouth, the home of that glorious band of true abolitionists, the Weston family, and others. On attempting to take a seat in the Omnibus to that place, I was told by the driver, (and I never shall forget his fiendish hate,) "I don't allow n -- rs in here"! Thank heaven for the respite I now enjoy! I had been in Dublin but a few days, when a gentleman of great respectability kindly offered to conduct me through all the public buildings of that beautiful city; and a little afterwards, I found myself dining with the Lord Mayor of Dublin. What a pity there was not some American democratic Christian at the door of his splendid mansion, to bark out at my approach, "They don't allow n -- rs in here"! The truth is, the people here know nothing of the republican Negro hate prevalent in our glorious land. They measure and esteem men according to their moral and intellectual worth, and not according to the color of their skin. Whatever may be said of the aristocracies here, there is none based on the color of a man's skin. This species of aristocracy belongs pre-eminently to "the land of the free, and the home of the brave." I have never found it abroad, in any but Americans. It sticks to them wherever they go. They find it almost as hard to get rid of it as to get rid of their skins.


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The second day after my arrival at Liverpool, in company with my friend Buffum, and several other friends, I went to Eaton Hall, the residence of the Marquis of Westminster, one of the most splendid buildings in England. On approaching the door, I found several of our American passengers, who came out with us in the Cambria, waiting at the door for admission, as but one party was allowed in the house at a time. We all had to wait till the company within came out. And of all the faces, expressive of chagrin, those of the Americans were pre-eminent. They looked as sour as vinegar, and bitter as gall, when they found I was to be admitted on equal terms with themselves. When the door was opened, I walked in, on an equal footing with my white fellow-citizens, and from all I could see, I had as much attention paid me by the servants that showed us through the house, as any with a paler skin. As I walked through the building, the statuary did not fall down, the pictures did not leap from their places, the doors did not refuse to open, and the servants did not say, "We don't allow n -- rs in here"!

A happy new year to you, and all the friends of freedom.

Excuse this imperfect scrawl, and believe me to be ever and always yours,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, January 30, 1846

TO WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON

Perth, (Scotland), 27th Jan. 1846

Dear Friend:

For the sake of our righteous cause, I was delighted to see, by an extract copied into the Liberator of 12th Dec. 1845, from the Delaware Republican, that Mr. A. C. C. Thompson, No. 101, Market-street, Wilmington, has undertaken to invalidate my testimony against the slaveholders, whose names I have made prominent in the narrative of my experience while in slavery. 5

Slaveholders and slave-traders never betray greater indiscretion, than when they venture to defend themselves, or their system of plunder, in any other community than a slaveholding one. Slavery has its own standards of morality, humanity, justice, and Christianity. Tried by that standard, it is a system of the greatest kindness to the slave -- sanctioned by the purest morality -- in perfect agreement with justice -- and, of course, not inconsistent with Christianity. But, tried by any other, it is doomed to condemnation. The naked relation of master and slave is one of those monsters of darkness, to whom the light of truth is death! The wise ones among the slaveholders know this, and they studiously avoid doing anything, which, in their judgment, tends to elicit truth. They seem fully to understand, that their safety is in their silence. They may have learned this Wisdom from Junius, who counselled his opponent, Sir William Draper, when defending Lord Granby, never to attract attention to a character, which would only pass without condemnation, when it passed without observation.


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I am now almost too far away to answer this attempted refutation by Mr. Thompson. I fear his article will be forgotten, before you get my reply. I, however, think the whole thing worth reviving, as it is seldom we have so good a case for dissection. In any country but the United States, I might hope to get a hearing through the columns of the paper in which I was attacked. But this would be inconsistent with American usage and magnanimity. It would be folly to expect such a hearing. They might possibly advertise me as a runaway slave, and share the reward of my apprehension; but on no other condition would they allow my reply a place in their columns.

In this, however, I may judge the "Republican" harshly. It may be that, having admitted Mr. Thompson's article, the editor will think it but fair -- Negro though I am -- to allow my reply an insertion.

In replying to Mr. Thompson, I shall proceed as I usually do in preaching the slaveholders' sermon, -- dividing the subject under two general heads, as follows: --

1st. The statement of Mr. Thompson, in confirmation of the truth of my narrative.

2ndly. His denials of its truthfulness.

Under the first, I beg Mr. Thompson to accept my thanks for his full, free and unsolicited testimony, in regard to my identity. There now need be no doubt on that point, however much there might have been before. Your testimony, Mr. Thompson, has settled the question forever. I give you the fullest credit for the deed, saying nothing of the motive. But for you, sir, the pro-slavery people in the North might have persisted, with some show of reason, in representing me as being an imposter -- a free Negro who had never been south of Mason & Dixon's line -- one whom the abolitionists, acting on the jesuitical principle, that the end justifies the means, had educated and sent forth to attract attention to their faltering cause. I am greatly indebted to you, sir, for silencing those truly prejudicial insinuations. I wish I could make you understand the amount of service you have done me. You have completely tripped up the heels of your pro-slavery friends, and laid them flat at my feet. You have done a piece of anti-slavery work, which no anti-slavery man could do. Our cautious and truth-loving people in New England would never have believed this testimony, in proof of my identity, had it been borne by an abolitionist. Not that they really think an abolitionist capable of bearing false witness intentionally; but such persons are thought fanatical, and to look at every thing through a distorted medium. They will believe you -- they will believe a slaveholder. They have, some how or other, imbibed (and I confess strangely enough) the idea that persons such as yourself are dispassionate, impartial and disinterested, and therefore capable of giving a fair representation of things connected with slavery. Now, under these circumstances, your testimony is of the utmost importance. It will serve to give effect to my exposures of slavery, both at home and abroad. I hope I shall not administer to your vanity when I tell you that you seem to have been raised up for this purpose! I came to this land with the highest testimonials from some of the most intelligent and distinguished abolitionists in the United States; yet some here have entertained and expressed doubt as to whether I have ever been a slave. You may


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easily imagine the perplexing and embarrassing nature of my situation, and how anxious I must have been to be relieved from it. You, sir, have relieved me. I now stand before both the American and British public, endorsed by you as being just what I have ever represented myself to be -- to wit, an American slave.

You say, "I knew this recreant slave by the name of Frederick Bailey" (instead of Douglass). Yes, that was my name; and leaving out the term recreant, which savors a little of bitterness, your testimony is direct and perfect -- just what I have long wanted. But you are not yet satisfied. You seem determined to bear the most ample testimony in my favor. You say you knew me when I lived with Mr. Covey. -- "And with most of the persons" mentioned in my narrative, "you are intimately acquainted." This is excellent. Then Mr. Edward Covey is not a creature of my imagination, but really did, and may yet exist. 6

You thus brush away the miserable insinuation of my northern pro-slavery enemies, that I have used fictitious not real names. You say -- "Col. Lloyd was a wealthy planter. Mr. Gore was once an overseer for Col. Lloyd, but is now living near St. Michael's, is respected, and [you] believe he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Thomas Auld is an honorable and worthy member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Covey, too, is a member of the Methodist Church, and all that can be said of him is, that he is a good Christian," &c., &c. Do allow me, once more, to thank you for this triumphant vindication of the truth of my statements; and to show you how highly I value your testimony, I will inform you that I am now publishing a second edition of my narrative in this country, having already disposed of the first. I will insert your article with my reply as an appendix to the edition now in progress. If you find any fault with my frequent thanks, you may find some excuse for me in the fact, that I have serious fears that you will be but poorly thanked by those whose characters you have felt it your duty to defend. I am almost certain they will regard you as running before you were sent, and as having spoken when you should have been silent. Under these trying circumstances, it is evidently the duty of those interested in your welfare to extend to you such words of consolation as may ease, if not remove, the pain of your sad disappointment. But enough of this.

Now, then, to the second part -- or your denials. You are confident I did not write the book; and the reason of your confidence is, that when you knew me, I was an unlearned and rather an ordinary Negro. Well, I have to admit I was rather an ordinary Negro when you knew me, and I do not claim to be a very extraordinary one now. But you knew me under very unfavorable circumstances. It was when I lived with Mr. Covey, the Negro-breaker, and member of the Methodist Church. I had just been living with master Thomas Auld, where I had been reduced by hunger. Master Thomas did not allow me enough to eat. Well, when I lived with Mr. Covey, I was driven so hard, and whipt so often, that my soul was crushed and my spirits broken. I was a mere wreck. The degradation to which I was then subjected, as I now look back to it, seems more like a dream than a horrible reality. I can scarcely realize how I ever passed through it, without quite losing all my moral and intellectual energies. I can easily understand that you sincerely doubt if I wrote the narrative; for if any one had told me, seven years ago, I should ever be able to write such a one, I should


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have doubted as strongly as you now do. You must not judge me now by what I then was -- a change of circumstances has made a surprising change in me. Frederick Douglass, the freeman, is a very different person from Frederick Bailey, (my former name), the slave. I feel myself almost a new man -- freedom has given me new life. I fancy you would scarcely know me. I think I have altered very much in my general appearance, and know I have in my manners. You remember when I used to meet you on the road to St. Michaels, or near Mr. Covey's lane gate, I hardly dared to lift my head, and look up at you. If I should meet you now, amid the free hills of old Scotland, where the ancient "black Douglass" once met his foes, 7 I presume I might summon sufficient fortitude to look you full in the face; and were you to attempt to make a slave of me, it is possible you might find me almost as disagreeable a subject, as was the Douglass to whom I have just referred. Of one thing, I am certain -- you would see a great change in me!

I trust I have now explained away your reason for thinking I did not write the narrative in question.

You next deny the existence of such cruelty in Maryland as I reveal in my narrative; and ask, with truly marvellous simplicity, "could it be possible that charitable, feeling men could murder human beings with as little remorse as the narrative of this infamous libeller would make us believe; and that the laws of Maryland, which operate alike upon black and white, bond and free, could permit such foul murders to pass unnoticed?" "No," you say, "it is impossible." I am not to determine what charitable, feeling men can do; but, to show what Maryland slaveholders actually do, their charitable feeling is to be determined by their deeds, and not their deeds by their charitable feelings. The cowskin makes as deep a gash in my flesh, when wielded by a professed saint, as it does when wielded by an open sinner. The deadly musket does as fatal execution when its trigger is pulled by Austin Gore, the Christian, as when the same is done by Beal Bondly, the infidel. The best way to ascertain what those charitable, feeling men can do, will be to point you to the laws made by them, and which you say operate alike upon the white and the black, the bond and the free. By consulting the statute laws of Maryland, you will find the following: -- "Any slave for rambling in the night, or riding horses in the day time without leave, or running away, may be punished by whipping, cropping, branding in the cheek, or otherwise -- not rendering him unfit for labor." -- p. 337.

Then another: -- "Any slave convicted of petty treason, murder, or wilful burning of dwelling-houses, may be sentenced to have the right hand cut off, to be hanged in the usual way -- his head severed from his body -- the body divided into four quarters, and the head and quarters set up in the most public place where such act was committed." -- page 190.

Now, Mr. Thompson, when you consider with what ease a slave may be convicted of any one or all of these crimes, how bloody and atrocious do these laws appear! Yet, sir, they are but the breath of those pious and charitable feeling men, whom you would defend. I am sure I have recorded in my narrative, nothing so revolting cruel, murderous, and infernal, as may be found in your own statute book.


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You say that the laws of Maryland operate alike upon the white and black, the bond and free. If you mean by this, that the parties named are all equally protected by law, you perpetrate a falsehood as big as that told by President Polk in his inaugural address. 8 It is a notorious fact, even on this side the Atlantic, that a black man cannot testify against a white in any court in Maryland, or any other slave State. If you do not know this, you are more than ordinarily ignorant, and are to be pitied rather than censured. I will not say "that the detection of this falsehood proves all you have said to be false" -- for I wish to avail myself of your testimony, in regard to my identity, -- but I will say, you have made yourself very liable to suspicion.

I will close these remarks by saying, your positive opposition to slavery is fully explained, and will be well understood by anti-slavery men, when you say the evil of the system does not fall upon the slave, but the slaveholder. This is like saying that the evil of being burnt is not felt by the person burnt, but by him who kindles up the fire about him.

Frederick Douglass.

The Liberator, February 27, 1846

Letter to Francis Jackson
After more than fifty lectures in Ireland, Douglass went to Scotland which he found "in a blaze of anti-slavery agitation." Here he and Buffum, who had rejoined him, became involved in the exciting battle to compel the Free Church of Scotland to return contributions made by American slaveholders. The Free Church (an organization based on the right of congregations to control the appointment of their own ministers) had sent a deputation to the United States in 1844 to form an alliance with churches in this country and to solicit funds to build Free Churches and pay Free ministers in Scotland. An outburst of indignation arose from American Abolitionists when the delegation announced its intention of visiting the southern states, but, ignoring these protests, the delegates raised £3,000 from slaveholders, entering into an alliance with southern churches. They justified


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their action by denouncing the Abolitionists as belonging to the tradition of "the infidels and anarchists of the French Revolution," asserting that the slaveholders were "entitled to be regarded as respectable, useful, honoured Christians, living under the power of the truth, labouring faithfully, and serving God in the Gospel of His Son." Most members of the Free Church in Scotland were not impressed either by the diatribe against the American Abolitionists or by the eulogy of the slaveholders, and a loud cry arose that the money collected in the South was tainted and should be returned. Douglass added his voice to this demand, speaking in halls decorated with posters proclaiming the slogan of the day -- "Send Back the Money." 9 [I:64 -- 65]

TO FRANCIS JACKSON

Royal Hotel Dundee, Scotland, 29th Jan. 1846

My dear friend Jackson:

I have been promising myself the pleasure of sending you a line from this side the sea, but have been compelled to deny myself in consequence of immediate and pressing engagements here. If you demand an apology for the liberty I am now about to take, I beg you to do what I feel confident you are seldom inclined to do -- namely, look over the many acts of kindness you have performed toward myself and the people with whom I am identified. These acts justify me in thinking you will not object to having a line from me. From the first day I stepped out of obscurity on the anti-slavery platform at Nantucket to the day I stepped on the deck of the Cambria for these shores you stood by me to encourage, strengthen, and defend me from the assaults of my foes, and the foes of my race. I will not trouble you with any eulogy, for I know such would be disagreeable to your ears, but you must allow me to tell you that your acts are not forgotten. When I was a stranger, rough, unpolished, just from the bellows-handle in Richmond's brass foundry in New Bedford, when I was scarce able to write two sentences of the English language correctly, you took me into your drawing room, welcomed me to your table, put me in your best bed, and treated me in every way as an equal brother at a time when to do so was to expose yourself to the hot displeasure of nearly all your neighbours. These things I still remember, and it affords me great pleasure to speak of them. Pardon me for reminding you of these things now.

I am now as you will perceive by the date of this letter in Scotland, almost every hill, river, mountain and lake of which has been made classic by the heroic deeds of her noble sons. Scarcely a stream but has been poured into song, or a hill that is not associated with some fierce and bloody conflict between liberty and slavery. I had a view the other day of what are called the Grampion mountains that divide eastern Scotland from the west. I was told that here the ancient crowned heads used to meet, contend and struggle in deadly conflict for supremacy, causing those grand old hills to run blood-warming cold steel in the others heart. My soul sickens at the thought, yet I see in myself all those elements of character which were I to yield to their promptings might lead me to deeds as bloody as those at which my soul now sickens and from which I now turn with disgust and shame. Thank God liberty is no longer to be contended for and gained by instruments of death. A higher, a nobler, a mightier than carnal


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weapon is placed into our hands -- one which hurls defiance at all the improvements of carnal warfare. It is the righteous appeal to the understanding and the heart -- with this we can withstand the most fiery of all the darts of perdition itself. I see that America is boasting of her naval, and military power -- let her boast -- she may build her walls and her forts making them proof against ball and bomb. But while there is a single voice in her midst to charge home upon her the duty of emancipation, neither her army nor her navy can protect her from the gnawing of a guilty conscience.

I am travelling in company with my good friend James N. Buffum. Our meetings here have been of the most soul cheering character. The present position of the free Church in Scotland makes it important to expend as much labor here as possible. You know they sent delegates to the United States to raise money to build their churches and to pay their ministers. They succeeded in getting about four thousand pounds sterling. Well, our efforts are directed to making them disgorge their ill-gotten gain -- return it to the Slaveholders. Our rallying cry is "No union with Slaveholders and send back the blood-stained money." Under these rallying cries, old Scotland boils like a pot. I half think if the free Church had for a moment supposed that her conduct would have been arraigned before the Scottish people by thorough Garrisonians as H. C. Wright, James N. Buffum and myself, she would never have taken the money. She thought to get the gold and nobody see her. It was a sad mistake. It would indeed be a grand anti-slavery triumph if we could get her to send back the money. It would break upon the confounded Slaveholders and their [allies] like a clap from the sky. We shall continue to deal our blows upon them -- crying out disgorge -- disgorge -- disgorge your horrid plunder and to this cry the great mass of the people have cried Amen, Amen.

I have disposed of nearly all the first Edition of my Narrative and am publishing a second which will be out about the sixteenth of February. I realize enough from it to meet my expenses. I shall probably remain in Scotland till the middle of March. I shall then proceed to England, as I have not yet delivered a single lecture on Slavery in that country. It is quite an advantage to be a n -- r here. I find I am hardly black enough for British taste, but by keeping my hair as woolly as possible I make out to pass for at least for half a Negro at any rate. My good friend Buffum finds the tables turned upon him here completely -- the people lavish nearly all their attention on the Negro. I can easily understand that such a state of things would greatly embarrass a person with less sense than he, but he stems the current thus far nobly. I have received letters from America expressing fears that I may be spoiled by the attention which I am receiving -- well 'tis possible -- but if I thought it probable, the next steamer should bring me home to encounter again the kicks and cuffs of pro-slavery. Indeed I shall rejoice in the day that shall see me again by your side battling the enemy, and I should rejoice in it though I were to be subjected to all the regulations of color-phobia with which we used [to] encounter. I glory in the fight as well as in the victory. Make my love to all your family.

Gratefully yours,

Frederick Douglass

Anti-Slavery Collection, Boston Public Library


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Letter to Horace Greeley
Pro-slavery journals in the United States went to ridiculous lengths in their demands that the British refuse Douglass a platform, even arguing that the Negro orator was embarrassing the three million Negro people held in slavery. "The slaves," said one journal, "would be very indignant at the conduct of their representative in England could they be made acquainted with his tantrums." There was scarcely a Negro "on a South Carolina rice plantation, or in a Louisiana sugar house, but what, amid all his degradation, would scorn the acts of Frederick Douglass. The man is lowering, in the eyes of English courtesy and intelligence, the character of our slave population." 10 To the charge that he was a menace to his native land because he was "running amuck in greedy-eared Britain against America, its people, its institutions, and even against its peace," Douglass had a ready answer. [I:69]

TO HORACE GREELEY

Glasgow (Scotland), April 15, 1846

My Dear Sir:

I never wrote nor attempted to write a letter for any other than a strictly antislavery press; but being greatly encouraged by your magnanimity, as shown in copying my letter written from Belfast, Ireland, to the Liberator at Boston, I venture to send you a few lines, direct from my pen.

I know not how to thank you for the deep and lively interest you have been pleased to take in the cause of my long neglected race, or in what language to express the gratification I feel in witnessing your unwillingness to lend your aid to "break a bruised reed," by adding your weight to the already insupportable burden to crush, the feeble though virtuous efforts of one who is laboring for the emancipation of a people, who, for two long centuries, have endured, with the utmost patience, a bondage, one hour of which, in the graphic language of the immortal Jefferson, is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose. 11

It is such indications on the part of the press -- which, happily, are multiplying throughout all the land -- that kindle up within me an ardent hope that the curse of slavery will not much longer be permitted to make its iron foot-prints in the lacerated hearts of my sable brethren, or to spread its foul mantle of moral blight, mildew and infamy, over the otherwise noble character of the American people.

I am very sorry to see that some of your immediate neighbors are very much displeased with you, for this act of kindness to myself, and the cause of which I am an humble advocate; and that an attempt has been made, on the part of some of them, by misrepresenting my sayings, motives and objects in this country, to stir up against me the already too bitter antipathy of the American people.


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I am called, by way of reproach, a runaway slave. As if it were a crime -- an unpardonable crime -- for a man to take his inalienable rights! If I had not run away, but settled down in the degrading arms of slavery, and made no effort to gain my freedom, it is quite probable that the learned gentlemen, who now brand me with being a miserable runaway slave, would have adduced the fact in proof of the Negro's adaptation to slavery, and his utter unfitness for freedom! "There's no pleasing some people." But why should Mr. James Brooks feel so much annoyed by the attention shown me in this country, and so anxious to excite against me the hatred and jealousy of the American people? I can very readily understand why a slaveholder -- a trader in slaves -- one who has all his property in human flesh, blinded by ignorance as to his own best interest, and under the dominion of violent passions engendered by the possession of discretionary and irresponsible power over the bodies and souls of his victims -- accustomed to the inhuman sight of men and women sold at auction in company with horses, sheep and swine, and in every way treated more like brutes than human beings -- should repine at my success, and, in his blindness, seek to throw every discouragement and obstacle in the way of the slave's emancipation. But why a New-York editor, born and reared in the State of Maine, far removed from the contaminated and pestilential atmosphere of slavery, should pursue such a course, is not so apparent. I will not, however, stop here to ascertain the cause, but deal with fact; and I cannot better do this than by giving your readers a simple and undisguised statement of the motives and objects of my visit to this country. I feel it but just to myself to do so, since I have been denounced by the New-York Express as a "glibtongued scoundrel," and gravely charged, in its own elegant and dignified language, with "running a muck in greedy-eared Britain against America, its people, its institutions, and even against its peace."

Of the low and vulgar epithets, coupled with the false and somewhat malicious charges, very little need be said. I am used to them. Their force is lost upon me, in the frequency of their application. I was reared where they were in the most common use. They form a large and very important portion of the vocabulary of characters known in the South as plantation "Negro drivers." A slave-holding gentleman would scorn to use them. He leaves them to find their way into the world of sound, through the polluted lips of his hired "Negro driver" -- a being for whom the haughty slaveholder feels incomparably more contempt than he feels toward his slave. And for the best of all reasons -- he knows the slave to be degraded, because he cannot help himself; but a white "Negro driver" is degraded, because of original, ingrained meanness. If I agree with the slaveholders in nothing else, I can say I agree with them in all their burning contempt for a "Negro driver," whether born North or South. Such epithets will have no prejudicial effect against me on the mind of the class of American people, whose good opinion I sincerely desire to cultivate and deserve. And it is to these I would address this brief word of explanation.

The object, then, of my visit to this country is simply to give such an exposition of the degrading influence of slavery upon the master and his abettors as well as upon the slave -- to excite such an intelligent interest on the subject of


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American slavery -- as may react upon that country, and tend to shame her out of her adhesion to a system which all must confess to be at variance with justice, repugnant to Christianity, and at war with her own free institutions. "The head and front of my offending hath this extent, no more." I am one of those who think the best friend of a nation is he who most faithfully rebukes her for her sins -- and he her worst enemy, who, under the specious and popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them. America has much more to fear from such than all the rebukes of the abolitionists at home or abroad.

I am nevertheless aware, that the wisdom of exposing the sins of one nation in the ear of another, has been seriously questioned by good and clear-sighted people, both on this and on your side of the Atlantic. And the thought is not without its weight upon my own mind. I am satisfied that there are many evils which can be best removed by confining our efforts to the immediate locality where such evils exist. This, however, is by no means the case with the system of slavery. It is such a giant sin -- such a monstrous aggregation of iniquity, so hardening to the human heart, so destructive to the moral sense, and so well calculated to beget a character in every one around it favorable to its own continuance, that I feel not only at liberty, but abundantly justified in appealing to the whole world to aid in its removal. Slavery exists in the United States because it is reputable, and it is reputable in the United States because it is not disreputable out of the United States as it ought to be, and it is not so disreputable out of the United States as it ought to be because its character is not so well known as it ought to be. Believing this most firmly, and being a lover of Freedom, a hater of Slavery, one who has felt the bloody whip and worn the galling chain -- sincerely and earnestly longing for the deliverance of my sable brethren from their awful bondage, I am bound to expose its character, whenever and wherever an opportunity is afforded me. I would attract to it the attention of the world. I would fix upon it the piercing eye of insulted Liberty. I would arraign it at the bar of Eternal Justice, and summon the Universe to witness against it. I would concentrate against it the moral and religious sentiment of Christian people of every "class, color and clime." I would have the guilty slaveholder see his condemnation written on every human face, and hear it proclaimed in every human voice, till, overwhelmed with shame and confusion, he resolved to cease his wicked course, undo the heavy burden, and let the oppressed go free.

The people in this country who take the deepest interest in the removal of Slavery from America, and the spread of Liberty throughout the world, are the same who oppose the bloody spirit of war, and are earnestly laboring to spread the blessings of peace all over the globe. I have ever found the abolitionists of this country the warmest friends of America and American institutions. I have frequently seen in their houses, and sometimes occupying the most conspicuous places in their parlors, the American Declaration of Independence.

An aged anti-slavery gentleman in Dublin, with whom I had the honor several times to dine during my stay in that city, has the Declaration of Independence and a number of the portraits of the distinguished founders of the American Republic. He bought them many years ago, in token of his admiration of


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the men and their principles. But, said he, after speaking of the sentiments of the Declaration -- looking up as it hung in a costly frame -- I am often tempted to turn its face to the wall, it is such a palpable contradiction of the spirit and practices of the American people at this time. This instrument was once the watchword of Freedom in this land, and the American people were regarded as the best friends and truest representatives of that sacred cause. But they are not so regarded now. They have allowed the crowned heads of Europe to outstrip them. While Great Britain has emancipated all her slaves, and is laboring to extend the blessings of Liberty wherever her power is felt, it seems, in the language of John Quincy Adams, that the preservation, propagation and perpetuation of slavery is the vital and animating spirit of the American Government. Even Haiti, the black Republic, is not to be spared; the spirit of Freedom, which a sanguinary and ambitious despot could not crush or extinguish, is to be exterminated by the free American Republic, because that spirit is dangerous to slavery. While the people of this country see such facts and indications, as well as the great fact that three millions of people are held in the most abject bondage, deprived of all their God-given rights -- denied by law and public opinion to learn to read the sacred Scriptures, by a people professing the largest liberty and devotion to the religion of Jesus Christ -- while they see this monstrous anomaly, they must look elsewhere for a paragon of civil and religious freedom. Sir, I am earnestly and anxiously laboring to wipe off this foul blot from the otherwise fair fame of the American people, that they may accomplish in behalf of human freedom that which their exalted position among the nations of the earth amply fits them to do. Would they but arise in their moral majesty and might -- repent and purify themselves from this foul crime -- break the galling fetters, and restore the long lost rights to the sable bondmen in their midst -- they would encircle her name with a wreath of imperishable glory. Her light would indeed break forth as the morning -- its brilliant beams would flash across the Atlantic, and illuminate the Eastern world.

I am, dear sir, very gratefully yours,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, June 26, 1846

An Appeal to the British People
While in Edinburgh, Douglass was invited by George Thompson, a leading English Abolitionist, to speak at a mammoth public meeting to be arranged in London under the auspices


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of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which six years before had broken away from the Garrisonians. Well aware that his friends in America would look with disfavor upon his presence at the meeting, Douglass believed that it was his duty to "speak in any meeting where freedom of speech is allowed and where I may do any thing toward exposing the bloody system of slavery." Hence, he accepted the invitation, making it clear that his presence did not signify an endorsement of the doctrines of the organization. 12

On his arrival in London, Douglass learned that a crowded schedule had been planned for him. "Frederick has crammed a year's sensations in the last five days," wrote George Thompson on May 23. "On Monday he poured forth at the Anti-Slavery Meeting. On Tuesday at the Peace Meeting. On Wednesday at the Complete Suffrage Meeting. On Thursday at the Temperance Meeting, and last night he had an audience of 2,500 to hear him for nearly three hours...." At the final meeting held at Finsbury Chapel in his honor, "with the edifice crowded to suffocation," Douglass delivered a devastating attack on American slavery....

At the conclusion of the address, Thompson arose and referred to a conversation in which Douglas spoke of how he missed his wife and children. Thompson proposed a subscription to bring Douglass' family to England. Fifty pounds were contributed while he was talking and thirty more at the end of his appeal. Thompson was certain that "an ample sum" would be raised "to bring them over and make them comfortable while they are among us." 13 [I:66 -- 67]

Reception speech at Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England, May 12, 1846

I feel exceedingly glad of the opportunity now afforded me of presenting the claims of my brethren in bonds in the United States to so many in London and from various parts of Britain who have assembled here on the present occasion. I have nothing to commend me to your consideration in the way of learning, nothing in the way of education, to entitle me to your attention; and you are aware that slavery is a very bad school for rearing teachers of morality and religion. Twenty-one years of my life have been spent in slavery -- personal slavery -- surrounded by degrading influences, such as can exist nowhere beyond the pale of slavery; and it will not be strange, if under such circumstances, I should betray, in what I have to say to you, a deficiency of that refinement which is seldom or ever found, except among persons that have experienced superior advantages to those which I have enjoyed. But I will take it for granted that you know something about the degrading influences of slavery, and that you will not expect great things from me this evening, but simply such facts as I may be able to advance immediately in connection with my own experience of slavery.

Now, what is this system of slavery? This is the subject of my lecture this evening -- what is the character of this institution? I am about to answer this inquiry, what is American slavery? I do this the more readily, since I have found persons in this country who have identified the term slavery with which I think it is not, and in some instances, I have feared, in so doing, have rather (unwittingly, I know) detracted much from the horror with which the term slavery is contemplated. It is common in this country to distinguish every bad thing by the name of slavery. Intemperance is slavery; to be deprived of the right to vote is slavery, says one; to have to work hard is slavery, says another; and I do not


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know but that if we should let them go on, they would say that to eat when we are hungry, to walk when we desire to have exercise, or to minister to our necessities, or have necessities at all, is slavery.

I do not wish for a moment to detract from the horror with which the evil of intemperance is contemplated -- not at all; nor do I wish to throw the slightest obstruction in the way of any political freedom that any class of persons in this country may desire to obtain. But I am here to say that I think the term slavery is sometimes abused by identifying it with that which it is not. Slavery in the United States is the granting of that power by which one man exercises and enforces a right of property in the body and soul of another. The condition of a slave is simply that of the brute beast. He is a piece of property -- a marketable commodity, in the language of the law, to be bought or sold at the will and caprice of the master who claims him to be his property; he is spoken of, thought of, and treated as property. His own good, his conscience, his intellect, his affections, are all set aside by the master. The will and the wishes of the master are the law of the slave. He is as much a piece of property as a horse. If he is fed, he is fed because he is property. If he is clothed, it is with a view to the increase of his value as property. Whatever of comfort is necessary to him for his body or soul that is inconsistent with his being property is carefully wrested from him, not only by public opinion, but by the law of the country. He is carefully deprived of everything that tends in the slightest degree to detract from his value as property. He is deprived of education. God has given him an intellect; the slaveholder declares it shall not be cultivated. If his moral perception leads him in a course contrary to his value as property, the slaveholder declares he shall not exercise it. The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one-sixth of the population of democratic America is denied its privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of its humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage? -- what must be the condition of that people?

I need not lift up the veil by giving you any experience of my own. Every one that can put two ideas together must see the most fearful results from such a state of things as I have just mentioned. If any of these three millions find for themselves companions, and prove themselves honest, upright, virtuous persons to each other, yet in these cases -- few as I am bound to confess they are -- the virtuous live in constant apprehension of being torn asunder by the merciless menstealers that claim them as their property. This is American slavery; no marriage -- no education -- the light of the gospel shut out from the dark mind of the bondman -- and he forbidden by the law to learn to read. If a mother shall teach her children to read, the law in Louisiana proclaims that she may be hanged by the neck. If the father attempt to give his son a knowledge of letters, he may be punished by the whip in one instance, and in another be killed, at the discretion of the court. Three millions of people shut out from the light of knowledge! It is easy for you to conceive the evil that must result from such a state of things.

I now come to the physical evils of slavery. I do not wish to dwell at length upon these, but it seems right to speak of them, not so much to influence your


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minds on this question, as to let the slaveholders of America know that the curtain which conceals their crimes is being lifted abroad; that we are opening the dark cell, and leading the people into the horrible recesses of what they are pleased to call their domestic institution. We want them to know that a knowledge of their whippings, their scourgings, their brandings, their chainings, is not confined to their plantations, but that some Negro of theirs has broken loose from his chains -- has burst through the dark incrustation of slavery, and is now exposing their deeds of deep damnation to the gaze of the Christian people of England.

The slaveholders resort to all kinds of cruelty. If I were disposed, I have matter enough to interest you on this question for five or six evenings, but I will not dwell at length upon these cruelties. Suffice it to say, that all the peculiar modes of torture that were resorted to in the West India islands are resorted to, I believe, even more frequently in the United States of America. Starvation, the bloody whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, cathauling, the cat-o'-nine-tails, the dungeon, the blood-hound, are all in requisition to keep the slave in his condition as a slave in the United States. If any one has a doubt upon this point, I would ask him to read the chapter on slavery in [Charles] Dickens's Notes on America. If any man has a doubt upon it, I have here the "testimony of a thousand witnesses," 14 which I can give at any length, all going to prove the truth of my statement. The blood-hound is regularly trained in the United States, and advertisements are to be found in the southern papers of the Union, from persons advertising themselves as blood-hound trainers, and offering to hunt down slaves at fifteen dollars a piece, recommending their hounds as the fleetest in the neighborhood, never known to fail. Advertisements are from time to time inserted, stating that slaves have escaped with iron collars about their necks, with bands of iron about their feet, marked with the lash, branded with red-hot irons, the initials of their master's name burned into their flesh; and their masters advertise the fact of their being thus branded with their own signature, thereby proving to the world that, however damning it may appear to non-slaveholders, such practices are not regarded discreditable among the slaveholders themselves. Why, I believe if a man should brand his horse in this country -- burn the initials of his name into any of his cattle, and publish the ferocious deed here -- that the united execrations of Christians in Britain would descend upon him. Yet, in the United States, human beings are thus branded. As Whittier says --


... Our countrymen in chains,
The whip on woman's shrinking flesh,
Our soil yet reddening with the stains
Caught from her scourgings warm and fresh.

The slave-dealer boldly publishes his infamous acts to the world. Of all things that have been said of slavery to which exception has been taken by slaveholders, this, the charge of cruelty, stands foremost, and yet there is no charge capable of clearer demonstration than that of the most barbarous inhumanity on the part of the slaveholders toward their slaves. And all this is necessary; it is necessary to resort to these cruelties, in order to make the slave a slave, and to keep


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him a slave. Why, my experience all goes to prove the truth of what you will call a marvelous proposition, that the better you treat a slave, the more you destroy his value as a slave, and enhance the probability of his eluding the grasp of the slaveholder; the more kindly you treat him, the more wretched you make him, while you keep him in the condition of a slave. My experience, I say, confirms the truth of this proposition. When I was treated exceedingly ill; when my back was being scourged daily; when I was whipped within an inch of my life -- life was all I cared for. "Spare my life," was my continual prayer. When I was looking for the blow about to be inflicted upon my head, I was not thinking of my liberty; it was my life. But, as soon as the blow was not to be feared, then came the longing for liberty. If a slave has a bad master, his ambition is to get a better; when he gets a better, he aspires to have the best; and when he gets the best, he aspires to be his own master. But the slave must be brutalized to keep him as a slave. The slaveholder feels this necessity. I admit this necessity. If it be right to hold slaves at all, it is right to hold them in the only way in which they can be held; and this can be done only by shutting out the light of education from their minds, and brutalizing their persons.

The whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the blood-hound, the stocks, and all the other bloody paraphernalia of the slave system are indispensably necessary to the relation of master and slave. The slave must be subjected to these, or he ceases to be a slave. Let him know that the whip is burned; that the fetters have been turned to some useful and profitable employment; that the chain is no longer for his limbs; that the blood-hound is no longer to be put upon his track; that his master's authority over him is no longer to be enforced by taking his life -- and immediately he walks out from the house of bondage and asserts his freedom as a man. The slaveholder finds it necessary to have these implements to keep the slave in bondage; finds it necessary to be able to say, "Unless you do so and so; unless you do as I bid you -- I will take away your life!"

Some of the most awful scenes of cruelty are constantly taking place in the middle states of the Union. We have in those states what are called the slave-breeding states. Allow me to speak plainly. Although it is harrowing to your feeling, it is necessary that the facts of the case should be stated. We have in the United States slave-breeding states. The very state from which the minister from our court to yours comes is one of these states -- Maryland, where men, women, and children are reared for the market, just as horses, sheep, and swine are raised for the market. Slave-rearing is there looked upon as a legitimate trade; the law sanctions it, public opinion upholds it, the church does not condemn it. It goes on in all its bloody horrors, sustained by the auctioneer's block. If you would see the cruelties of this system, hear the following narrative. Not long since the following scene occurred. A slave-woman and a slave-man had united themselves as man and wife in the absence of any law to protect them as man and wife. They had lived together by the permission, not by right, of their master, and they had reared a family. The master found it expedient, and for his interest, to sell them. He did not ask them their wishes in regard to the matter at all; they were not consulted. The man and woman were brought to the auctioneer's block, under the sound of the hammer. The cry was raised, "Here goes;


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who bids cash?" Think of it -- a man and wife to be sold! The woman was placed on the auctioneer's block; her limbs, as is customary, were brutally exposed to the purchasers, who examined her with all the freedom with which they would examine a horse. There stood the husband, powerless; no right to his wife; the master's right preeminent. She was sold. He was next brought to the auctioneer's block. His eyes followed his wife in the distance; and he looked beseechingly, imploringly, to the man that had bought his wife to buy him also. But he was at length bid off to another person. He was about to be separated forever from her whom he loved. No word of his, no work of his, could save him from this separation. He asked permission of his new master to go and take the hand of his wife at parting. It was denied him. In the agony of his soul he rushed from the man who had just bought him, that he might take a farewell of his wife; but his way was obstructed, he was struck over the head with a loaded whip, and was held for a moment; but his agony was too great. When he was let go, he fell a corpse at the feet of his master. His heart was broken. Such scenes are the every-day fruits of American slavery.

Some two years since, the Hon. Seth M. Gates, an anti-slavery gentleman of the state of New York, a representative in the congress of the United States, told me he saw with his own eyes the following circumstance. In the national District of Columbia, over which the star-spangled emblem is constantly waving, where orators are ever holding forth on the subject of American liberty, American democracy, American republicanism, there are two slave prisons. When going across a bridge, leading to one of these prisons, he saw a young woman run out, bare-footed and bare-headed, and with very little clothing on. She was running with all speed to the bridge he was approaching. His eye was fixed upon her, and he stopped to see what was the matter. He had not paused long before he saw three men run out after her. He now knew what the nature of the case was: a slave escaping from her chains -- a young woman, a sister -- escaping from the bondage in which she had been held. She made her way to the bridge, but had not reached it, ere from the Virginia side there came two slaveholders. As soon as they saw them, her pursuers called out, "Stop her!" True to their Virginian instincts, they came to the rescue of their brother kidnappers across the bridge. The poor girl now saw that there was no chance for her. It was a trying time. She knew if she went back, she must be a slave forever -- she must be dragged down to the scenes of pollution which the slaveholders continually provide for most of the poor, sinking, wretched young women whom they call their property. She formed her resolution; and just as those who were about to take her were going to put hands upon her, to drag her back, she leaped over the balustrades of the bridge, and down she went to rise no more. She chose death, rather than to go back into the hands of those Christian slaveholders from whom she had escaped.

Can it be possible that such things as these exist in the United States? Are not these the exceptions? Are any such scenes as this general? Are not such deeds condemned by the law and denounced by public opinion? Let me read you a few of the laws of the slaveholding states of America. I think no better exposure of slavery can be made than is made by the laws of the states in which slavery exists. I prefer reading the laws to making my statement in confirmation of what I


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have said myself; for the slaveholders cannot object to this testimony, since it is the calm, the cool, the deliberate enactment of their wisest heads, of their most clear-sighted, their own constituted representatives. "If more than seven slaves together are found in any road without a white person, twenty lashes a piece; for visiting a plantation without a written pass, ten lashes; for letting loose a boat from where it is made fast, thirty-nine lashes for the first offense; and for the second shall have cut off from his head one ear; for keeping or carrying a club, thirty-nine lashes; for having any article for sale, without a ticket from his master, ten lashes; for traveling in any other than the most usual and accustomed road, when going alone to any place, forty lashes; for traveling in the night without a pass, forty lashes."

I am afraid you do not understand the awful character of these lashes. You must bring it before your mind. A human being in a perfect state of nudity, tied hand and foot to a stake, and a strong man standing behind with a heavy whip, knotted at the end, each blow cutting into the flesh, and leaving the warm blood dripping to the feet; and for these trifles. For being found in another person's Negro-quarters, forty lashes; for hunting with dogs in the woods, thirty lashes; for being on horseback without the written permission of his master, twenty-five lashes; for riding or going abroad in the night, or riding horses in the day time, without leave, a slave may be whipped, cropped, or branded in the cheek with the letter R, or otherwise punished, such punishment not extending to life, or so as to render him unfit for labor. The laws referred to may be found by consulting Brevard's Digest; Haywood's Manual; Virginia Revised Code; Prince's Digest; Missouri Laws; Mississippi Revised Code. A man, for going to visit his brethren, without the permission of his master -- and in many instances he may not have that permission; his master, from caprice or other reasons, may not be willing to allow it -- may be caught on his way, dragged to a post, the branding-iron heated, and the name of his master or the letter R branded into his cheek or on his forehead.

They treat slaves thus, on the principle that they must punish for light offenses in order to prevent the commission of larger ones. I wish you to mark that in the single state of Virginia there are seventy-one crimes for which a colored man may be executed; while there are only three of these crimes which, when committed by a white man, will subject him to that punishment. There are many of these crimes which if the white man did not commit he would be regarded as a scoundrel and a coward. In the state of Maryland there is a law to this effect: that if a slave shall strike his master, he may be hanged, his head severed from his body, his body quartered, and his head and quarters set up in the most prominent places in the neighborhood. If a colored woman, in the defense of her own virtue, in defense of her own person, should shield herself from the brutal attacks of her tyrannical master, or make the slightest resistance, she may be killed on the spot. No law whatever will bring the guilty man to justice for the crime.

But you will ask me, can these things be possible in a land professing Christianity? Yes, they are so; and this is not the worst. No, a darker feature is yet to be presented than the mere existence of these facts. I have to inform you that the religion of the southern states, at this time, is the great supporter, the great sanctioner


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of the bloody atrocities to which I have referred. While America is printing tracts and Bibles; sending missionaries abroad to convert the heathen; expending her money in various ways for the promotion of the Gospel in foreign lands -- the slave not only lies forgotten, uncared for, but is trampled under foot by the very churches of the land. What have we in America? Why, we have slavery made part of the religion of the land. Yes, the pulpit there stands up as the great defender of this cursed institution, as it is called. Ministers of religion come forward and torture the hallowed pages of inspired wisdom to sanction the bloody deed. They stand forth as the foremost, the strongest defenders of this "institution."

As a proof of this, I need not do more than state the general fact, that slavery has existed under the droppings of the sanctuary of the south for the last two hundred years, and there has not been any war between the religion and the slavery of the south. Whips, chains, gags, and thumb-screws have all lain under the droppings of the sanctuary, and instead of rusting from off the limbs of the bondman, those droppings have served to preserve them in all their strength. Instead of preaching the Gospel against this tyranny, rebuke, and wrong, ministers of religion have sought, by all and every means, to throw in the background whatever in the Bible could be construed into opposition to slavery, and to bring forward that which they could torture into its support.

This I conceive to be the darkest feature of slavery, and the most difficult to attack, because it is identified with religion, and exposes those who denounce it to the charge of infidelity. Yes, those with whom I have been laboring, namely, the old organization anti-slavery society of America, have been again and again stigmatized as infidels, and for what reason? Why, solely in consequence of the faithfulness of their attacks upon the slaveholding religion of the southern states, and the northern religion that sympathizes with it. I have found it difficult to speak on this matter without persons coming forward and saying, "Douglass, are you not afraid of injuring the cause of Christ? You do not desire to do so, we know; but are you not undermining religion?" This has been said to me again and again, even since I came to this country, but I cannot be induced to leave off these exposures. I love the religion of our blessed Savior. I love that religion that comes from above, in the "wisdom of God, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." I love that religion that sends its votaries to bind up the wounds of him that has fallen among thieves. I love that religion that makes it the duty of its disciples to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction. I love that religion that is based upon the glorious principle, of love to God and love to man; which makes its followers do unto others as they themselves would be done by. If you demand liberty to yourself, it says, grant it to your neighbors. If you claim a right to think for yourself, it says, allow your neighbors the same right. If you claim to act for yourself, it says, allow your neighbors the same right. It is because I love this religion that I hate the slaveholding, the woman-whipping, the mind-darkening, the soul-destroying religion that exists in the southern states of America. It is because I regard the one as good, and pure, and holy, that I cannot but regard the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. Loving the one I must hate the other; holding to the one I must reject the other.


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I may be asked why I am so anxious to bring this subject before the British public -- why I do not confine my efforts to the United States? My answer is, first, that slavery is the common enemy of mankind, and all mankind should be made acquainted with its abominable character. My next answer is, that the slave is a man, and, as such, is entitled to your sympathy as a brother. All the feelings, all the susceptibilities, all the capacities, which you have he has. He is a part of the human family. He has been the prey -- the common prey -- of christendom for the last three hundred years, and it is but right, it is but just, it is but proper, that his wrongs should be known throughout the world.

I have another reason for bringing this matter before the British public, and it is this: slavery is a system of wrong, so blinding to all around, so hardening to the heart, so corrupting to the morals, so deleterious to religion, so sapping to all the principles of justice in its immediate vicinity, that the community surrounding it lacks the moral stamina necessary to its removal. It is a system of such gigantic evil, so strong, so overwhelming in its power, that no one nation is equal to its removal. It requires the humanity of Christianity, the morality of the world to remove it. Hence, I call upon the people of Britain to look at this matter, and to exert the influence I am about to show they possess, for the removal of slavery from America. I can appeal to them, as strongly by their regard for the slaveholder as for the slave, to labor in this cause. I am here, because you have an influence on America that no other nation can have. You have been drawn together by the power of steam to a marvelous extent; the distance between London and Boston is now reduced to some twelve or fourteen days, so that the denunciations against slavery, uttered in London this week, may be heard in a fortnight in the streets of Boston, and reverberating amidst the hills of Massachusetts. There is nothing said here against slavery that will not be recorded in the United States.

I am here, also, because the slaveholders do not want me to be here; they would rather that I were not here. I have adopted a maxim laid down by Napoleon, never to occupy ground which the enemy would like me to occupy. The slaveholders would much rather have me, if I will denounce slavery, denounce it in the northern states, where their friends and supporters are, who will stand by and mob me for denouncing it. They feel something as the man felt, when he uttered his prayer, in which he made out a most horrible case for himself, and one of his neighbors touched him and said, "My friend, I always had the opinion of you that you have now expressed for yourself -- that you are a very great sinner." Coming from himself, it was all very well, but coming from a stranger it was rather cutting.

The slaveholders felt that when slavery was denounced among themselves, it was not so bad; but let one of the slaves get loose, let him summon the people of Britain, and make known to them the conduct of the slaveholders toward their slaves, and it cuts them to the quick, and produces a sensation such as would be produced by nothing else. The power I exert now is something like the power that is exerted by the man at the end of the lever; my influence now is just in proportion to the distance that I am from the United States. My exposure of slavery abroad will tell more upon the hearts and consciences of slaveholders than if I


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was attacking them in America; for almost every paper that I now receive from the United States, comes teeming with statements about this fugitive Negro, calling him a "glib-tongued scoundrel," and saying that he is running out against the institutions and people of America.

I deny the charge that I am saying a word against the institutions of America, or the people, as such. What I have to say is against slavery and slaveholders. I feel at liberty to speak on this subject. I have on my back the marks of the lash; I have four sisters and one brother now under the galling chain. I feel it my duty to cry aloud and spare not. I am not averse to having the good opinion of my fellow-creatures. I am not averse to being kindly regarded by all men; but I am bound, even at the hazard of making a large class of religionists in this country hate me, oppose me, and malign me as they have done -- I am bound by the prayers, and tears, and entreaties of three millions of kneeling bondsmen, to have no compromise with men who are in any shape or form connected with the slaveholders of America.

I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is death. Expose slavery, and it dies. Light is to slavery what the heat of the sun is to the root of a tree; it must die under it. All the slaveholder asks of me is silence. He does not ask me to go abroad and preach in favor of slavery; he does not ask any one to do that. He would not say that slavery is a good thing, but the best under the circumstances. The slaveholders want total darkness on the subject. They want the hatchway shut down, that the monster may crawl in his den of darkness, crushing human hopes, and happiness, destroying the bondman at will, and having no one to reprove or rebuke him. Slavery shrinks from the light; it hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its deed should be reproved. To tear off the mask from this abominable system, to expose it to the light of heaven, aye, to the heat of the sun, that it may burn and wither it out of existence, is my object in coming to this country. I want the slaveholder surrounded, as by a wall of anti-slavery fire, so that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system glaring down in letters of light. I want him to feel that he has no sympathy in England, Scotland, or Ireland; that he has none in Canada, none in Mexico, none among the poor wild Indians; that the voice of the civilized, aye, and savage world, is against him. I would have condemnation blaze down upon him in every direction, till, stunned and overwhelmed with shame and confusion, he is compelled to let go the grasp he holds upon the persons of his victims, and restore them to their long-lost rights.

Report of a public meeting held at Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, to receive Frederick Douglass, the American slave, on Friday, May 12, 1846. London, 1846


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Letter to Samuel Hanson Cox, D.D.
In the summer of 1846 Douglass was happy to have William Lloyd Garrison with him in England. The Abolitionist leader had been invited by the Glasgow Emancipation Society in the belief that his influence would be decisive in the campaign to compel the Free Church to return the gift to the southern clergy. On July 31 Garrison arrived at Liverpool and a few days later he and Douglass began a journey from one part of England to the other -- reorganizing the enemies of slavery in Britain and denouncing the slaveholders and their apologists in America. On August 4, they attended the opening session of the World Temperance Convention held at Covent Garden Theater in London. Neither was an official delegate, but they were "politely furnished... with a ticket" admitting them as members of the convention.

Before the convention adjourned, Douglass had stirred up a hornet's nest with a speech attacking the official American temperance movement.... The American delegates were furious. Reverend Kirk, a Boston clergyman, charged that Douglass had given a false picture of the temperance societies in the United States. Reverend Samuel Hanson Cox of Brooklyn, New York delivered a broadside against Douglass in a long, angry letter to the New York Evangelist.

Douglass' reply to Reverend Cox was extremely effective and resulted in making friends for himself and the Abolition cause in England and in his own country.... [The] conflict... revealed to a wide public on both sides of the Atlantic that in the North as well as the South there was an indifferent, if not pro-slavery, element among the clergy who did not want the evils of slavery exposed to the intelligence of the world. It also showed how deeply the pro-slavery forces feared the influence of the brilliant fugitive slave and how eagerly they sought to silence him. 15 [I:67-69]

TO SAMUEL HANSON COX, D.D.

Salisbury Road, Edinburgh, October 30, 1846

Sir:

I have two objects in addressing you at this time. The first is, to deny certain charges, and to reply to certain injurious statements, recently made by yourself, respecting my conduct at a meeting of the "World's Temperance Convention," held in Covent Garden Theatre, London, in the month of August last. My second object will be to review so much of your course as relates to the anti-slavery question, during your recent tour through Great Britain and a part of Ireland. There are times when it would evince a ridiculous sensibility to the good or evil opinions of men, and when it would be a wasteful expenditure of thought, time and strength, for one in my circumstances to reply to attacks made by those who


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hate me, more bitterly than the cause of which I am an humble advocate. While it is all quite true, it is equally true, that there are times when it is quite proper to make such replies; and especially so, when to defend one's self is to defend great and vital principles, the vindication of which is essential to the triumph of righteousness throughout the world.

Sir, I deem it neither arrogant nor presumptuous to assume to represent three millions of my brethren, who are, while I am penning these words, in chains and slavery on the American soil, the boasted land of liberty and light. I have been one with them in their sorrow and suffering -- one with them in their ignorance and degradation -- one with them under a burning sun and the slavedriver's bloody lash -- and am at this moment freed from those horrible inflictions only because the laws of England are commensurate with freedom, and do not permit the American man-stealer, whose Christianity you endorse, to lay his foul clutch upon me, while upon British soil. Being thus so completely identified with the slaves, I may assume that an attack upon me is an attack upon them -- and especially so, when the attack is obviously made, as in the present instance, with a view to injure me in the advocacy of their cause. I am resolved that their cause shall not suffer through any misrepresentations of my conduct, which evil-minded men, in high or low places, may resort to, while I have the ability to set myself right before the public. As much as I hate American slavery, and as much as I abominate the infernal spirit which in that land seems to pervade both Church and State, there are bright spots there which I love, and a large and greatly increasing population, whose good opinion I highly value, and which I am determined never to forfeit, while it can be maintained consistently with truth and justice.

Sir, in replying to you, and in singling out the conduct of one of your age, reputation and learning, for public animadversion, I should, in most cases, deem an apology necessary -- I should approach such an one with great delicacy and guardedness of language. But, in this instance, I feel entirely relieved from all such necessity. The obligations of courtesy, which I should be otherwise forward to discharge to persons of your age and standing, I am absolved from by your obviously bitter and malignant attack. I come, therefore, without any further hesitancy to the subject.

In a letter from London to the New-York Evangelist, describing the great meeting at Covent Garden Theatre, you say:

"They all advocated the same cause, showed a glorious unity of thought and feeling, and the effect was constantly raised -- the moral scene was superb and glorious -- when Frederick Douglass, the colored abolition agitator and ultraist, came to the platform, and so spoke a la mode, as to ruin the influence, almost, of all that preceded! He lugged in anti-slavery or abolition, no doubt prompted to it by some of the politic ones, who can use him to do what they would not themselves adventure to do in person. He is supposed to have been well paid for the abomination.

"What a perversion, an abuse, an iniquity against the law of reciprocal righteousness, to call thousands together to get them, some certain ones, to seem conspicuous and devoted for one sole and grand object, and then, all at once, with obliquity, open an avalanche on them for some imputed evil or monstrosity, for which, whatever be the wound or injury inflicted, they were both too fatigued and


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too hurried with surprise, and too straitened for time to be properly prepared. I say it is a trick of meanness! It is abominable!

"On this occasion Mr. Douglass allowed himself to denounce America and all its temperance societies together, and a grinding community of the enemies of his people; said evil, with no alloy of good, concerning the whole of us; was perfectly indiscriminate in his severities, talked of the American delegates, and to them, as if he had been our schoolmaster, and we his docile and devoted pupils; and launched his revengeful missiles at our country, without one palliative, and as if not a Christian or a true anti-slavery man lived in the whole of the United States. The fact is, the man has been petted, and flattered, and used, and paid by certain abolitionists not unknown to us, of the ne plus ultra stamp, till he forgets himself; and though he may gratify his own impulses and those of old Adam in others, yet sure I am that all this is just the way to ruin his influence, to defeat his object, and to do mischief, not good, to the very cause he professes to love. With the single exception of one cold-hearted parricide, whose character I abhor, and whom I will not name, and who has, I fear, no feeling of true patriotism or piety within him, all the delegates from our country were together wounded and indignant. No wonder at it! I write freely. It was not done in a corner. It was inspired, I believe, from beneath, and not from above. It was adapted to rekindle, on both sides of the Atlantic, the flames of national exasperation and war. And this is the game which Mr. Frederick Douglass and his silly patrons are playing in England and in Scotland, and wherever they can find `some mischief still for idle hands to do'! I came here his sympathizing friend -- I am so no more, as I more know him.

"My own opinion is increasingly that this abominable spirit must be exorcised out of England and America, before any substantial good can be effected for the cause of the slave. It is adapted only to make bad worse, and to inflame the passions of indignant millions to an incurable resentment. None but an ignoramus or a mad man could think that this way was that of the inspired apostles of the Son of God. It may gratify the feelings of a self-deceived and malignant few, but it will do no good in any direction -- least of all to the poor slave! It is short-sighted, impulsive, partisan, reckless, and tending only to sanguinary ends. None of this, with men of sense and principle.

"We all wanted to reply, but it was too late; the whole theatre seemed taken with the spirit of the Ephesian uproar; they were furious and boisterous in the extreme; and Mr. Kirk could hardly obtain a moment, though many were desirous in his behalf, to say a few words, as he did, very calm and properly, that the cause of Temperance was not at all responsible for slavery, and had no connexion with it. There were some sly agencies behind the scenes -- we know!"

Now, the motive for representing, in this connexion, "the effect constantly raised," the "moral scene sublime and glorious," is very apparent. It is obviously not so much to do justice to the scene, as to magnify my assumed offence. You have drawn an exceedingly beautiful picture, that you might represent me as marring and defacing its beauty, in the hope thereby to kindle against me the fury of its admirers.

"Frederick Douglass, the colored abolitionist and ultraist, came to the platform." Well, sir, what if I did come to the platform? How did I come to it? Did I come with, or without, the consent of the meeting? Had your love of truth equalled your desire to cover me with odium, you would have said that, after loud and repeated calls from the audience, and a very pressing invitation from the chairman, "Frederick Douglass came to the platform." But, sir, this would


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not have served your purpose -- that being to make me out an intruder, one without the wedding garment, fit to be cast out among the unbidden and unprepared. This might do very well in America, where for a Negro to stand upon a temperance platform, on terms of perfect equality with white persons, it would be regarded as an insolent assumption, not to be borne with; but, sir, it is scarcely necessary to say, that it will not serve your purpose in England. It is now pretty well known throughout the world, that color is no crime in England, and it is becoming almost equally known, that color is treated as a crime in America. "Frederick Douglass, the colored abolition agitator and ultraist, came to the platform!" Shocking! How could democratic Americans sit calmly by, and behold such a flagrant violation of one of the most cherished American customs -- this most unnatural amalgamation! Was it not an aggravating and intolerable insult, to allow a Negro to stand upon a platform, on terms of perfect equality with pure white American gentlemen! Monarchical England should be taught better manners; she should know that democratic America has the sole prerogative of deciding what shall be the social and civil position of the colored race. But, sarcasm aside, Sir, you claim to be a Christian, a philanthropist, and an abolitionist. Were you truly entitled to any one of these names, you would have been delighted at seeing one of Africa's despised children cordially received, and warmly welcomed to a world's temperance platform, and in every way treated as a man and a brother. But the truth probably is, that you felt both yourself and your country severely rebuked by my presence there; and, besides this, it was undoubtedly painful to you to be placed on the same platform, on a level with a Negro, a fugitive slave. I do not assert this positively -- it may not be quite true. But if it be true, I sincerely pity your littleness of soul.

You sneeringly call me an "abolition agitator and ultraist." Sir, I regard this as a compliment, though you intend it as a condemnation. My only fear is, that I am unworthy of those epithets. To be an abolition agitator is simply to be one who dares to think for himself -- who goes beyond the mass of mankind in promoting the cause of righteousness -- who honestly and earnestly speaks out his soul's conviction, regardless of the smiles or frowns of men -- leaving the pure flame of truth to burn up whatever hay, wood and stubble it may find in its way. To be such an one is the deepest and sincerest wish of my heart. It is a part of my daily prayer to God, that He will raise up and send forth more to unmask a pro-slavery church, and to rebuke a man-stealing ministry -- to rock the land with agitation, and give America no peace till she repent, and be thoroughly purged of this monstrous iniquity. While Heaven lends me health and strength, and intellectual ability, I shall devote myself to this agitation; and I believe that, by so acting, I shall secure the smiles of an approving God, and the grateful approbation of my down-trodden and long abused fellow-countrymen. With these on my side, of course I ought not to be disturbed by your displeasure; nor am I disturbed. I speak now in vindication of my cause, caring very little for your good or ill opinion.

You say I spoke "so as to ruin the influence of all that had preceded"! My speech, then, must have been very powerful; for I had been preceded by yourself, and some ten or twelve others, all powerful advocates of the Temperance cause,


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some of them the most so of any I ever heard. But I half fear my speech was not so powerful as you seem to imagine. It is barely possible that you have fallen into a mistake, quite common to persons of your turn of mind, -- that of confounding your own pride with the cause which you may happen to plead. I think you will upon reflection confess, that I have now hit upon a happy solution of the difficulty. As I look back to that occasion, I remember certain facts, which seem to confirm me in this view of the case. You had eulogized in no measured or qualified terms, America and American Temperance Societies; and in this, your co-delegates were not a whit behind you. Is it not possible that the applause, following each brilliant climax of your fulsome panegyric, made you feel the moral effect raised, and the scene superb and glorious? I am not unaware of the effect of such demonstrations: it is very intoxicating, very inflating. Now, Sir, I should be very sorry, and would make any amends within my power, if I supposed I had really committed, the "abomination" of which you accuse me. The Temperance cause is dear to me. I love it for myself, and for the black man, as well as for the white man. I have labored, both in England and America, to promote the cause, and am ready still to labor; and I should grieve to think of any act of mine, which would inflict the slightest injury upon the cause. But I am satisfied that no such injury was inflicted. No, Sir, it was not the poor bloated drunkard, who was "ruined" by my speech, but your own bloated pride, as I shall presently show -- as I mean to take up your letter in the order in which it is written, and reply to each part of it.

You say I lugged in anti-slavery, or abolition. Of course, you meant by this to produce the impression, that I introduced the subject illegitimately. If such were your intention, it is an impression utterly at variance with the truth. I said nothing, on the occasion referred to, which in fairness can be construed into an outrage upon propriety, or something foreign to the temperance platform -- and especially a "world's Temperance platform." The meeting at Covent Garden was not a white temperance meeting, such as are held in the United States, but a "world's temperance meeting," embracing the black as well as the white part of the creation -- practically carrying out the scriptural declaration, that "God has made of one blood, all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth." It was a meeting for promoting temperance throughout the world. All nations had a right to be represented there; and each speaker had a right to make known to that body, the peculiar difficulties which lay in the way of the temperance reformation, in his own particular locality. In that Convention, and upon that platform, I was the recognized representative of the colored population of the United States; and to their cause I was bound to be faithful. It would have been quite easy for me to have made a speech upon the general question of temperance, carefully excluding all reference to my enslaved, neglected and persecuted brethren in America, and thereby secured your applause; -- but to have pursued such a course, would have been selling my birthright for a mess of pottage, -- would have been to play the part of Judas, a part which even you profess to loathe and detest. Sir, let me explain the motive which animated me, in speaking as I did at Covent Garden Theatre. As I stood upon that platform, and surveyed the deep depression of the colored people of America, and the treatment uniformly adopted, by white temperance societies, towards them -- the impediments and absolute barriers thrown in the way of their moral and social


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improvement, by American slavery, and by an inveterate prejudice against them, on account of their color -- and beheld them in rags and wretchedness, in fetters and chains, left to be devoured by intemperance and kindred vices -- and slavery like a very demon, standing directly in the way of their reformation, as with a drawn sword, ready to smite down any who might approach for their deliverance -- and found myself in a position where I could rebuke this evil spirit, where my words would be borne to the shores of America, upon the enthusiastic shouts of congregated thousands -- I deemed it my duty to embrace the opportunity. In the language of John Knox, "I was in the place where I was demanded of conscience to speak the truth -- and the truth I did speak -- impugn it who so list." But, in so doing, I spoke perfectly in order, and in such a manner as no one, having a sincere interest in the cause of Temperance, could take offence at -- as I shall show by reporting, in another part of this letter my speech as delivered on that occasion.

"He was, no doubt, prompted to do it by some of the politic ones, who can use him to do what they themselves would not adventure to do in person." The right or wrong of obeying the promptings of another depends upon the character of the thing to be done. If the thing be right, I should do it, no matter by whom prompted; if wrong, I should refrain from it, no matter by whom commanded. In the present instance, I was prompted by no one -- I acted entirely upon my own responsibility. If, therefore, blame is to fall anywhere, it should fall upon me.

"He is supposed to have been well paid for the abomination." This, Sir, is a cowardly way of stating your own conjecture. I should be pleased to have you tell me, what harm there is in being well paid! Is not the laborer worthy of his hire? Do you preach without pay? Were you not paid by those who sent you to represent them in the World's Temperance Convention? There is not the slightest doubt that you were paid -- and well paid. The only difference between us, in the matter of pay, is simply this -- you were paid, and I was not. I can with a clear conscience affirm that, so far from having been well paid, as you supposed, I never received a single farthing for my attendance -- or for any word which I uttered on the occasion referred to -- while you were in all probability well supported, "well paid," for all you did during your attendance. My visit to London was at my own cost. I mention this, not because I blame you for taking pay, or because I regard as specially meritorious my attending the meeting without pay; for I should probably have taken pay as readily as you did, had it been offered; but it was not offered, and therefore I got none.

You stigmatize my speech as an "abomination"; but you take good care to suppress every word of the speech itself. There can be but one motive for this, and that motive obviously is, because there was nothing in the speech which, standing alone, would inspire others with the bitter malignity against me, which unhappily rankles in your own bosom.

Now, Sir, to show the public how much reliance ought to be placed on your statements, and what estimate they should form of your love of truth and Christian candor, I will give the substance of my speech at Covent Garden Theatre, and the circumstances attending and growing out of its delivery. As "the thing was not done in a corner," I can with safety appeal to the FIVE THOUSAND that heard the speech, for the substantial correctness of my report of it. It was as follows: --


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Mr. Chairman -- Ladies and Gentlemen -- I am not a delegate to this Convention. Those who would have been most likely to elect me as a delegate, could not, because they are to-night held in the most abject slavery in the United States. Sir, I regret that I cannot fully unite with the American delegates, in their patriotic eulogies of America, and American Temperance Societies. I cannot do so, for this good reason -- there are, at this moment, three millions of the American population, by slavery and prejudice, placed entirely beyond the pale of American Temperance Societies. The three million slaves are completely excluded by slavery -- and four hundred thousand free colored people are almost as completely excluded by an inveterate prejudice against them, on account of their color. [Cries of shame! shame!]

I do not say these things to wound the feelings of the American delegates. I simply mention them in their presence, and before this audience, that, seeing how you regard this hatred and neglect of the colored people, they may be induced, on their return home, to enlarge the field of their Temperance operations, and embrace within the scope of their influence, my long neglected race -- [great cheering and some confusion on the platform]. Sir, to give you some idea of the difficulties and obstacles in the way of the Temperance reformation of the colored population in the United States, allow me to state a few facts. About the year 1840, a few intelligent, sober and benevolent colored gentlemen in Philadelphia, being acquainted with the appalling ravages of intemperance among a numerous class of colored people in that city, and finding themselves neglected and excluded from white societies, organized societies among themselves -- appointed committees -- sent out agents -- built temperance halls, and were earnestly and successfully rescuing many from the fangs of intemperance.

The cause went nobly on till the 1st of August, 1842, the day when England gave liberty to eight hundred thousand souls in the West Indies. The colored Temperance Societies selected this day to march in procession through the city, in the hope that such a demonstration would have the effect of bringing others into their ranks. They formed their procession, unfurled their teetotal banners, and proceeded to the accomplishment of their purpose. It was a delightful sight. But, Sir, they had not proceeded down two streets, before they were brutally assailed by a ruthless mob -- their banner was torn down, and trampled in the dust -- their ranks broken up, their persons beaten, and pelted with stones and brickbats. One of their churches was burned to the ground, and their best temperance hall was utterly demolished. 16 [Shame! shame! shame! from the audience -- great confusion and cries of "sit down" from the American delegates on the platform.]

In the midst of this commotion, the chairman tapped me on the shoulder, and whispering, informed me that the fifteen minutes allotted to each speaker had expired; whereupon the vast audience simultaneously shouted, "Don't interrupt! -- don't dictate! go on! go on! Douglass! Douglass!!" This continued several minutes; after which, I proceeded as follows: --

"Kind friends, I beg to assure you that the chairman has not, in the slightest degree, sought to alter any sentiment which I am anxious to express on the present occasion. He was simply reminding me, that the time allotted for me to speak


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had expired. I do not wish to occupy one moment more than is allotted to other speakers. Thanking you for your kind indulgence, I will take my seat."

Proceeding to do so, again there were loud cries of "go on! go on!" with which I complied, for a few moments, but without saying any thing more that particularly related to the colored people of America.

When I sat down, the Rev. Mr. Kirk, of Boston, rose, and said -- "Frederick Douglass has unintentionally misrepresented the Temperance Societies of America. I am afraid that his remarks have produced the impression on the public mind, that the Temperance Societies support slavery -- [`No! no! no! no!!' shouted the audience.] If that be not the impression produced, I have nothing more to say."

Now, Dr. Cox, this is a fair unvarnished story of what took place at Covent Garden Theatre, on the 7th of August, 1846. For the truth of it, I appeal to all the Temperance papers in the land, and the "Journal of the American Union," published at New-York, Oct. 1, 1846. With this statement, I might safely submit the whole question to both the American and British public; but I wish not merely to correct your misrepresentations, and expose your falsehoods, but to show that you are animated by a fierce, bitter and untruthful spirit toward the whole anti-slavery movement.

And for this purpose, I shall now proceed to copy and comment upon extracts from your letter to the New-York Evangelist. In that letter, you exclaim, respecting the foregoing speech, delivered by me, every word of which you take pains to omit: "What a perversion, an abuse, an iniquity against the law of reciprocal righteousness, to call thousands together, and get them, some certain ones, to seem conspicuous and devoted for one sole and grand object, and then, all at once, with obliquity, open an avalanche on them for some imputed evil or monstrosity, for which, whatever be the wound or the injury inflicted, they were both too fatigued and too hurried with surprise, and too straitened for time, to be properly prepared. I say it is a trick of meanness! It is abominable!"

As to the "perversion," "abuse," "iniquity against the law of reciprocal righteousness," "obliquity," "a trick of meanness," "abominable," -- not one word is necessary to show their inappropriateness, as applied to myself, and the speech in question, or to make more glaringly apparent the green and poisonous venom with which your mouth, if not your heart, is filled. You represent me as opening "an avalanche upon you for some imputed evil or monstrosity." And is slavery only an imputed evil? Now, suppose I had lugged in Anti-Slavery, (which I deny,) -- you profess to be an abolitionist. You, therefore, ought to have been the last man in the world to have found fault with me on that account. Your great love of liberty, and sympathy for the downtrodden slave, ought to have led you to "pardon something to the spirit of Liberty," especially in one who had the scars of the slavedrivers' whip on his back, and who, at this moment, has four sisters and a brother in slavery. But, Sir, you are not an abolitionist, and you only assumed to be one during your recent tour in this country, that you might sham your way through this land, and the more effectually stab and blast the character of the real friends of emancipation. Who ever heard of a true abolitionist speaking of slavery as an "imputed evil," or complaining of being "wounded and injured" by an allusion to


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it -- and that, too, because that allusion was in opposition to the infernal system? You took no offence when the Rev. Mr. Kirk assumed the Christian name and character for the slaveholders in the World's Temperance Convention. You were not "wounded or injured," -- it was not a "perversion, an abuse, an iniquity against the law of reciprocal righteousness." You have no indignation to pour out upon him. Oh, no! But when a fugitive slave merely alluded to slavery as obstructing the moral and social improvement of my race, you were "wounded and injured," and rendered indignant! This, sir, tells the whole story of your abolitionism, and stamps your pretensions to abolition as brazen hypocrisy or self-deception.

You were "too fatigued, too hurried by surprise, too straitened for time." Why, Sir, you were in "an unhappy predicament." What would you have done, had you not been "too fatigued, too hurried by surprise, too straitened for time," and unprepared? Would you have denied a single statement in my address? I am persuaded you would not; and had you dared to do so, I could at once have given evidence in support of my statements, that would have put you to silence or to shame. My statements were in perfect accordance with historical facts -- facts of so recent date that they are fresh in the memory of every intelligent American. You knew I spoke truly of the strength of American prejudice against the colored people. No man knows the truth on this subject better than yourself. I am, therefore, filled with amazement that you should seem to deny instead of confirming my statements.

Much more might be said on this point; but having already extended this letter to a much greater length than I had intended, I shall simply conclude by a reference to your remark respecting your professed sympathy and friendship for me previous to the meeting at Covent Garden. If your friendship and sympathy be of so mutable a character as must be inferred from your sudden abandonment of them I may expect that yet another change will return to me the lost treasure. At all events, I do not deem it of sufficient value to purchase it at so high a price as that of the abandonment of the cause of my colored brethren, which appears to be the condition you impose upon its continuance.

Very faithfully,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, November 27, 1846


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Letter to Henry C. Wright
Late in 1846, [Douglass'] English friends, led by Ellen and Anna Richardson of Newcastle,... raised $710.96 to purchase his emancipation from Hugh Auld to whom his brother Thomas had transferred ownership.... 17 Douglass' joy was somewhat diminished by the storm of criticism the news of his freedom aroused among groups of Abolitionists in the United States. They charged that the purchase was a recognition of the "right to traffic in human beings." It was also "impolitic and inexpedient" because by the ransom Douglass had "lost much of that moral power which he possessed, as the representative of the three millions of his countrymen in chains, taking, as he did, his life in his hands, appearing, wherever he appeared, with all the liabilities which the law laid upon him to be returned to stripes, torture and death." Garrison, who had "gladly contributed" his "mite" to the purchase fund, was deluged with indignant letters accusing him of having violated a cardinal principle of the anti-slavery creed. Justifying the negotiation, he reminded his critics that although he had always contended that the demand of the slaveholder for compensation "was an unjust one," he had never maintained that it was wrong "to ransom one held in cruel bondage." "We deny," Garrison editorialized, "that purchasing the freedom of a slave is necessarily an implied acknowledgment of the master's right to property in human beings." 18 The heated controversy raged for more than three months in the columns of the Liberator and other anti-slavery journals. [I:72]

TO HENRY C. WRIGHT

22, St. Ann's Square, Manchester, December 22, 1846

Dear Friend:

Your letter of the 12th December reached me at this place, yesterday. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for it. I am sorry that you deemed it necessary to assure me, that it would be the last letter of advice you would ever write me. It looked as if you were about to cast me off for ever! I do not, however, think you meant to convey any such meaning; and if you did, I am sure you will see cause to change your mind, and to receive me again into the fold of those, whom it should ever be your pleasure to advise and instruct.

The subject of your letter is one of deep importance, and upon which, I have thought and felt much; and, being the party of all others most deeply concerned, it is natural to suppose I have an opinion, and ought to be able to give it on all fitting occasions. I deem this a fitting occasion, and shall act accordingly.

You have given me your opinion: I am glad you have done so. You have given it to me direct, in your own emphatic way. You never speak insipidly, smoothly, or mincingly; you have strictly adhered to your custom, in the letter before me. I now take great pleasure in giving you my opinion, as plainly and unreservedly as you have given yours, and I trust with equal good feeling and purity of motive. I take it, that nearly all that can be said against my position is contained in your letter; for if any man in the wide world would be likely to find valid objections to such a transaction as the one under consideration, I regard you as that man. I must, however, tell you, that I have read your letter over, and over again, and have sought in vain to find anything like what I can regard a valid reason against the purchase of my body, or against my receiving the manumission papers, if they are ever presented to me.


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Let me, in the first place, state the facts and circumstances of the transaction which you so strongly condemn. It is your right to do so, and God forbid that I should ever cherish the slightest desire to restrain you in the exercise of that right. I say to you at once, and in all the fulness of sincerity, speak out; speak freely; keep nothing back; let me know your whole mind. "Hew to the line, though the chips fly in my face." Tell me, and tell me plainly, when you think I am deviating from the strict line of duty and principle; and when I become unwilling to hear, I shall have attained a character which I now despise, and from which I would hope to be preserved. But to the facts.

I am in England, my family are in the United States. My sphere of usefulness is in the United States; my public and domestic duties are there; and there it seems my duty to go. But I am legally the property of Thomas Auld, and if I go to the United States, (no matter to what part, for there is no City of Refuge there, no spot sacred to freedom there,) Thomas Auld, aided by the American Government, can seize, bind and fetter, and drag me from my family, feed his cruel revenge upon me, and doom me to unending slavery. In view of this simple statement of facts, a few friends, desirous of seeing me released from the terrible liability, and to relieve my wife and children from the painful trepidation, consequent upon the liability, and to place me on an equal footing of safety with all other anti-slavery lecturers in the United States, and to enhance my usefulness by enlarging the field of my labors in the United States, have nobly and generously paid Hugh Auld, the agent of Thomas Auld, £150 -- in consideration of which, Hugh Auld (acting as his agent) and the Government of the United States agree, that I shall be free from all further liability.

These, dear friend, are the facts of the whole transaction. The principle here acted on by my friends, and that upon which I shall act in receiving the manumission papers, I deem quite defensible.

First, as to those who acted as my friends, and their actions. The actuating motive was, to secure me from a liability full of horrible forebodings to myself and family. With this object, I will do you the justice to say, I believe you fully unite, although some parts of your letters would seem to justify a different belief.

Then, as to the measure adopted to secure this result. Does it violate a fundamental principle, or does it not? This is the question, and to my mind the only question of importance, involved in the discussion. I believe that, on our part, no just or holy principle has been violated.

Before entering upon the argument in support of this view, I will take the liberty (and I know you will pardon it) to say, I think you should have pointed out some principle violated in the transaction, before you proceeded to exhort me to repentance. You have given me any amount of indignation against "Auld" and the United States, in all which I cordially unite, and felt refreshed by reading; but it has no bearing whatever upon the conduct of myself, or friends, in the matter under consideration. It does not prove that I have done wrong, nor does it demonstrate what is right, or the proper course to be pursued. Now that the matter has reached its present point, before entering upon the argument, let me say one other word; it is this -- I do not think you have acted quite consistently with your character for promptness, in delaying your advice till the transaction was


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completed. You knew of the movement at its conception, and have known it through its progress, and have never, to my knowledge, uttered one syllable against it, in conversation or letter, till now that the deed is done. I regret this, not because I think your earlier advice would have altered the result, but because it would have left me more free than I can now be, since the thing is done. Of course, you will not think hard of my alluding to this circumstance. Now, then, to the main question.

The principle which you appear to regard as violated by the transaction in question, may be stated as follows: -- Every man has a natural and inalienable right to himself. The inference from this is, "that man cannot hold property in man" -- and as man cannot hold property in man, neither can Hugh Auld nor the United States have any right of property in me -- and having no right of property in me, they have no right to sell me -- and, having no right to sell me, no one has a right to buy me. I think I have now stated the principle, and the inference from the principle, distinctly and fairly. Now, the question upon which the whole controversy turns is, simply, this: does the transaction, which you condemn, really violate this principle? I own that, to a superficial observer, it would seem to do so. But I think I am prepared to show, that, so far from being a violation of that principle, it is truly a noble vindication of it. Before going further, let me state here, briefly, what sort of a purchase would have been a violation of this principle, which, in common with yourself, I reverence, and am anxious to preserve inviolate.

1st. It would have been a violation of that principle, had those who purchased me done so, to make me a slave, instead of a free-man. And,

2ndly. It would have been a violation of that principle, had those who purchased me done so with a view to compensate the slaveholder, for what he and they regarded as his rightful property.

In neither of these ways was my purchase effected. My liberation was, in their estimation, of more value than £150; the happiness and repose of my family were, in their judgment, more than paltry gold. The £150 was paid to the remorseless plunderer, not because he had any just claim to it, but to induce him to give up his legal claim to something which they deemed of more value than money. It was not to compensate the slaveholder, but to release me from his power; not to establish my natural right to freedom, but to release me from all legal liabilities to slavery. And all this, you and I, and the slaveholders, and all who know anything of the transaction, very well understand. The very letter to Hugh Auld, proposing terms of purchase, informed him that those who gave, denied his right to it. The error of those, who condemn this transaction, consists in their confounding the crime of buying men into slavery, with the meritorious act of buying men out of slavery, and the purchase of legal freedom with abstract right and natural freedom. They say, "If you buy, you recognize the right to sell. If you receive, you recognize the right of the giver to give." And this has a show of truth, as well as of logic. But a few plain cases will show its entire fallacy.

There is now, in this country, a heavy duty on corn. The government of this country has imposed it; and though I regard it a most unjust and wicked imposition, no man of common sense will charge me with endorsing or recognizing


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the right of this government to impose this duty, simply because, to prevent myself and family from starving, I buy and eat this corn.

Take another case: -- I have had dealings with a man. I have owed him one hundred dollars, and have paid it; I have lost the receipt. He comes upon me the second time for the money. I know, and he knows, he has no right to it; but he is a villain, and has me in his power. The law is with him, and against me. I must pay or be dragged to jail. I choose to pay the bill a second time. To say I sanctioned his right to rob me, because I preferred to pay rather than go to jail, is to utter an absurdity, to which no sane man would give heed. And yet the principle of action, in each of these cases, is the same. The man might indeed say, the claim is unjust -- and declare, I will rot in jail, before I will pay it. But this would not, certainly, be demanded by any principle of truth, justice, or humanity; and however much we might be disposed to respect his daring, but little deference could be paid to his wisdom. The fact is, we act upon this principle every day of our lives, and we have an undoubted right to do so. When I came to this country from the United States, I came in the second cabin. And why? Not because my natural right to come in the first cabin was not as good as that of any other man, but because a wicked and cruel prejudice decided, that the second cabin was the place for me. By coming over in the second, did I sanction or justify this wicked proscription? Not at all. It was the best I could do. I acted from necessity.

One other case, and I have done with this view of the subject. I think you will agree with me, that the case I am now about to put is pertinent, though you may not readily pardon me for making yourself the agent of my illustration. The case respects the passport system on the continent of Europe. That system you utterly condemn. You look upon it as an unjust and wicked interference, a bold and infamous violation of the natural and sacred right of locomotion. You hold, (and so do I,) that the image of our common God ought to be a passport all over the habitable world. But bloody and tyrannical governments have ordained otherwise; they usurp authority over you, and decide for you, on what conditions you shall travel. They say, you shall have a passport, or you shall be put in prison. Now, the question is, have they a right to prescribe any such terms? and do you, by complying with these terms, sanction their interference? I think you will answer, no; submission to injustice, and sanction of injustice, are different things; and he is a poor reasoner who confounds the two, and makes them one and the same thing. Now, then, for the parallel, and the application of the passport system to my own case.

I wish to go to the United States. I have a natural right to go there, and be free. My natural right is as good as that of Hugh Auld, or James K. Polk; but that plundering government says, I shall not return to the United States in safety -- it says, I must allow Hugh Auld to rob me, or my friends, of £150, or be hurled into the infernal jaws of slavery. I must have a "bit of paper, signed and sealed," or my liberty must be taken from me, and I must be torn from my family and friends. The government of Austria said to you, "Dare to come upon my soil, without a passport, declaring you to be an American citizen, (which you say you are not,) you shall at once be arrested, and thrown into prison." What said you to that Government? Did you say that the threat was a villainous one, and an infamous


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invasion of your right of locomotion? Did you say, "I will come upon your soil; I will go where I please! I dare and defy your government!" Did you say, "I will spurn your passports; I would not stain my hand, and degrade myself, by touching your miserable parchment. You have no right to give it, and I have no right to take it. I trample your laws, and will put your constitutions under my feet! I will not recognize them!" Was this your course? No! dear friend, it was not. Your practice was wiser than your theory. You took the passport, submitted to be examined while travelling, and availed yourself of all the advantages of your "passport" -- or, in other words, escaped all the evils which you ought to have done, without it, and would have done, but for the tyrannical usurpation in Europe.

I will not dwell longer upon this view of the subject; and I dismiss it, feeling quite satisfied of the entire correctness of the reasoning, and the principle attempted to be maintained. As to the expediency of the measures, different opinions may well prevail; but in regard to the principle, I feel it difficult to conceive of two opinions. I am free to say, that, had I possessed one hundred and fifty pounds, I would have seen Hugh Auld kicking, before I would have given it to him. I would have waited till the emergency came, and only given up the money when nothing else would do. But my friends thought it best to provide against the contingency; they acted on their own responsibility, and I am not disturbed about the result. But, having acted on a true principle, I do not feel free to disavow their proceedings.

In conclusion, let me say, I anticipate no such change in my position as you predict. I shall be Frederick Douglass still, and once a slave still. I shall neither be made to forget nor cease to feel the wrongs of my enslaved fellow-countrymen. My knowledge of slavery will be the same, and my hatred of it will be the same. By the way, I have never made my own person and suffering the theme of public discourse, but have always based my appeal upon the wrongs of the three millions now in chains; and these shall still be the burthen of my speeches. You intimate that I may reject the papers, and allow them to remain in the hands of those friends who have effected the purchase, and thus avail myself of the security afforded by them, without sharing any part of the responsibility of the transaction. My objection to this is one of honor. I do not think it would be very honorable on my part, to remain silent during the whole transaction, and giving it more than my silent approval; and then, when the thing is completed, and I am safe, attempt to play the hero, by throwing off all responsibility in the matter. It might be said, and said with great propriety, "Mr. Douglass, your indignation is very good, and has but one fault, and that is, it comes too late!" It would be a show of bravery when the danger is over. From every view I have been able to take of the subject, I am persuaded to receive the papers, if presented, -- not, however, as a proof of my right to be free, for that is self-evident, but as a proof that my friends have been legally robbed of £150, in order to secure that which is the birth-right of every man. And I will hold up those papers before the world, in proof of the plundering character of the American government. It shall be the brand of infamy, stamping the nation, in whose name the deed was done, as a great aggregation of hypocrites, thieves and liars, -- and their condemnation is


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just. They declare that all men are created equal, and have a natural and inalienable right to liberty, while they rob me of £150, as a condition of my enjoying this natural and inalienable right. It will be their condemnation, in their own hand-writing, and may be held up to the world as a means of humbling that haughty republic into repentance.

I agree with you, that the contest which I have to wage is against the government of the United States. But the representative of that government is the slave-holder, Thomas Auld. He is commander-in-chief of the army and navy. The whole civil and naval force of the nation are at his disposal. He may command all these to his assistance, and bring them all to bear upon me, until I am made entirely subject to his will, or submit to be robbed myself, or allow my friends to be robbed, of seven hundred and fifty dollars. And rather than be subject to his will, I have submitted to be robbed, or allowed my friends to be robbed, of the seven hundred and fifty dollars.

Sincerely yours,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, January 29, 1847

Farewell Speech to the British People
Douglass' last months abroad were so crammed with lecture engagements that in one month, he spoke almost every night. By March the pace was beginning to tell, and some of his addresses lacked their usual forceful delivery. An observer at Warrington noted that he appeared "to be suffering from great debility owing to the large amount of fatigue he


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has lately endured." Nevertheless he continued to score success after success and to convert large audiences to the cause.

Late in March Douglass prepared for his departure. In London, on March 30, his friends tendered him a public farewell attended by 1,400 persons "of great respectability." Deeply moved, the honored guest spoke regretfully of leaving the country.... 19 [I:73]

AT London Tavern, London, England, March 30, 1847

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I never appear before an audience like that which I now behold, without feeling my incompetency to do justice to the cause which I am here to advocate, or to meet the expectations which are generally created for me, by the friends who usually precede me in speaking. Certainly, if the eulogiums bestowed upon me this evening were correct, I should be able to chain the attention of this audience for hours by my eloquence. But, sir, I claim none of these qualities. While I feel grateful for the generosity of my friends in bestowing them upon me, I am conscious of possessing very little just right to them; for I am but a plain, blunt man -- a poor slave, or, rather, one who has been a slave. [Cheers.] Never had I a day's schooling in my life; all that I have of education I have stolen. [Laughter.] I am desirous, therefore, at once to relieve you from any anticipation of a great speech, which, from what you have heard from our esteemed friend, the chairman, and the gentlemen who preceded me, you might have been led to expect. That I am deeply, earnestly, and devotedly engaged in advocating the cause of my oppressed brethren, is most true; and in that character, as their representative, I hail your kind expression of feeling towards me this evening, and receive it with the profoundest gratitude. I will make use of these demonstrations of your warm approbation hereafter; I will take them home in my memory; they shall be written upon my heart; and I will employ them in that land of boasted liberty and light, but, at the same time, of abject slavery, to which I am going, for the purpose of overthrowing that accursed system of bondage, and restoring the Negroes, throughout its wide domain, to their lost liberty and rights. Sir, the time for argument upon this question is over, so far as the right of the slave to himself is concerned; and hence I feel less freedom in speaking here this evening, than I should have done under other circumstances. Place me in the midst of a pro-slavery mob in the United States, where my rights as a man are cloven down -- let me be in an assembly of ministers or politicians who call in question my claim to freedom -- and then, indeed, I can stand up and open my mouth; then assert boldly and strongly the rights of my manhood. [Cheers.] But where all is admitted -- where almost every man is waiting for the end of a sentence that he may respond to it with a cheer -- listening for the last words of the most radical resolution that he may hold up his hand in favour of it -- why, then, under such circumstances, I certainly have very little to do. You have done all for me. Still, sir, I may manage, out of the scraps of the cloth which you have left, to make a coat of many colours, not such an one as Joseph was clothed in, yet still bearing some resemblance to it. I do not, however, promise to make you a very connected speech. I have listened to the patriotic, or rather respectful, language applied to America and Americans this


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evening. I confess, that although I am going back to that country, though I have many dear friends there, though I expect to end my days upon its soil, I am, nevertheless, not here to make any profession whatever of respect for that country, of attachment to its politicians, or love for its churches or national institutions. The fact is, the whole system, the entire network of American society, is one great falsehood, from beginning to end. I might say, that the present generation of Americans have become dishonest men from the circumstances by which they are surrounded. Seventy years ago, they went to the battle-field in defence of liberty. Sixty years ago, they framed a constitution, over the very gateway of which they inscribed, "To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity." In their celebrated Declaration of Independence, they made the loudest and clearest assertions of the rights of man; and yet at that very time the identical men who drew up that Declaration of Independence, and framed the American democratic constitution, were trafficking in the blood and souls of their fellow men. [Hear, hear.] From the period of the first adoption of the constitution of the United States downward, everything good and great in the heart of the American people -- everything patriotic within their breasts -- has been summoned to defend this great lie before the world. They have been driven from their very patriotism, to defend this great falsehood. How have they done it? Why, by wrapping it up in honeyed words. [Hear.] By disguising it, and calling it "our peculiar institution;" "our social system;" "our patriarchal institution;" "our domestic institution;" and so forth. They have spoken of it in every possible way, except the right way. In no less than three clauses of their constitution may be found a spirit of the most deadly hostility to the liberty of the black man in that country, and yet clothed in such language as no Englishman, to whom its meaning was unknown, could take offence at. For instance, the President of the United States is required, at all times and under any circumstances, to call out the army and navy to suppress "domestic insurrection." Of course, all Englishmen, upon a superficial reading of that clause of the constitution, would very readily assent to the justice of the proposition involved in it; they would agree at once in its perfect propriety. "The army and navy! what are they good for if not to suppress insurrections, and preserve the peace, tranquillity, and harmony of the state?" But what does this language really mean, sir? What is its signification, as shadowed forth practically, in that constitution? What is the idea it conveys to the mind of the American? Why, that every man who casts a ball into the American ballot-box -- every man who pledges himself to raise his hand in support of the American constitution -- every individual who swears to support this instrument -- at the same time swears that the slaves of that country shall either remain slaves or die. [Hear, hear.] This clause of the constitution, in fact, converts every white American into an enemy to the black man in that land of professed liberty. Every bayonet, sword, musket, and cannon has its deadly aim at the bosom of the Negro: 3,000,000 of the coloured race are lying there under the heels of 17,000,000 of their white fellow creatures.

There they stand, with all their education, with all their religion, with all their moral influence, with all their means of co-operation -- there they stand, sworn before God and the universe, that the slave shall continue a slave or die. [Hear, hear, and cries of "Shame."] Then, take another clause of the American constitution.


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"No person held to service or labour, in any state within the limits thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be released from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up to be claimed by the party to whom such service or labour may be due." Upon the face of this clause there is nothing of injustice or inhumanity in it. It appears perfectly in accordance with justice, and in every respect humane. It is, indeed, just what it should be, according to your English notion of things and the general use of words. But what does it mean in the United States? I will tell you what it signifies there -- that if any slave, in the darkness of midnight, looks down upon himself, feeling his limbs and thinking himself a man, and entitled to the rights of a man, shall steal away from his hovel or quarter, snap the chain that bound his leg, break the fetter that linked him to slavery, and seek refuge from the free institutions of a democracy, within the boundary of a monarchy, that that slave, in all his windings by night and by day, in his way from the land of slavery to the abode of freedom, shall be liable to be hunted down like a felon, and dragged back to the hopeless bondage from which he was endeavouring to escape. So that this clause of the constitution is one of the most effective safeguards of that slave system of which we have met here this evening to express our detestation. This clause of the American constitution makes the whole land one vast hunting-ground for men: it gives to the slaveholder the right at any moment to set his well-trained bloodhounds upon the track of the poor fugitive; hunt him down like a wild beast, and hurl him back to the jaws of slavery, from which he had, for a brief space of time, escaped. This clause of the constitution consecrates every rood of earth in that land over which the star-spangled banner waves as slave-hunting ground. Sir, there is no valley so deep, no mountain so high, no plain so expansive, no spot so sacred, throughout the length and breadth of America, as to enable a man, not having a skin coloured like your own, to enjoy the free and unrestrained right to his own hands. If he attempt to assert such a right he may be hunted down in a moment. Sir, in the Mosaic economy, to which reference has been made this evening by a preceding speaker, we have a command given, as it were, amid the thunders and lightnings from Sinai, "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant that is escaped unto thee: he shall dwell with thee in the place that liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him!" America, religious America, has run into the very face of Jehovah, and said, "Thou shalt deliver him unto his master." [Hear, hear.] "Thou shalt deliver unto the tyrant, who usurps authority over his fellow man, the trembling bondman that escapes into your midst." Sir, this clause of the American constitution is one of the most deadly enactments against the natural rights of man: above and beyond all its other provisions, it serves to keep up that system of fraud, wrong, and inhumanity which is now crushing 3,000,000 of human beings identified with me in their complexion, and formerly in their chains. How is it? Why, the slave-holders of the South would be wholly unable to hold their slaves were it not for the existence of the protection afforded by this constitution; but for this the slaves would run away. No, no; they do not love their masters so well as the tyrants sometimes flatter themselves; they do frequently run away. You have an instance of their disposition to run away before you. [Loud cheers.]


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Why, sir, the Northern States claim to be exempt from all responsibility in the matter of the slaveholding of America, because they do not actually hold slaves themselves upon their own soil. But this is a mere subterfuge. What is the actual position of those Northern States? If they are not actual slaveholders, they stand around the slave system and support it. They say to the slaveholder, "We have a sentiment against -- we have a feeling opposed to -- we have an abhorrence of -- slavery. We would not hold slaves ourselves, and we are most sincerely opposed to slavery; but, still, if your Negroes run away from you to us, we will return them to you. And, while you can make the slaves believe that we will so return them, why, of course, they will not run away into our states: and, then, if they should attempt to gain their freedom by force, why, we will bring down upon them the whole civil, military, and naval power of the nation and crush them again into subjection. While we make them believe that we will do this, we give them the most complete evidence that we will, by our votes in congress and in the senate, by our religious assemblies, our synods, presbyteries and conferences, by our individual votes, by our deadly hate and deep prejudice against the coloured man, even when he is free, we will, by all these evidences, give you the means of convincing the slave, that, if he does attempt to gain his freedom, we will kill him. But still, notwithstanding all this, let it be clearly understood that we hate slavery." [Laughter and cheers.] This is the guilty position even of those who do not themselves hold slaves in America. And, under such circumstances, I really cannot be very patriotic when speaking of their national institutions and boasted constitution, and, therefore, I hope you will not expect any very eloquent outbursts of eulogy or praise of America from me upon the present occasion. [Loud cheers.] No, my friends; I am going back, determined to be honest with America. I am going to the United States in a few days, but I go there to do, as I have done here, to unmask her pretensions to republicanism, and expose her hypocritical professions of Christianity; to denounce her high claims to civilisation, and proclaim in her ears the wrongs of those who cry day and night to Heaven, "How long! how long! O Lord God of Sabaoth!" [Loud cheers.] I go to that land, not to foster her national pride, or utter fulsome words about her greatness. She is great in territory; great in numerical strength; great in intellectual sagacity; great in her enterprise and industry. She may boast of her broad lakes and mighty rivers; but, sir, while I remember, that with her broadest lakes and finest rivers, the tears and blood of my brethren are mingled and forgotten, I cannot speak well of her; I cannot be loud in her praise, or pour forth warm eulogiums upon her name or institutions. [Cheers.] No; she is unworthy of the name of great or free. She stands upon the quivering heartstrings of 3,000,000 of people. She punishes the black man for crimes, for which she allows the white man to escape. She declares in her statute-book, that the black man shall be seventy times more liable to the punishment of death than the white man. In the state of Virginia, there are seventy-one crimes for which a black man may be punished with death, only one of which crimes will bring upon the white man a like punishment. [Hear, hear.] She will not allow her black population to meet together and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. If they assemble together more than seven in number for the purpose of worshipping


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God, or improving their minds in any way, shape, or form, each one of them may legally be taken and whipped with thirty-nine lashes upon his bare back. If any one of them shall be found riding a horse, by day or by night, he may be taken and whipped forty lashes on his naked back, have his ears cropped, and his cheek branded with a red-hot iron. In all the slave states south, they make it a crime punishable with severe fines, and imprisonment in many cases, to teach or instruct a slave to read the pages of Inspired Wisdom. In the state of Mississippi, a man is liable to a heavy fine for teaching a slave to read. In the state of Alabama, for the third offence, it is death to teach a slave to read. In the state of Louisiana, for the second offence, it is death to teach a slave to read. In the state of South Carolina, for the third offence of teaching a slave to read, it is death by the law. To aid a slave in escaping from a brutal owner, no matter how inhuman the treatment he may have received at the hands of his tyrannical master, it is death by the law. For a woman, in defence of her own person and dignity, against the brutal and infernal designs of a determined master, to raise her hand in protection of her chastity, may legally subject her to be put to death upon the spot. [Loud cries of "Shame, shame."] Sir, I cannot speak of such a nation as this with any degree of complacency, [cheers], and more especially when that very nation is loud and long in its boasts of holy liberty and light; when, upon the wings of the press, she is hurling her denunciations at the despotisms of Europe, when she is embracing every opportunity to scorn and scoff at the English government, and taunt and denounce her people as a community of slaves, bowing under a haughty monarchy; when she has stamped upon her coin, from the cent to the dollar, from the dollar to the eagle, the sacred name of liberty; when upon every hill may be seen erected, a pole, bearing the cap of liberty, under which waves the star-spangled banner; when, upon every 4th of July, we hear declarations like this: "O God! we thank Thee that we live in a land of religious and civil liberty!" when from every platform, upon that day, we hear orators rise and say: --


Ours is a glorious land;
Her broad-arms stretch from shore to shore,
The broad Pacific chafes her strand,
She hears the dark Atlantic roar;
Enamelled on her ample breast,
A many a goodly prospect stands.
Ours is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I say, when professions like these are put forth vauntingly before the world, and I remember the scenes I have witnessed in, and the facts I know, respecting that country, why, then, let others do as they will, I have no word of patriotic applause for America or her institutions. [Enthusiastic and protracted cheering.] America presents to the world an anomaly, such as no other nation ever did or can present before mankind. The people of the United States are the boldest in their pretensions to freedom, and the loudest in their profession of love of liberty; yet no nation upon the face of the globe can exhibit a statute-book so full of all that is cruel, malicious, and infernal, as the American code of laws. Every page is red with the blood of the American slave. O'Connell once said, speaking of Ireland -- no matter for my illustration, how truly or falsely -- that "her

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history may be traced, like the track of a wounded man through a crowd." If this description can be given of Ireland, how much more true is it when applied to the sons and daughters of Africa, in the United States? Their history is nothing but blood! blood! -- blood in the morning, blood at noon, blood at night! They have had blood to drink; they have had their own blood shed. At this moment we may exclaim


What, ho! our countrymen in chains!
The whip on woman's shrinking flesh!
Our soil still redd'ning with the stains
Caught from her scourging, warm and fresh!
What! mothers from their children riven!
What! God's own image bought and sold!
Americans to market driven,
And barter'd, as the brutes, for gold!

And this, too, sir, in the midst of a people professing, not merely republicanism, not merely democratical institutions, but civilisation; nay, more -- Christianity, in its highest, purest, and broadest sense [hear, hear]; claiming to be the heaven-appointed nation, in connexion with the British, to civilise, christianise, and evangelise the world. For this purpose, sir, we have our Tract, Bible, and Missionary Societies; our Sabbath-school and Education Societies; we have in array all these manifestations of religious life, and yet, in the midst of them all -- amid the eloquence of the orators who swagger at all these meetings -- may be heard the clanking of the fetter, the rattling of the chain, and the crack of the slavedriver's whip. The very man who ascends the platform, and is greeted with rounds of applause when he comes forward to speak on the subject of extending the victories of the cross of Christ, "from the rivers to the ends of the earth," has actually come to that missionary meeting with money red with the blood of the slave; with gold dripping with gore from the plantations. The very man who stands up there -- Dr. Plummer, for instance, Dr. Marsh, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Cooper, or some other such doctor -- comes to the missionary meeting for the purpose of promoting Christianity, Evangelical Christianity, with the price of blood in his possession. He stands up and preaches with it in his pocket, and gives it to aid the holy cause of sending missionaries to heathen lands. This is the spectacle we witness annually at New York and Philadelphia; and sometimes they have the temerity to come as far as Boston with their blood-stained money. We are a nation of inconsistencies; completely made up of inconsistencies. Mr. John C. Calhoun, the great Southern statesman of the United States, is regarded in that country as a real democrat, "dyed in the wool," "a right out-and-out democrat," "a back-bone democrat." By these and similar phrases they speak of him; and yet, sir, that very man stands upon the floor of the senate, and actually boasts that he is a robber! that he is an owner of slaves in the Southern states. He positively makes his boast of this disgraceful fact, and assigns it as a reason why he should be listened to as a man of consequence -- a person of great importance. All his pretensions are founded upon the fact of his being a slaveowner. The audacity of these men is actually astounding; I scarcely know what to say in America, when I hear men deliberately get up and assert a right to property in

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my limbs -- my very body and soul; that they have a right to me! that I am in their hands, "a chattel personal to all intents, purposes, and constructions whatsoever;" "a thing" to be bought and sold! -- to be sure, having moral perceptions; certainly possessing intellect, and a sense of my own rights, and endowed with resolution to assert them whenever an opportunity occurred; and yet, notwithstanding, a slave! a marketable commodity! I do not know what to think of these men; I hardly know how to answer them when they speak in this manner. And, yet, this self-same John C. Calhoun, while he vehemently declaims for liberty, and asserts that any attempt to abridge the rights of the people should be met with the sternest resistance on all hands, deliberately stands forth at the head of the democracy of that country and talks of his right to property in me; and not only in my body, but in the bodies and souls of hundreds and thousands of others in the United States. As with this honorable gentleman, so is it with the doctors of divinity in America; for, after all, slavery finds no defenders there so formidable as them. They are more skilful, adroit, and persevering, and will descend even to greater meannesses, than any other class of opponents with whom the abolitionists have to contend in that country. The church in America is, beyond all question, the chief refuge of slavery. When we attack it in the state, it runs into the street, to the mob; when we attack it in the mob, it flies to the church; and, sir, it is a melancholy fact, that it finds a better, safer, and more secure protection from the shafts of abolitionism within the sacred enclosure of the Christian temple than from any other quarter whatever. [Hear, hear.] Slavery finds no champions so bold, brave, and uncompromising as the ministers of religion. These men come forth, clad in all the sanctity of the pastoral office, and enforce slavery with the Bible in their hands, and under the awful name of the Everlasting God. We there find them preaching sermon after sermon in support of the system of slavery as an institution consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have commentary after commentary attempting to wrest the sacred pages of the Bible into a justification of the iniquitous system. And, sir, this may explain to you what might otherwise appear unaccountable in regard to the conduct and proceedings of American abolitionists. I am very desirous of saying a word or two on this point, upon which there has been much misrepresentation. I say, the fact that slavery takes refuge in the churches of the United States will explain to you another fact, which is, that the opponents of slavery in America are almost universally branded there -- and, I am sorry to say, to some extent in this country also -- as infidels. [Loud cries of "Shame, shame."] Why is this?

Simply because slavery is sheltered by the church. The warfare in favour of emancipation in America is a very different thing from the warfare which you had to wage on behalf of freedom in the West India Islands. On that occasion, thank God! religion was in its right position, and slavery in its proper place -- in fierce antagonism to each other. Religion and slavery were then the enemies of each other. Slavery hated Religion with the utmost intensity; it pursued the missionary with the greatest malignity, burning down his chapel, mobbing his house, jeopardising his life, and rendering his property utterly insecure. There was an antipathy deep and lasting between slavery and the exponents of Christianity in the West India Islands. All honour to the names of Knibb and Burchell! [Loud


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cheers.] Those men were indeed found faithful to Him who commanded them to "Preach deliverance to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound." [Loud cheers.] But, sir, the natural consequence of such faithfulness was, that these men were hated with the most deadly hate by the slaveowners, who with their abettors, used every effort to crush that living voice of truth coming from the bosom of the Christian church, which was endeavouring to dash down the bloody altars of slavery, and scatter its guilty profits to the winds. Slavery was opposed by the church in the West Indies: not so in America; there, religion and slavery are linked and interlinked with each other -- woven and interwoven together. In the United States we have slaveholders as class-leaders, ministers of the Gospel, elders, deacons, doctors of divinity, professors of theology, and even bishops. We have the slaveholder in all parts of the church. Wherever he is, he is an active, energetic, vigilant man. Slavery never sleeps or slumbers. The slaveholder who goes to his bed for the purpose of taking rest does not pass his night in tranquillity and peace; but, knowing his danger, he takes his pistol, bowie-knife, and dirk with him. He is uneasy; he is aware that he lies upon bleeding heartstrings, that he sleeps upon the wretchedness of men, that he rests himself upon the quivering flesh of his fellow creatures around him; he is conscious that there is intellect burning -- a spark of divinity enkindled -- within the bosoms of the men he oppresses, who are watching for, and will seize upon, the first opportunity to burst their bonds asunder, and mete out justice to the wretch who has doomed them to slavery. [Loud cheers.] The slaveowner, therefore, is compelled to be watchful; he cannot sleep; there is a morbid sensitiveness in his breast upon this subject: everything that looks like opposition to slavery is promptly met by him and put down. Whatever, either in the church or the state, may appear to have a tendency to undermine, sap, or destroy the foundation of slavery is instantly grappled with; and, by their religion, their energy, their perseverance, their unity of feeling, and identity of interest, the slaveholder and the church have ever had the power to command a majority to put down any efforts for the emancipation of the coloured race, and to sustain slavery in all its horrors. Thus has slavery been protected and sheltered by the church. Slavery has not only framed our civil and criminal code, it has not only nominated our presidents, judges, and diplomatic agents, but it has also given to us the most popular commentators on the Bible in America. [Hear, hear.] It has given to us our religion, shaped our morality, and fashioned it favourable to its own existence. Thus is it that slavery is ensconced at this moment; and, when the abolitionist sees slavery thus woven and interwoven with the very texture -- with the whole network -- of our social and religious organizations, why he resolves, at whatever hazard of reputation, ease, comfort, luxury, or even of life itself, to pursue, and, if possible, destroy it. [Loud cheers.] Sir, to illustrate our principle of action, I might say that we adopt the motto of Pat, upon entering a Tipperary row. Said he, "Wherever you see a head, hit it!" [Loud cheers and laughter.] Sir, the abolitionists have resolved, that wherever slavery manifests itself in the United States, they will hit it. [Renewed cheering.] They will deal out their heaviest blows upon it. Hence, having followed it from the state to the street, from the mob to the church, from the church to the pulpit, they are now hunting it down


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there. But slavery in the present day affects to be very pious; it is uncommonly devotional, all at once. It feels disposed to pray the very moment you touch it. The hideous fiend kneels down and pretends to engage in devotional exercises; and when we come to attack it, it howls piously -- "Off! you are an infidel"; and straightway the press in America, and some portion of the press in this land also, take up the false cry. [Hear, hear.] Forthwith a clamour is got up here, not against the slaveholder, but against the man who is virtuously labouring for the over-throw of that which his assailants profess to hate -- slavery. [Loud cheers.] A fierce outcry is raised, not in favour of the slave, but against him and against his best and only friends. Sir, when the history of the emancipation movement shall have been fairly written, it will be found that the abolitionists of the nineteenth century were the only men who dared to defend the Bible from the blasphemous charge of sanctioning and sanctifying Negro slavery. [Loud cheers.] It will be found that they were the only men who dared to stand up and demand, that the churches calling themselves by the name of Christ, should entirely, and for ever, purify themselves from all contact, connection, and fellowship with men who gain their fortunes by the blood of souls. It will be found that they were the men who "cried aloud and spared not;" who "lifted their voices like trumpets," against the giant iniquity by which they were surrounded. It will then be seen that they were the men who planted themselves on the immutable, eternal, and all-comprehensive principle of the sacred New Testament -- "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them" -- that, acting on this principle, and feeling that if the fetters were on their own limbs, the chain upon their own persons, the lash falling quick and hard upon their own quivering bodies, they would desire their fellow men about them to be faithful to their cause; and, therefore, carrying out this principle, they have dared to risk their lives, fortunes, nay, their all, for the purpose of rescuing from the tyrannous grasp of the slaveholder these 3,000,000 of trampled-down children of men. [Loud cheers.]

Sir, the foremost, strongest, and mightiest among those who have completely identified themselves with the Negroes in the United States, I will now name here; and I do so because his name has been most unjustly coupled with odium in this country. [Hear, hear.] I will name, if only as an expression of gratitude on my part, my beloved, esteemed, and almost venerated friend, William Lloyd Garrison. [Loud and prolonged cheering.] Sir, I have now been in this country for nineteen months; I have gone through its length and breadth; I have had sympathy here and sympathy there; co-operation here, and co-operation there; in fact, I have scarcely met a man who has withheld fellowship from me as an abolitionist, standing unconnected with William Lloyd Garrison. [Hear.] Had I stood disconnected from that great and good man, then numerous and influential parties would have held out to me the right hand of fellowship, sanctioned my proceedings in England, backed me up with money and praise, and have given me a great reputation, so far as they were capable; and they were men of influence. And why, sir, is William Lloyd Garrison hated and despised by certain parties in this country? What has he done to deserve such treatment at their hands? He has done that which all great reformers and pioneers in the cause of freedom or religion have


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ever been called upon to do -- made himself unpopular for life in the maintenance of great principles. He has thrown himself, as it were, over the ditch as a bridge; his own body, his personal reputation, his individual property, his wide and giant-hearted intellect, all were sacrificed to form a bridge that others might pass over and enjoy a rich reward from the labours that he had bestowed, and the seed which he had sown. He has made himself disreputable. How? By his uncompromising hostility to slavery, by his bold, scathing denunciation of tyranny; his unwavering, inflexible adherence to principle; and by his frank, open, determined spirit of opposition to everything like cant and hypocrisy. [Loud cheers.] Such is the position in which he stands among the American people. And the same feeling exists in this country to a great extent. Because William Lloyd Garrison has upon both sides of the Atlantic fearlessly unmasked hypocrisy, and branded impiety in language in which impiety deserves to be characterized, he has thereby brought down upon himself the fierce execrations of a religious party in this land. But, sir, I do not like, upon the present occasion, even to allude to this subject; for the party who have acted in this manner is small and insignificant; so impotent for good, so well known for its recklessness of statement, so proverbial for harshness of spirit, that I will not dwell any longer on their conduct. I feel that I ought not to trespass upon your patience any further. [Loud cheers and cries of "Go on, go on."] Well, then, as you are so indulgent to me, I will refer to another matter. It would not be right and proper, from any consideration of regard and esteem which I feel for those who have honoured me by assembling here this evening to bid me farewell -- especially to some who have honoured me and the cause I am identified with, honoured themselves and our common humanity, by being present to-night upon this platform -- I say it would not be proper in me, out of deference to any such persons, on this occasion, to fail to advert to what I deem one of the greatest sins of omission ever committed by British Christians in this country. I allude to the recent meeting of the Ecumenical Evangelical Alliance. [Hear.] Sir, I must be permitted to say a word or two upon this matter. [Hear.] From my very love to British Christians -- out of esteem for the very motives of those excellent men who composed the British part of that great convention -- from all these considerations, I am bound to state here my firm belief, that they suffered themselves to be sadly hoodwinked upon this point. [Hear, hear.] They were misled and cajoled into a position on this question, which no subsequent action can completely obliterate or entirely atone for. They had it in their power to have given slavery a blow which would have sent it reeling to its grave, as if smitten by a voice or an arm from Heaven. They had moral power; they had more -- they had religious power. They were in a position which no other body ever occupied, and in which no other association will ever stand, while slavery exists in the United States. [Hear.] They were raised up on a pinnacle of great eminence: they were "a city set on a hill." They were a body to whom the whole evangelical world was looking, during that memorable month of August. Pressed down deep among evangelical Christians, under the feet of some there, were 3,000,000 of slaves looking to the Evangelical Alliance, with uplifted hands, with imploring tones -- or, rather, I should say in the absence of tones, for the slave is dead; he has no voice in such assemblies; he can send no delegates to Bible and Missionary Societies,


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Temperance Conventions, or Evangelican Alliances; he is not permitted to send representatives there to tell his wrongs. He has his pressing evils and deeply aggravated wrongs, to which he is constantly subject; but he is not allowed to depute any voice to plead his cause. Still, in the silence of annihilation -- of mental and moral annihilation -- in the very eloquence of extinction, he cried to the Evangelical Alliance to utter a word on behalf of his freedom. They "passed him by on the other side." [Loud cheers.] Sir, I am sorry for this, deeply sorry; sorry on their own account, for I know they are not satisfied with their position. I am sorry that they should, from a timidity on their part -- a fear of offending those who were called "The American brethren" -- have given themselves the pain and trouble to repent on this question. But still, I hope they will repent; and I believe that many of them have already repented [hear, hear]; I believe that those who were hoodwinked on that occasion, when they shall be brought to see that they were miserably deceived -- misled by the jack o' lanterns from America, [laughter] -- that they will add another element to their former opposition to slavery, and that is, the pain and sense of injustice done to themselves on the part of the American delegates. From the very feeling of having been betrayed into a wrong position, they will feel bound to deal a sharp, powerful, and pungent rebuke to those guilty men who dared to lead them astray. Sir, after all, I do not wonder at the manner in which the British delegates were deluded; when I reflect upon the subtlety of the Americans, their apparently open, free, frank, candid, and unsophisticated disposition -- how they stood up and declared to the British brethren that they were honest, and looked so honestly, and smiled so blandly at the same time. No; I do not wonder at their success, when I think how old and skilful they are in the practice of misrepresentation -- in the art of lying. [Hear.] Coarse as the expression I have here applied to them may be, Mr. Chairman, it is, nevertheless, true; the thing exists. If I am branded for coarseness on the present occasion, I must excuse myself by telling you I have a coarse thing and a foul business to lay before you. As with the president, so with these deputations from America; there is not a single inaugural speech, not an annual message, but teems with lies like this -- that "in this land every man enjoys the protection of the law, the protection of his property, the protection of his person, the protection of his liberty." They iterate and reiterate these statements over and over again. Thus, these Americans, as I said before, are skilled in the art of falsehood. I do not wonder at their success, when I recollect that they brought religion to aid them in their fraud; for they not only told their falsehood with the blandness, oratory, and smiling looks of the politicians in their own country, but they combined with those seductive qualities a loud profession of piety; and in this way they have succeeded well in misleading the judgments of some of the most intrepid, bright, and illustrious of slavery's foes in the ranks of the ministers of religion of England. [Hear.] Among the arguments used at the meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, the following stood preeminent: "You, British ministers, should not interfere with slavery, or pass resolutions to exclude slaveholders from your fellowship, because," it was cooly said, "the slaveholders are placed in difficult circumstances." It was stated that the slaveholders could not get rid of their slaves if they wished; that they were anxiously desirous of emancipating their slaves, but that the laws of the states in


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which they lived were such as to compel them to hold them whether they would or not. It was alleged that their peculiar circumstances make it a matter of Christian duty in them to hold their slaves.

Sir, I know the stubborn and dogged manner in which these statements were made; and I am conscious how well calculated they were to excite sympathy for the slaveholders: but I am here to tell you, that there was not one word of truth in any of these plausible assertions. There was, indeed, a slight shadow of light; a glimmering might be detected by an argus eye, but not certainly by the eye of man. There was a faint semblance of truth in it; a slight shadow; but, after all, it was only a semblance. [Hear.] What are the facts of the case? Just these: that in three or four of the Southern states, when a man emancipates his slaves, he is obliged to give a bond that such slaves shall not become chargeable to the state as paupers. That is all the "impediment;" that is the whole of the "difficulty" as regards the law. But the fact is, that the free Negroes never become paupers. I do not know that I ever saw a black pauper. The free Negroes in Philadelphia, 25,000 in number, not only support their own poor, by their own benevolent societies, but actually pay 500 dollars per annum for the support of the white paupers in the state. [Loud cheers.] No, sir, the statement is false; we do not have black paupers in America; we leave pauperism to be fostered and taken care of by white people; not that I intend any disrespect to my audience in making this statement. [Hear.] I can assure you I am in nowise prejudiced against colour. [Laughter.] But the idea of a black pauper in the United States is most absurd. But, after all, what does the objection amount to? What if really they have to give a bond to the State that the slaves whom they emancipate should not become chargeable to the state? Why, sir, one would think this would be a very little matter of consideration to a just and Christian man; considering that all the wealth that this conscientious slave-holder possesses, he has wrung from the unrequited toil of the slave. It is not much, when it is recollected that he kept the poor Negro in ignorance, and worked him twenty-eight or thirty years of his life, and that he has had the fruit of his labour during the best part of his days. But yet, it is gravely stated, that the slave-owner looks on it as a great hardship, that if he emancipates his slave he is bound not to suffer him to become chargeable to the state. Why, the money which the slave should have earned in his youthful days, to support him in the season of age, has been wrung from him by his Christian master. But the slaveholder of America had no occasion ever to have had such a difficulty as this to contend with before he gets rid of his slave. I may mention a fact, which is not generally known here, that this law was adopted in the slave states -- for what purpose? I will tell you why: because it was previously the custom of a large class of slaveholders to hold their slaves in bondage from infancy to old age, so long as they could toil and struggle and were worth a penny a day to their masters. While they could do this, they were kept; but, as soon as they became old and decrepit -- the moment they were unable to toil -- their masters, from very benevolence and humanity of course, gave them their freedom. [Hear, hear.] The inhabitants of the states, to prevent this burden upon their community, made the masters liable for their support under such circumstances. Dr. Cox did not tell you that in his famous speech in the Evangelical Alliance. [Hear,


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hear.] I mean Dr. Cox of America. (Mr. Douglass here turned to Dr. Cox of Hackney, which caused much laughter.) I do rejoice that there is another Dr. Cox in the world, of a very different character from the one in America, to redeem the name of Cox from the infamy that must necessarily settle down upon the head of that Cox, who, with wiles and subtlety, led the Evangelical Alliance astray upon this question. [Cheers.] I am glad -- I am delighted -- I am grateful -- profoundly grateful, in review of all the facts, that my friend -- the slave's friend -- Dr. Cox of Hackney, has been pleased to give us his presence to-night. [Renewed cheers.] But now, really if the slaveholder is watching for an opportunity to get rid of his slaves, what has he to do? Why, just nothing at all -- he has only to cease to do. He has to undo what he has already done; nothing more. He has only to tell the slave, "I have no longer any claim upon you as a slave." That is all that is necessary; and then the work is done. The Negro, simple in his understanding as he was represented this evening -- somewhat unjustly, by the by [referring to some remarks made in a former part of the evening by the vocalist, Mr. Henry Russell] -- would take care of the rest of the matter. He would have no difficulty in finding some way to gain his freedom, if his master only gave him permission so to do. The truth is, that the whole of America is cursed with slavery. There is upon our Northern and Western borders a land uncursed by slavery -- a territory ruled over by the British power. There --


The lion at a virgin's feet
Crouches, and lays his mighty paw
Upon her lap -- an emblem meet
Of England's queen and England's law. [Cheers.]

From the slave plantations of America the slave could run, under the guidance of the North-star, to that same land, and in the mane of the British lion he might find himself secure from the talons and beak of the American eagle. The American slave-holder has only to say to his slave, "To-morrow, I shall no longer hold you in bondage," and the slave forthwith goes, and is permitted -- not merely "permitted" -- oh! no, he is welcomed and received with open arms, by the British authorities; he is welcomed, not as a slave, but as a man; not as a bondman, but as a freeman; not as a captive, but as a brother. [Cheers.] He is received with kindness, and regarded and treated with respect as a man. The Americans have only to say to their slaves, "Go and be free;" and they go and are free. No power within the states, or out of the states, attempts to disturb the master in the exercise of his right of transferring his Negro from one country to the other. "Oh! but then," Dr. Cox would say, "brethren, although all this which Douglass states may be very true, yet you must know that there are some very poor masters, who are so situated in regard to pecuniary matters" -- for the doctor is a very indirect speaker -- "so situated, in regard to pecuniary concerns, that they would not be able to remove their slaves. I know a brother in the South -- a dear brother" (Mr. Douglass here imitated the tone and style of Dr. Cox, in a manner which caused great laughter) "to whom I spoke on this subject; and I told him what a great sin I thought it was for him to hold slaves; but he said to me, `Brother, I feel it as much as you do, [loud laughter], but what

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can I do? Here are my slaves; take them; you may have them; you may take them out of the state if your please.' Said he, "I could not; and I left them. [Renewed laughter.] Now what would you do?" said the doctor to the brethren at Manchester and Liverpool -- "what would you do, if placed in such difficult circumstances?" The fact is, there is no truth in the existence of these difficulties at all. Sir, let me tell you what has stood as a standing article in our anti-slavery journals for the last ten years. When this plea was first put forth in America, and those intrepid champions of the slave, Gerrit Smith, Arthur Tappan, and other noble-minded abolitionists heard of it, what did they do? They inserted their cards in all the most respectable papers in America, and stated that there were 10,000 dollars ready at the service of any poor slaveholders who might not have the means of removing the Negroes they were desirous of emancipating. [Cheers.] Now, sir, the slaveholders must have seen this advertisement, for whatever difficulties they have to encounter, they find none in seeing money. [Hear, and laughter.] But, sir, was there ever a demand for a single red copper of the whole of those 10,000 dollars? Never; never. Now what does this fact prove? Why that there were no slaveholders who stood in need of such assistance; not one who wanted it for the purpose for which it might have been easily obtained, to meet the "difficult circumstances" stated by Dr. Cox. How Dr. Cox could, knowing that fact, as he must have done -- for he is not so blind that he cannot see a dollar -- I say how he could set up this false and contemptible plea before the world, and attempt to mislead the public mind of England upon the subject -- I will not use a harsh expression, but I will say -- that I cannot see how he could reconcile its concealment with honesty at any rate. That is the strongest word I will use in regard to this portion of his conduct. [Hear, hear.] He certainly knew better; at least, I think he must have known better; he ought to have done so; for it is astonishing how quickly he sees things generally. Another brother, the Reverend Doctor Marsh, also went into this subject, and told the brethren of the difficult circumstances in which the slaveholders were placed, especially the "Christian slaveholders;" for, mark this, they never apologise for infidel slaveholders! [Hear.] You never heard one of the whole deputation apologise for that brutal man -- the uneducated slavedriver. No; it is the refined, polite, highly civilised, genteel, Christian part of the slaveholders, for whom they stand up and plead. Yes; they apologise for what they call "Christian slaveholders" -- white blackbirds! [Loud cheers and laughter.]

Dr. Marsh stated, that if any persons in the United States were to emancipate their slaves, they would instantly be put into the penitentiary. [Laughter, and cries of "Oh, oh."] I have sometimes been astonished at the credulity of their English auditory; but I do not wonder at it, for John Bull is pretty honest himself, and he thinks other people are so also. But, yet, I must say that I am surprised when I find sagacious, intelligent men really carried away by such assertions as these. Why, sir, if this statement were true, another tinge, deeper and darker than any previously exhibited, would have appeared in the character of the American people. What! men are not only permitted to enslave, not only allowed by the government to rob and plunder, but actually compelled by the first government upon earth to live by plunder! Why, these men, by such statements,


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stamp their country with an infamy deeper than I can cast upon it by anything I could say; that is, admitting their statements were true. But, sir, America, deeply fallen and lost as she is to moral principle, has not embodied in the form of law any such compulsion of slavery as that which these reverend gentlemen attempt to make out. No, sir; the slaveholder can free his slaves. Why, he has the same right to emancipate as he has to whip his Negro. He whips him; he has a right to do what he pleases with his own; he may give his slave away. I was given away [hear]; I was given away by my father, or the man who was called my father, to his own brother. My master was a methodist class-leader. [Hear.] When he found that I had made my escape, and was a good distance out of his reach, he felt a little spark of benevolence kindled up in his heart; and he cast his eyes upon a poor brother of his -- a poor, wretched, out-at-elbows, hat-crown-knocked-in brother [laughter] -- a reckless brother, who had not been so fortunate as to possess such a number of slaves as he had done. Well, looking over the pages of some British newspaper, he saw his son Frederick a fugitive slave in a foreign country, in a state of exile; and he determined now, for once in his life, that he would be a little generous to this brother out at the elbows, and he therefore said to him, "Brother, I have got a Negro; that is, I have not got him, but the English have [cheers]. When a slave, his name was Frederick -- Fred. Bailey. We called him Fred" (for the Negroes never have but one name); "but he fancied that he was something better than a slave, and so he gave himself two names. Well, that same Fred. is now actually changed into Frederick Douglass, and is going through the length and breadth of Great Britain, telling the wrongs of the slaves. Now, as you are very poor, and certainly will not be made poorer by the gift I am about to bestow upon you, I transfer to you all legal right to property in the body and soul of the said Frederick Douglass." [Laughter.] Thus was I transferred by my father to my uncle. Well, really, after all, I feel a little sympathy for my uncle, Hugh Auld. I did not wish to be altogether a losing game for Hugh, although, certainly, I had no desire myself to pay him any money; but if any one else felt disposed to pay him money, of course they might do so. But at any rate I confess I had less reluctance at seeing £150 paid to poor Hugh Auld than I should have had to see the same amount of money paid to his brother, Thomas Auld, for I really think poor Hugh needed it, while Thomas did not. Hugh is a poor scamp. I hope he may read or hear of what I am now saying. I have no doubt he will, for I intend to send him a paper containing a report of this meeting.

By-the-by, though, I want to tell the audience one thing which I forgot, and that is, that I have as much right to sell Hugh Auld as Hugh Auld had to sell me. If any of you are disposed to make a purchase of him, just say the word. [Laughter.] However, whatever Hugh and Thomas Auld may have done, I will not traffic in human flesh at all; so let Hugh Auld pass, for I will not sell him. [Cheers.] As to the kind friends who have made the purchase of my freedom, I am deeply grateful to them. I would never have solicited them to have done so, or have asked them for money for such a purpose. I never could have suggested to them the propriety of such an act. It was done from the prompting or suggestion of their own hearts, entirely independent of myself. While I entertain the deepest gratitude to them for what they have done, I do not feel like shouldering the


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responsibility of the act. I do, however, believe that there has been no right or noble principle sacrificed in the transaction. Had I thought otherwise, I would have been willingly "a stranger and a foreigner, as all my fathers were," through my life, in a strange land, supported by those dear friends whom I love in this country. I would have contented myself to have lived here rather than have had my freedom purchased at the violation or expense of principle. But, as I said before, I do not believe that any good principle has been violated. If there is anything to which exception may be taken, it is in the expediency, and not the principle, involved in the transaction. I wish to say one word more respecting another body who have been alluded to this evening. You see that I keep harping on the church and its ministers, and I do so for the best of all reasons, that however low the ministry in a country may be (they may take this admission and make what they can of it: I know they will interpret it in their own favour, as it may be so interpreted) -- that however corrupt the stream of politics and religion, nevertheless the fountain of the purity, as well as of the corruption, of the community may be found in the pulpit. (Hear.) It is in the pulpit and the press -- in the publications especially of the religious press -- that we are to look for our right moral sentiment. [Hear, hear.] I assert this as my deliberate opinion, I know, against the views of many of those with whom I co-operate. I do believe, however dark and corrupt they may be in any country, the ministers of religion are always higher -- of necessity higher -- than the community about them. I mean, of course, as a whole. There are exceptions. They cannot be enunciating those great abstract principles of right without their exerting, to some extent, a healthy influence upon their own conduct, although their own conduct is often in violation of those great principles. I go, therefore, to the churches, and I ask the churches of England for their sympathy and support in this contest. Sir, the growing contact and communication between this country and the United States, renders it a matter of the utmost importance that the subject of slavery in America should be kept before the British public. [Hear.] The reciprocity of religious deputations -- the interchange of national addresses -- the friendly addresses on peace and upon the subject of temperance -- the ecclesiastical connections of the two countries -- their vastly increasing commercial intercourse resulting from the recent relaxation of the restrictive laws upon the commerce of this country -- the influx of British literature into the United States as well as of American literature into this country -- the constant tourists -- the frequent visits to America by literary and philanthropic men -- the improvement in the facility for the transportation of letters through the post-office, in steam navigation, as well as other means of locomotion -- the extraordinary power and rapidity with which intelligence is transmitted from one country to another -- all conspire to make it a matter of the utmost importance that Great Britain should maintain a healthy moral sentiment on the subject of slavery. Why, sir, does slavery exist in the United States? Because it is reputable: that is the reason. Why is it thus reputable in America? Because it is not so disreputable out of America as it ought to be. Why, then, is it not so disreputable out of the United States as it should be? Because its real character has not been so fully known as it ought to have been. Hence, sir, the necessity of an Anti-slavery League [Hear, hear, and cheers] -- of men leaguing


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themselves together for the purpose of enlightening, raising, and fixing the public attention upon this foulest of all blots upon our common humanity. Let us, then, agitate this question. [Hear.] But, sir, I am met by the objection, that to do so in this country, is to excite, irritate, and disturb the slaveholder. Sir, this is just what I want. I wish the slaveholder to be irritated. I want him jealous: I desire to see him alarmed and disturbed. Sir, by thus alarming him, you have the means of blistering his conscience, and it can have no life in it unless it is blistered. Sir, I want every Englishman to point to the star-spangled banner and say --


United States! Your banner wears
Two emblems, one of fame:
Alas! the other that it bears
Reminds us of your shame,
The white man's liberty in types
Stands blazoned on your stars;
But what's the meaning of your stripes?
They mean your Negroes' scars.

"Oh!" it is said, "but by so doing you would stir up war between the two countries." Said a learned gentleman to me, "You will only excite angry feelings, and bring on war, which is a far greater evil than slavery." Sir, you need not be afraid of war with America while they have slavery in the United States. We have 3,000,000 of peace-makers there. Yes, 3,000,000, sir -- 3,000,000 who have never signed the pledge of the noble Burrit, 20 but who are, nevertheless, as strong and as invincible peace-men as even our friend Elihu Burrit himself. Sir, the American slaveholders can appreciate these peace-makers: 3,000,000 of them stand there on the shores of America, and when our statesmen get warm, why these 3,000,000 keep cool. [Laughter]. When our legislators' tempers are excited, these peace-makers say, "Keep your tempers down, brethren!" The Congress talks about going to war, but these peace-makers suggest, "But what will you do at home?" When these slaveholders declaim about shouldering their muskets, buckling on their knapsacks, girding on their swords, and going to beat back and scourge the foreign invaders, they are told by these friendly monitors, "Remember, your wives and children are at home! Reflect that we are at home! We are on the plantations. You had better stay at home and look after us. True, we eat the bread of freemen; we take up the room of freemen; we consume the same commodities as freemen: but still we have no interest in the state, no attachment for the country: we are slaves! You cannot fight a battle in your own land, but, at the first tap of a foreign drum -- the very moment the British standard shall be erected upon your soil, at the first trumpet-call to freedom -- millions of slaves are ready to rise and to strike for their own liberty." [Loud cheers.] The slaveholders know this; they understand it well enough. No, no; you need not fear about war between Great Britain and America. 21 When Mr. Polk tells you that he will have the whole of Oregon, he only means to brag a little. When this boasting president tells you that he will have all that territory or go to war, he intends to retract his words the first favourable opportunity. When Mr. Webster says, fiercely, If you do not give back Madison Washington -- the noble Madison Washington, who broke his fetters on the deck of the Creole, 22 achieved

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liberty for himself and one hundred and thirty-five others, and took refuge within your dominions -- when this proud statesman tells you, that if you do not send this noble Negro back to chains and slavery, he will go to war with you, do not be alarmed; he does not mean any such thing. Leave him alone; he will find some way -- some diplomatic stratagem almost inscrutable to the eyes of common men -- by which to take back every syllable he has said. [Hear, hear.] You need not fear that you will have any war with America while slavery lasts, and while you as a people maintain your opposition to the accursed system. When you cease to feel any hostility to slavery, the slave-holders will then have no fear that the slaves will desert them for you, or will hate and fight against them in favour of you. So that, if only as a means of preserving peace, it were wise policy to advocate in England the cause of the emancipation of the American slaves. But, sir, England not only has power to do great good in this matter, but it is her duty to do so to the utmost of her ability. But I fear I am speaking too long. [Loud cheers, and cries of "No, no"; "Go on, go on."] Oh, my friends, you are very kind, but you are not very wise in saying so, allow me to tell you, with all due deference.

I must conclude, and that right early; for I have to speak again to-morrow night almost 200 miles from this place; and it becomes necessary, therefore, that I should bring my address to a close, if only from motives of self-preservation, which the Americans say is the first law of slavery. But before I sit down, let me say a few words at parting to my London friends, as well as those from the country, for I have reason to believe that there are friends present from all parts of the United Kingdom. I look around this audience, and I see those who greeted me when I first landed on your soil. I look before me here, and I see representatives from Scotland, where I have been warmly received and kindly treated. Manchester is represented on this occasion, as well as a number of other towns. Let me say one word to all these dear friends at parting; for this is probably the last time I shall ever have an opportunity of speaking to a British audience, at all events in London. I have now been in this country nineteen months, and I have travelled through the length and breadth of it. I came here a slave. I landed upon your shores a degraded being, lying under the load of odium heaped upon my race by the American press, pulpit, and people. I have gone through the wide extent of this country, and have steadily increased -- you will pardon me for saying so, for I am loath to speak of myself -- steadily increased the attention of the British public to this question. Wherever I have gone, I have been treated with the utmost kindness, with the greatest deference, the most assiduous attention; and I have every reason to love England. Sir, liberty in England is better than slavery in America. Liberty under a monarchy is better than despotism under a democracy. [Cheers.] Freedom under a monarchical government is better than slavery in support of the American capitol. Sir, I have known what it was for the first time in my life to enjoy freedom in this country. I say that I have here, within the last nineteen months, for the first time in my life, known what it was to enjoy liberty. I remember, just before leaving Boston for this country, that I was even refused permission to ride in an omnibus. Yes, on account of the colour of my skin, I was kicked from a public conveyance just a few days before I left that "cradle of liberty." Only three months before leaving that "home of freedom,"


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I was driven from the lower floor of a church, because I tried to enter as other men, forgetting my complexion, remembering only that I was a man, thinking, moreover, that I had an interest in the gospel there proclaimed; for these reasons I went into the church, but was driven out on account of my colour. Not long before I left the shores of America I went on board several steamboats, but in every instance I was driven out of the cabin, and all the respectable parts of the ship, onto the forward deck, among horses and cattle, not being allowed to take my place with human beings as a man and a brother. Sir, I was not permitted even to go into a menagerie or to a theatre, if I wished to have gone there. The doors of every museum, lyceum and athenaeum were closed against me if I wanted to go into them. There was the gallery, if I desired to go. I was not granted any of these common and ordinary privileges of free men. All were shut against me. I was mobbed in Boston, driven forth like a malefactor, dragged about, insulted, and outraged in all directions. Every white man -- no matter how black his heart -- could insult me with impunity. I came to this land -- how greatly changed! Sir, the moment I stepped on the soil of England -- the instant I landed on the quay at Liverpool -- I beheld people as white as any I ever saw in the United States; as noble in their exterior, and surrounded by as much to commend them to admiration, as any to be found in the wide extent of America. But, instead of meeting the curled lip of scorn, and seeing the fire of hatred kindled in the eyes of Englishmen, all was blandness and kindness. I looked around in vain for expressions of insult. Yes, I looked around with wonder! for I hardly believed my own eyes. I searched scrutinizingly to find if I could perceive in the countenance of an Englishman any disapprobation of me on account of my complexion. No; there was not one look of scorn or enmity. [Loud cheers.] I have travelled in all parts of the country: in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I have journeyed upon highways, byways, railways, and steamboats. I have myself gone, I might say, with almost electric speed; but at all events my trunk has been overtaken by electric speed. In none of these various conveyances, or in any class of society, have I found any curled lip of scorn, or an expression that I could torture into a word of disrespect of me on account of my complexion; not one. Sir, I came to this city accustomed to be excluded from athenaeums, literary institutions, scientific institutions, popular meetings, from the colosseum -- if there were any such in the United States -- and every place of public amusement or instruction. Being in London, I of course felt desirous of seizing upon every opportunity of testing the custom at all such places here, by going and presenting myself for admission as a man. From none of them was I ever ejected. I passed through them all; your colosseums, museums, galleries of painting, even into your House of Commons; and, still more, a nobleman -- I do not know what to call his office, for I am not acquainted with anything of the kind in America, but I believe his name was the Marquis of Lansdowne -- permitted me to go into the House of Lords, and hear what I never heard before, but what I had long wished to hear, but which I could never have heard anywhere else, the eloquence of Lord Brougham. In none of these places did I receive one word of opposition against my entrance. Sir, as my friend Buffum, who used to travel with me, would say, "I mean to tell these facts, when I go back to America." [Cheers.] I will even let


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them know, that wherever else I may be a stranger, that in England I am at home. [Renewed cheering.] That whatever estimate they may form of my character as a human being, England has no doubt with reference to my humanity and equality. That, however much the Americans despise and affect to scorn the Negroes, that Englishmen -- the most intelligent, the noblest and best of Englishmen -- do not hesitate to give the right hand of fellowship, of manly fellowship, to a Negro such as I am. I will tell them this, and endeavour to impress upon their minds these facts, and shame them into a sense of decency on this subject. Why, sir, the Americans do not know that I am a man. They talk of me as a box of goods; they speak of me in connexion with sheep, horses, and cattle. But here, how different! Why, sir, the very dogs of old England know that I am a man! [Cheers.] I was in Beckenham for a few days, and while at a meeting there, a dog actually came up to the platform, put his paws on the front of it, and gave me a smile of recognition as a man. [Laughter.] The Americans would do well to learn wisdom upon this subject from the very dogs of Old England; for these animals, by instinct, know that I am a man; but the Americans somehow or other do not seem to have attained to the same degree of knowledge. But I go back to the United States not as I landed here -- I came a slave; I go back a free man. I came here a thing -- I go back a human being. I came here despised and maligned -- I go back with reputation and celebrity; for I am sure that if the Americans were to believe one tithe of all that has been said in this country respecting me, they would certainly admit me to be a little better than they had hitherto supposed I was. I return, but as a human being in better circumstances than when I came. Still I go back to toil. I do not go to America to sit still, remain quiet, and enjoy ease and comfort. Since I have been in this land I have had every inducement to stop here. The kindness of my friends in the north has been unbounded. They have offered me house, land, and every inducement to bring my family over to this country. They have even gone so far as to pay money, and give freely and liberally, that my wife and children might be brought to this land. I should have settled down here in a different position to what I should have been placed in the United States. But, sir, I prefer living a life of activity in the service of my brethren. I choose rather to go home; to return to America. I glory in the conflict, that I may hereafter exult in the victory. I know that victory is certain. [Cheers.] I go, turning my back upon the ease, comfort, and respectability which I might maintain even here, ignorant as I am. Still, I will go back, for the sake of my brethren. I go to suffer with them; to toil with them; to endure insult with them; to undergo outrage with them; to lift up my voice in their behalf; to speak and write in their vindication; and struggle in their ranks for that emancipation which shall yet be achieved by the power of truth and of principle for that oppressed people. [Cheers.] But, though I go back thus to encounter scorn and contumely, I return gladly. I go joyfully and speedily. I leave this country for the United States on the 4th of April, which is near at hand. I feel not only satisfied, but highly gratified, with my visit to this country. I will tell my colored brethren how Englishmen feel for their miseries. It will be grateful to their hearts to know that while they are toiling on in chains and degradation, there are in England hearts leaping with indignation at the wrongs inflicted upon them. I will endeavour to have


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daguerreotyped on my heart this sea of upturned faces, and portray the scene to my brethren when I reach America; I will describe to them the kind looks, the sympathetic desires, the determined hostility to everything like slavery sitting heavily or beautifully on the brow of every auditory I have addressed since I came to England. Yes, I will tell these facts to the Negroes, to encourage their hearts and strengthen them in their sufferings and toils; and I am sure that in this I shall have your sympathy as well as their blessing. Pardon me, my friends, for the disconnected manner in which I have addressed you; but I have spoken out of the fulness of my heart; the words that came up went out, and though not uttered altogether so delicately, refinedly, and systematically as they might have been, still, take them as they are -- the free upgushings of a heart overborne with grateful emotions at the remembrance of the kindness I have received in this country from the day I landed until the present moment. With these remarks I beg to bid all my dear friends, present and at a distance -- those who are here and those who have departed -- farewell!

Farewell Speech of Mr. Frederick Douglass Previously to Embarking on Board The Cambria Upon His Return to America, Delivered at the Valedictory Soiree Given to Him at the London Tavern on March 30, 1847, London, 1847

The Right to Criticize American Institutions
At the meetings of the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York during the second week of May, Douglass was officially welcomed [home] by his leading co-workers. On this occasion he made his first important address since his return, and startled even the most avid Garrisonians with the fervor of his remarks. He out-Garrisoned the Garrisonians as he


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launched into a bitter attack upon his native land,... replying to Garrison who had referred to the Negro orator's "love and attachment" to America....

The full text of the speech, as it appeared in the New York Tribune, was reprinted as a pamphlet by a group of Baltimore slaveholders who pointed to it as proof of the dangers inherent in the Abolitionist movement. 23 But most readers of the Tribune agreed with John Greenleaf Whittier that it was "a notable refutation of the charge of the natural inferiority urged against the colored man." 24 [I:75 -- 76]

Speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 11, 1847

I am very glad to be here. I am very glad to be present at this Anniversary, glad again to mingle my voice with those with whom I have stood identified, with those with whom I have laboured, for the last seven years, for the purpose of undoing the burdens of my brethren, and hastening the day of their emancipation.

I do not doubt but that a large portion of this audience will be disappointed, both by the manner and the matter of what I shall this day set forth. The extraordinary and unmerited eulogies, which have been showered upon me, here and elsewhere, have done much to create expectations which, I am well aware, I can never hope to gratify. I am here, a simple man, knowing what I have experienced in Slavery, knowing it to be a bad system, and desiring, by all Christian means, to seek its overthrow. I am not here to please you with an eloquent speech, with a refined and logical address, but to speak to you the sober truths of a heart overborne with gratitude to God that we have in this land, cursed as it is with Slavery, so noble a band to second my efforts and the efforts of others, in the noble work of undoing the yoke of bondage, with which the majority of the States of this Union are now unfortunately cursed.

Since the last time I had the pleasure of mingling my voice with the voices of my friends on this platform, many interesting and even trying events have occurred to me. I have experienced, within the last eighteen or twenty months, many incidents, all of which it would be interesting to communicate to you, but many of these I shall be compelled to pass over at this time, and confine my remarks to giving a general outline of the manner and spirit with which I have been hailed abroad, and welcomed at the different places which I have visited during my absence of twenty months.

You are aware, doubtless, that my object in going from this country, was to get beyond the reach of the clutch of the man who claimed to own me as his property. I had written a book, giving a history of that portion of my life spent in the gall and bitterness and degradation of Slavery, and in which, I also identified my oppressors as the perpetrators of some of the most atrocious crimes. This had deeply incensed them against me, and stirred up within them the purpose of revenge, and, my whereabouts being known, I believed it necessary for me, if I would preserve my liberty, to leave the shores of America, and take up my abode in some other land, at least until the clamor had subsided. I went to England, monarchical England, to get rid of Democratic Slavery; and I must confess that at the very threshold I was satisfied that I had gone to the right place. Say what you will of England -- of the degradation -- of the poverty -- and there is much of


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it there, -- say what you will of the oppression and suffering going on in England at this time, there is Liberty there, not only for the white man, but for the black man also. The instant that I stepped upon the shore, and looked into the faces of the crowd around me, I saw in every man a recognition of my manhood, and an absence, a perfect absence, of everything like that disgusting hate with which we are pursued in this country. [Cheers.] I looked around in vain to see in any man's face a token of the slightest aversion to me on account of my complexion. Even the cabmen demeaned themselves to me as they did to other men, and the very dogs and pigs of old England treated me as a man! I cannot, however, my friends, dwell upon this anti-prejudice, or rather the many illustrations of the absence of prejudice against colour in England, but will proceed, at once, to defend the right and duty of invoking English aid and English sympathy for the overthrow of American Slavery, for the education of coloured Americans, and to forward, in every way, the interests of humanity; inasmuch as the right of appealing to England for aid in overthrowing Slavery in this country has been called in question, in public meetings and by the press, in this city.

I cannot agree with my friend Mr. Garrison, in relation to my love and attachment to this land. I have no love for America, as such; I have no patriotism. I have no country. What country have I? The institutions of this country do not know me, do not recognize me as a man. I am not thought of, spoken of, in any direction, out of the anti-slavery ranks, as a man. I am not thought of, or spoken of, except as a piece of property belonging to some Christian slaveholder, and all the religious and political institutions of this country, alike pronounce me a slave and a chattel. Now, in such a country as this, I cannot have patriotism. The only thing that links me to this land is my family, and the painful consciousness that here there are three millions of my fellow-creatures, groaning beneath the iron rod of the worst despotism that could be devised, even in Pandemonium; that here are men and brethren, who are identified with me by their complexion, identified with me by their hatred of Slavery, identified with me by their love and aspirations for liberty, identified with me by the stripes upon their backs, their inhuman wrongs and cruel sufferings. This, and this only, attaches me to this land, and brings me here to plead with you, and with this country at large, for the disenthralment of my oppressed countrymen, and to overthrow this system of Slavery which is crushing them to the earth. How can I love a country that dooms three millions of my brethren, some of them my own kindred, my own brothers, my own sisters, who are now clanking the chains of Slavery upon the plains of the South, whose warm blood is now making fat the soil of Maryland and of Alabama, and over whose crushed spirits rolls the dark shadow of oppression, shutting out and extinguishing forever, the cheering rays of that bright sun of Liberty lighted in the souls of all God's children by the Omnipotent hand of Deity itself? How can I, I say, love a country thus cursed, thus bedewed with the blood of my brethren? A country, the Church of which, and the Government of which, and the Constitution of which, is in favour of supporting and perpetuating this monstrous system of injustice and blood? I have not, I cannot have, any love for this country, as such, or for its Constitution. I desire to see its overthrow as speedily as possible,


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and its Constitution shivered in a thousand fragments, rather than this foul curse should continue to remain as now. [Hisses and Cheers.]

In all this, my friends, let me make myself understood. I do not hate America as against England, or against any other country, or land. I love humanity all over the globe. I am anxious to see righteousness prevail in all directions. I am anxious to see Slavery overthrown here; but, I never appealed to Englishmen in a manner calculated to awaken feelings of hatred or disgust, or to influence their prejudices towards America as a nation, or in a manner provocative of national jealousy or ill-will; but I always appealed to their conscience -- to the higher and nobler feelings of the people of that country, to enlist them in this cause. I always appealed to their manhood, that which preceded their being Englishmen, (to quote an expression of my friend Phillips,) I appealed to them as men, and I had a right to do so. They are men, and the slave is a man, and we have a right to call upon all men to assist in breaking his bonds, let them be born when, and live where they may.

But it is asked, "What good will this do?" or "What good has it done?" "Have you not irritated, have you not annoyed your American friends, and the American people rather, than done them good?" I admit that we have irritated them. They deserve to be irritated. I am anxious to irritate the American people on this question. As it is in physics, so in morals, there are cases which demand irritation, and counter irritation. The conscience of the American public needs this irritation. And I would blister it all over, from centre to circumference, until it gives signs of a purer and a better life than it is now manifesting to the world.

But why expose the sins of one nation in the eyes of another? Why attempt to bring one people under the odium of another people? There is much force in this question. I admit that there are sins in almost every country which can be best removed by means confined exclusively to their immediate locality. But such evils and such sins pre-suppose the existence of a moral power in this immediate locality sufficient to accomplish the work of renovation. But where, pray, can we go to find moral power in this nation, sufficient to overthrow Slavery? To what institution, to what party shall we apply for aid? I say, we admit that there are evils which can be best removed by influences confined to their immediate locality. But in regard to American Slavery, it is not so. It is such a giant crime, so darkening to the soul, so blinding in its moral influence, so well calculated to blast and corrupt all the humane principles of our nature, so well adapted to infuse its own accursed spirit into all around it, that the people among whom it exists have not the moral power to abolish it. Shall we go to the Church for this influence? We have heard its character described. Shall we go to politicians or political parties? Have they the moral power necessary to accomplish this mighty task? They have not. What are they doing at this moment? Voting supplies for Slavery -- voting supplies for the extension, the stability, the perpetuation of Slavery in this land. What is the Press doing? The same. The pulpit? Almost the same. I do not flatter myself that there is moral power in the land sufficient to overthrow Slavery, and I welcome the aid of England. And that aid will come. The growing intercourse between England and this country, by means of steam-navigation, the relaxation of the protective system in various countries in Europe, gives us an opportunity


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to bring in the aid, the moral and Christian aid of those living on the other side of the Atlantic. We welcome it, in the language of the resolution. We entreat our British friends to continue to send in their remonstrances across the deep, against Slavery in this land. And these remonstrances will have a powerful effect here. Sir, the Americans may tell of their ability, and I have no doubt they have it, to keep back the invader's hosts, to repulse the strongest force that its enemies may send against this country. It may boast, and it may rightly boast, of its capacity to build its ramparts so high that no foe can hope to scale them, to render them so impregnable as to defy the assault of the world. But, Sir, there is one thing it cannot resist, come from what quarter it may. It cannot resist TRUTH. You cannot build your forts so strong, nor your ramparts so high, nor arm yourself so powerfully, as to be able to withstand the overwhelming MORAL SENTIMENT against Slavery now flowing into this land. For example; prejudice against color is continually becoming weaker in this land (and more and more consider this) sentiment as unworthy a lodgment in the breast of an enlightened community. And the American abroad dare not now, even in a public conveyance, to lift his voice in defence of this disgusting prejudice.

I do not mean to say that there are no practices abroad which deserve to receive an influence favourable to their extermination, from America. I am most glad to know that Democratic freedom -- not the bastard democracy, which, while loud in its protestations of regard for liberty and equality, builds up Slavery, and, in the name of Freedom, fights the battles of Despotism -- is making great strides in Europe. We see abroad, in England especially, happy indications of the progress of American principles. A little while ago England was cursed by a Corn monopoly -- by that giant monopoly, which snatched from the mouths of the famishing poor the bread which you sent them from this land. The community, the people of England, demanded its destruction, and they have triumphed! We have aided them, and they aid us, and the mission of the two nations, hence-forth, is to serve each other.

Sir, it is said that, when abroad, I misrepresented my country on this question. I am not aware of any misrepresentation. I stated facts, and facts only. A gentleman of your own city, Rev. Dr. Cox, has taken particular pains to stigmatize me as having introduced the subject of Slavery illegitimately into the World's Temperance Convention. But what was the fact? I went to that Convention, not as a delegate. I went into it by the invitation of the Committee of the Convention. I suppose most of you know the circumstances, but I wish to say one word in relation to the spirit and the principle which animated me at the meeting. I went into it at the invitation of the Committee, and spoke not only at their urgent request, but by public announcement. I stood on the platform on the evening referred to, and heard some eight or ten Americans address the seven thousand people assembled in that vast Hall. I heard them speak of the temperance movement in this land. I heard them eulogize the temperance societies in the highest terms, calling on England to follow their example; (and England may follow them with advantage to herself;) but I heard no reference made to the 3,000,000 of people in this country who are denied the privileges, not only of temperance, but of all other societies. I heard not a word of the American slaves, who, if seven


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of them were found together at a temperance meeting, or any other place, would be scourged and beaten by their cruel tyrants. Yes, nine-and-thirty lashes is the penalty required to be inflicted by the law if any of the slaves get together in a number exceeding seven, for any purpose however peaceable or laudable. And while these American gentlemen were extending their hands to me, and saying, "How do you do, Mr. Douglass? I am most happy to meet you here," &c. &c. I knew that, in America, they would not have touched me with a pair of tongs. I felt, therefore, that that was the place and the time to call to remembrance the 3,000,000 of slaves, whom I aspired to represent on that occasion. I did so, not maliciously, but with a desire, only, to subserve the best interests of my race. I besought the American delegates, who had at first responded to my speech with shouts of applause, when they should arrive at home to extend the borders of their temperance societies so as to include the 500,000 coloured people in the Northern States of the Union. I also called to mind the facts in relation to the mob that occurred in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1842. I stated these facts to show to the British public how difficult it is for a coloured man in this country to do anything to elevate himself or his race from the state of degradation in which they are plunged; how difficult it is for him to be virtuous or temperate, or anything but a menial, an outcast. You all remember the circumstances of the mob to which I have alluded. A number of intelligent, philanthropic, manly coloured men, desirous of snatching their coloured brethren from the fangs of intemperance, formed themselves into a procession, and walked through the streets of Philadelphia with appropriate banners and badges and mottoes. I stated the fact that that procession was not allowed to proceed far, in the city of Philadelphia -- the American city of Brotherly Love, the city of all others loudest in its boasts of freedom and liberty -- before these noble-minded men were assaulted by the citizens, their banners torn in shreds and themselves trampled in the dust, and inhumanly beaten, and all their bright and fond hopes and anticipations, in behalf of their friends and their race, blasted by the wanton cruelty of their white fellow-citizens. And all this was done for no other reason than that they had presumed to walk through the street with temperance banners and badges, like human beings.

The statement of this fact caused the whole Convention to break forth in one general expression of intense disgust at such atrocious and inhuman conduct. This disturbed the composure of some of our American representatives, who, in serious alarm, caught hold of the skirts of my coat, and attempted to make me desist from my exposition of the situation of the coloured race in this country. There was one Doctor of Divinity there, the ugliest man that I ever saw in my life, who almost tore the skirts of my coat off, so vehement was he in his friendly attempts to induce me to yield the floor. But fortunately the audience came to my rescue, and demanded that I should go on, and I did go on, and, I trust, discharged my duty to my brethren in bonds and the cause of human liberty, in a manner not altogether unworthy the occasion.

I have been accused of dragging the question of Slavery into the Convention. I had a right to do so: It was the World's convention -- not the Convention of any sect, or number of sects -- not the Convention of any particular nation -- not a


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man's or a woman's Convention, not a black man's nor a white man's Convention, but the World's Convention, the Convention of ALL, black as well as white, bond as well as free. And I stood there, as I thought, a representative of the 3,000,000 of men whom I had left in rags and wretchedness, to be devoured by the accursed institution which stands by them, as with a drawn sword, ever ready to fall upon their devoted and defenceless heads. I felt, as I said to Dr. Cox, that it was demanded of me by conscience, to speak out boldly in behalf of those whom I had left behind. [Cheers.] And, Sir, (I think I may say this, without subjecting myself to the charge of egotism,) I deem it very fortunate for the friends of the slave, that Mr. Garrison and myself were there just at that time. Sir, the churches in this country have long repined at the position of the churches in England on the subject of Slavery. They have sought many opportunities to do away the prejudices of the English churches against American Slavery. Why, Sir, at this time there were not far from seventy ministers of the Gospel from Christian America, in England, pouring their leprous pro-slavery distilment into the ears of the people of that country, and by their prayers, their conversation, and their public speeches, seeking to darken the British mind on the subject of Slavery, and to create in the English public the same cruel and heartless apathy that prevails in this country in relation to the slave, his wrongs and his rights. I knew them by their continuous slandering of my race; and at this time, and under these circumstances, I deemed it a happy interposition of God, in behalf of my oppressed and misrepresented and slandered people, that one of their number should burst up through the dark incrustation of malice, and hate, and degradation, which had been thrown over them, and stand before the British public to open to them the secrets of the prison-house of bondage in America. [Cheers.] Sir, the slave sends no delegates to the Evangelical Alliance. [Cheers.] The slave sends no delegates to the World's Temperance Convention. Why? Because chains are upon his arms and fetters fast bind his limbs. He must be driven out to be sold at auction by some Christian slaveholder, and the money for which his soul is bartered must be appropriated to spread the Gospel among the heathen.

Sir, I feel that it is good to be here. There is always work to be done. Slavery is everywhere. Slavery goes everywhere. Slavery was in the Evangelical Alliance, looking saintly in the person of the Rev. Dr. Smythe; it was in the World's Temperance Convention, in the person of the Rev. Mr. Kirk. Dr. Marsh went about saying, in so many words, that the unfortunate slaveholders in America were so peculiarly situated, so environed by uncontrollable circumstances, that they could not liberate their slaves; that if they were to emancipate them they would be, in many instances, cast into prison. Sir, it did me good to go around on the heels of this gentleman. I was glad to follow him around for the sake of my country, for the country is not, after all, so bad as the Rev. Dr. Marsh represented it to be.

My fellow-countrymen, what think ye he said of you, on the other side of the Atlantic? He said you were not only pro-slavery, but that you actually aided the slaveholder in holding his slaves securely in his grasp; that, in fact, you compelled him to be a slaveholder. This I deny. You are not so bad as that. You do not compel the slaveholder to be a slaveholder.


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And Rev. Dr. Cox, too, talked a great deal over there; and among other things he said, "that many slaveholders -- dear Christian men! -- were sincerely anxious to get rid of their slaves"; and to show how difficult it is for them to get rid of their human chattels, he put the following case: A man living in a State, the laws of which compel all persons emancipating their slaves to remove them beyond its limits, wishes to liberate his slaves, but he is too poor to transport them beyond the confines of the State in which he resides; therefore he cannot emancipate them -- he is necessarily a slaveholder. But, Sir, there was one fact, which I happened, fortunately, to have on hand just at that time, which completely neutralized this very affecting statement of the Doctor's. It so happens that Messrs. Gerrit Smith and Arthur Tappan have advertised for the especial benefit of this afflicted class of slaveholders that they have set apart the sum of $10,000 to be appropriated in aiding them to remove their emancipated slaves beyond the jurisdiction of the State, and that the money would be forthcoming on application being made for it; but no such application was ever made! This shows that, however truthful the statements of these gentlemen may be concerning the things of the world to come, they are lamentably reckless in their statements concerning things appertaining to this world. I do not mean to say that they would designedly tell that which is false, but they did make the statements I have ascribed to them.

And Dr. Cox and others charge me with having stirred up warlike feelings while abroad. This charge, also, I deny. The whole of my arguments and the whole of my appeals, while I was abroad, were in favour of anything else than war. I embraced every opportunity to propagate the principles of peace while I was in Great Britain. I confess, honestly, that were I not a peace-man, were I a believer in fighting at all, I should have gone through England, saying to Englishmen, as Englishmen, there are 3,000,000 of men across the Atlantic who are whipped, scourged, robbed of themselves, denied every privilege, denied the right to read the Word of the God who made them, trampled under foot, denied all the rights of human-beings; go to their rescue; shoulder your muskets, buckle on your knapsacks, and in the invincible cause of Human Rights and Universal Liberty, go forth, and the laurels which you shall win will be as fadeless and as imperishable as the eternal aspirations of the human soul after that freedom which every being made after God's image instinctively feels is his birth-right. This would have been my course had I been a war man. That such was not my course, I appeal to my whole career while abroad to determine.


Weapons of war we have cast from the battle;
Truth is our armour, our watch-word is LOVE;
Hushed be the sword, and the musketry's rattle,
All our equipments are drawn from above.
Praise then the God of Truth,
Hoary age and ruddy youth,
Long may our rally be
Love, Light and Liberty,
Ever our banner the banner of Peace.

National Anti-Slavery Standard, May 20, 1847


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Letter to Thomas Van Rensselaer
TO THOMAS VAN RENSSELAER

Lynn, Massachusetts, May 18, '47

My dear Sir:

I am at home again; and, in compliance with your earnest request, avail myself of this, my first opportunity, to send you an article for your gallant little sheet. I have to thank you for the file you sent me on board the "Hendrick Hudson." I have given each number a hasty perusal, and have quite satisfied myself that you are on the right ground -- of the right spirit -- and that you possess the energy of head and of heart to make your paper a powerful instrument in defending, improving, and elevating our brethren in the (so called) free states, as well as hastening the downfall of the fierce and blood-thirsty evangelical tyrants in the slave States. Blow away on your "Ram's Horn"! 25 Its wild, rough, uncultivated notes may grate harshly on the ear of refined and cultivated chimers; but sure I am that its voice will be pleasurable to the slave, and terrible to the slaveholder. Let us have a full, clear, shrill, unmistakable sound. "No compromise -- no concealment" -- no lagging for those who tarry -- no "slurs" for popular favor -- no lowering your tone for the sake of harmony. The harmony of this country is discord with the ALMIGHTY. To be in harmony with God is to be in open discord and conflict with the powers of Church and State in this country. Both are drunk on the warm blood of our brethren. "Blow on -- blow on," and may the God of the oppressed give effect to your blowing.

Through the kindness of a friend, I have before me the New York Sun of 13th May. It contains a weak, puerile, and characteristic attack upon me, on account of my speech in the Tabernacle, before the American Anti-Slavery Society on the 11th instant. The article in question affords me a text from which I could preach you a long sermon; but I will neither trespass on your space, nor weary the patience of your readers, by treating the article in that way. I do not call attention to it, because I am anxious to defend myself from its malevolent contents, but to congratulate you upon the favorable change in the public mind which it indicates, and to enjoy a little (I trust innocent) sport at the expense of the editor.


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We have been laughed at and ridiculed so much, that I am glad, once in a while, to be able to turn the tables on our white brethren. The editor informs his readers, that his object in writing the article is, to protest against "the unmitigated abuse heaped upon our country by the colored man Douglass." Now, who will doubt the patriotism of a man who will venture so much on behalf of his country? The Sun is truly a patriot. "The colored man Douglass." Well done! Not "n -- r" Douglass -- not black, but colored -- not monkey, but man -- the colored MAN Douglass. This, dear sir, is a decided improvement on the old mode of speaking of us. In the brilliant light of the Sun, I am no longer a monkey, but a MAN -- and, henceforth, I may claim to be treated as a man by the Sun. In order to prepare the patient for the pill, and prove his title to be regarded an unmixed American, he gilds the most bloody and detestable tyranny all over with the most holy and beautiful sentiments of liberty. Hear him -- "Freedom of speech in this country should receive the greatest LATITUDE." This sounds well; but is it not a strange text, from which to preach a sermon in favor of putting down freedom of speech by mob violence? "If men do not speak freely of our institutions, how are we to discover their errors or reform their abuses, should any exist?" A pertinent question, truly, and worthy of the thought and study of the profound and philosophical editor of the Sun. But now see a nobler illustration of the story of the "cow and the milk pail" -- blowing hot and blowing cold, and blowing neither hot nor cold. The editor says -- "There is, however, a limit to this very freedom of speech. We cannot be permitted to go into a gentleman's house, accept his hospitality, yet ABUSE his fare, and we have no right to abuse a country under whose government, we are safely residing and securely protected."

Here we have it, all reasoned out as plain as logic can make it -- the limit of freedom of speech accurately defined. But allow me to throw a little light upon the Sun's logic -- if I can do so without entirely spoiling his simile. Poor thing, it would be a pity to hurt that. Does it not strike you as being first rate? To my mind, it is the best thing in the whole piece, and lacks only one thing -- (but this probably makes no difference with the Sun -- it may be its chief merit,) and that is, likeness -- it lacks likeness. A gentleman's house and the government of this country are wholly dissimilar. Let me suggest to him -- without meaning any disrespect to you, that a cook shop (a thing which I am surprised he should ever forget) bears a far greater resemblance to the government of this country, than that of a gentleman's house and hospitality. Let cook shop represent Country -- "Bill of Fare" -- "Bill of Rights;" and the "Chief Cook" -- Commander-in-chief. -- (I fancy I hear the editor say, this looks better.) Enters editor of the Sun with a keen appetite. He reads the bill of fare. It contains the names of many palatable dishes. He asks the cook for soup, he gets "dish water." For salmon, he gets a serpent; for beef, he gets bullfrogs; for ducks, he gets dogs; for salt, he gets sand; for pepper, he gets powder; and for vinegar, he gets gall; in fact, he gets for you the very opposite of everything for which you ask, and which from the bill of fare, and loudmouthed professions, you had a right to expect. This is just the treatment which the colored people receive in this country at the hand of this government. Its Bill of Rights is to practise towards us a bill of wrongs. Its self-evident truths are self-evident lies. Its majestic


-- 85 --
liberty, malignant tyranny. The foundation of this government -- the great Constitution itself -- is nothing more than a compromise with man-stealers, and a cunningly devised complication of falsehoods, calculated to deceive foreign Nations into a belief that this is a free country; at the same time that it pledges the whole Civil, Naval and Military power of the Nation to keep three millions of people in the most abject slavery. He says I abuse a country under whose government I am safely residing, and securely protected. I am neither safely residing, nor securely protected in this country. I am living under a government which authorized Hugh Auld to rob me of seven hundred and fifty dollars, and told me if I do not submit, if I resisted this robber, I should be put to death. This is the protection given to me, and every other colored man from the South, and no one knows this better than the Editor of the New York Sun. And this piece of robbery, the Sun calls the rights of the Master, and says that the English people recognized those rights by giving me money with which to purchase my freedom. The Sun complains that I defend the right of invoking England for the overthrow of American Slavery. Why not receive aid from England to overthrow American Slavery, as well as for Americans to send bread to England to feed the hungry? Answer me that! What would the Sun have said, if the British press had denounced this country for sending a shipload of grain into Ireland, and denied the right of American people to sympathize, and succor the afflicted and famine-stricken millions of that unhappy land? 26 What would it have said? Why, it and the whole American Press would have poured forth one flood of unmixed censure and scathing rebuke. England would have been denounced; the British public would have been branded as murderers. And if England had forbidden Captain Forbes to land his cargo, it might have been regarded just cause for war. And yet the interference in the one case is as justifiable as in the other. My Dear Sir, I have already extended this letter to a much greater length than I at first intended, and will now stop by wishing you every success in your noble enterprise.

Ever yours in our righteous cause,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, June 4, 1847


-- 86 --

Bibles for the Slaves
The above is the watch-word of a recent but quite numerous class of persons, whose ostensible object seems to be to give Bibles to the American Slaves. They propose to induce the public to give, of their abundance, a large sum of money, to be placed in the hands of the American Bible Society, to be employed in purchasing Bibles and distributing them among the Slaves.

In this apparently benevolent and Christian movement they desire to unite all persons friendly to the long imbruted and long neglected Slave. The religious press has already spoken out in its favor. So full of promise and popularity is this movement that many of the leaders in Church and State are pressing into it. Churches, which have all along slumbered unmoved over the cruel wrongs and bitter woes of the Slave, -- which have been as deaf as Death to every appeal of the fettered bondman for liberty, -- are at last startled from their heartless stupor by this new cry of Bibles for the Slaves. Ministers of Religion, and learned Doctors of Divinity, who would not lift a finger to give the Slave to himself, are now engaged in the professed work of giving to the Slave the Bible. Into this enterprize have been drawn some who have been known as advocates for emancipation. One Anti-Slavery Editor has abandoned his position at the head of a widely circulating journal, and has gone forth to lecture and solicit donations in its behalf. Even the American Bible Society, which a few years ago peremptorily refused to entertain the offensive subject, and refused the offer of ten thousand dollars, has at last relented, if not repented, and now condescends to receive money for this object. To be sure we have had no public assurance of this from that society. It is, however, generously inferred by the friends of the movement, that they will consent to receive money for this purpose. Now what does all this mean? Are the men engaged in this movement sane? and if so, can they be honest? Do they seriously believe that the American Slave can receive the Bible? Do they believe that the American Bible Society cares one straw about giving Bibles to the Slaves? Do they suppose that Slaveholders, in open violation of their wicked laws, will allow their Slaves to have the Bible? How do they mean to get the Bible among the Slaves? It cannot go itself, -- it must be carried. And who among them all has either the faith or the folly to undertake the distribution of Bibles among the Slaves?

Then, again, of what value is the Bible to one who may not read its contents? Do they intend to send teachers into the Slave States, with the Bibles, to teach the Slaves to read them? Do they believe that on giving the Bible, the unlettered Slave will all at once -- by some miraculous transformation -- become a man of letters, and be able to read the sacred Scriptures? Will they first obtain the Slaveholder's consent, or will they proceed without it? And if the former, by what means will they seek it? And if the latter, what success do they expect?

Upon these points, and many others, the public ought to be enlightened before they are called upon to give money and influence to such an enterprize. As a mere indication of the growing influence of Anti-Slavery sentiment this movement may be regarded by Abolitionists with some complacency; but as a means of abolishing the Slave system of America, it seems to me a sham, a delusion, and


-- 87 --
a snare, and cannot be too soon exposed before all the people. It is but another illustration of the folly of putting new cloth into an old garment, and new wine into old bottles. The Bible is peculiarly the companion of liberty. It belongs to a new order of things -- Slavery is of the old -- and will only be made worse by an attempt to mend it with the Bible. The Bible is only useful to those who can read and practise its contents. It was given to Freemen, and any attempt to give it to the Slave must result only in hollow mockery.

Give Bibles to the poor Slaves! It sounds well. It looks well. It wears a religious aspect. It is a Protestant rebuke to the Pope, and seems in harmony with the purely evangelical character of the great American people. It may also forestall some movement in England to give Bibles to our Slaves, -- and this is very desirable! Now admitting (however difficult it may be to do so) the entire honesty of all engaged in this movement, -- the immediate and only effect of their efforts must be to turn off attention from the main and only momentous question connected with the Slave, and absorb energies and money in giving to him the Bible that ought to be used in giving him to himself. The Slave is property. He cannot hold property. He cannot own a Bible. To give him a Bible is but to give his master a Bible. The Slave is a thing, -- and it is the all commanding duty of the American people to make him a man. To demand this in the name of humanity, and of God, is the solemn duty of every living soul. To demand less than this, or anything else than this, is to deceive the fettered bondman, and to soothe the conscience of the Slaveholder on the very point where he should be most stung with remorse and shame.

Away with all tampering with such a question! Away with all trifling with the man in fetters! Give a hungry man a stone, and tell what beautiful houses are made of it, -- give ice to a freezing man, and tell him of its good properties in hot weather, -- throw a drowning man a dollar, as a mark of your good will, -- but do not mock the bondman in his misery, by giving him a Bible when he cannot read it.

The Liberty Bell, June, 1847


-- [89] --

Part Two: From the Founding of the North Star to the Compromise of 1850

-- 91 --

Letter to Henry Clay
On Friday, December 3, 1847, a new era in Negro journalism in the United States was inaugurated. The first issue of The North Star came off the press, its masthead proclaiming the slogan: "Right is of no Sex -- Truth is of no Color -- God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren." The role of the paper was that of a "terror to evil doers," and while it would be "mainly Anti-Slavery," its columns would be "freely opened to the candid and decorous discussion of all measures and topics of a moral and humane character, which may serve to enlighten, improve and elevate mankind...." A report of the National Convention of Colored People held at Troy early in October, and a long letter by Douglass to Henry Clay commenting on the Kentuckian's speech in behalf of colonization, were the main features of the first number. The first page stated that the subscription rates were two dollars a year, "always in advance," and that advertisements not exceeding ten lines would be carried three times for one dollar.

The editors were Douglass and Martin R. Delany who had just resigned the editorship of the Pittsburgh Mystery, a Negro paper. William C. Nell, a self-taught Negro and a devoted Garrisonian, was listed as publisher. The printing office was located at 25 Buffalo Street, in the Talman Building, opposite Reynolds Arcade. It was a simple room. Douglass' desk was in one corner; cases of type and the printing press occupied the rest of the space. Two white apprentices, William A. Atkinson and William Oliver, and Douglass' children assisted in setting the type, locking the forms, folding, wrapping and mailing the paper. Although Douglass had his own press, the paper itself was printed in the shop of the Rochester Democrat. 27

On the whole, reaction to the first issue was favorable. Samuel J. May spoke of his "delight" in reading the paper, Garrison praised it, and Edmund Quincy observed in the Liberator that its "literary and mechanical execution would do honor to any paper new or old, anti-slavery or pro-slavery, in the country." In England, Howitt's Journal augmented the chorus of approval with the remark: "The North Star may rank with any American paper, for ability and interest; it is full of buoyancy and variety...." 28

Not all joined in welcoming the new arrival. The New York Herald urged the people of Rochester to throw Douglass' printing press into the lake and exile the editor to Canada. The Albany Dispatch was a bit more subtle. It merely warned the citizens of Rochester that the presence of a paper published by "the n -- r pet of the British Abolitionists" would be a "serious detriment" to the community, and suggested that they "buy him off." Undoubtedly there were those in Rochester who approved of these suggestions, but they were a distinct minority. The Rochester Daily Advertiser observed that the mechanical appearance of the first issue was "exceedingly neat," that the leading article indicated "a high order of talent," and that the editor was "a man of much more than ordinary share of intellect." 29 [I:84 -- 85]

TO HENRY CLAY

Sir:

I have just received and read your Speech, delivered at the Mass Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, 13th November 1847, and after a careful and candid perusal of it, I am impressed with the desire to say a few words to you on one or two subjects which form a considerable part of that speech. You will, I am sure, pardon the liberty I take in thus publicly addressing you, when you are acquainted with the fact, that I am one of those "unfortunate victims" whose case you seem to commiserate, and have experienced the cruel wrongs of Slavery in my own person. It is with no ill will, or bitterness of spirit that I address you. My position under this government, even in the State of N.Y., is that of a disfranchised man. I can have, therefore, no political ends to serve, nor party antipathy to gratify. My "intents" are not wicked but truly charitable. I approach you simply in the character of one of the unhappy millions enduring the evils of Slavery, in this otherwise highly favored and glorious land.


-- 92 --

In the extraordinary speech before me, after dwelling at length upon the evils, disgrace, and dangers of the present unjust, mean, and iniquitous war waged by the United States upon Mexico, you disavow for yourself and the meeting, "in the most positive manner," any wish to acquire any foreign territory whatever for the purpose of introducing slavery into it. As one of the oppressed, I give you the full expression of sincere gratitude for this declaration, and the pledge which it implies, and earnestly hope that you may be able to keep your vow unsullied by compromises, (which, pardon me,) have too often marred and defaced the beauty and consistency of your humane declarations and pledges on former occasions. It is not, however, any part of my present intention to reproach you invidiously or severely for the past. Unfortunately for the race, you do not stand alone in respect to deviations from a strict line of rectitude. Poor, erring and depraved humanity, has surrounded you with a throng of guilty associates, it would not, therefore, be magnanimous in me to reproach you for the past, above all others.

Forgetting the things that are behind, I simply propose to speak to you of what you are at this time -- of the errors and evils of your present, as I think, wicked position, and to point out to you the path of repentance, which if pursued, must lead you to the possession of peace and happiness, and make you a blessing to your country and the world.

In the speech under consideration, you say,

"My opinions on the subject of slavery are well known; they have the merit, if it be one, of consistency, uniformity and long duration."

The first sentence is probably true. Your opinions on slavery may be well known, but that they have the merit of consistency or of uniformity, I cannot so readily admit. If the speech before me be a fair declaration of your present opinions, I think I can convince you that even this speech abounds with inconsistencies such as materially to affect the consolation you seem to draw from this source. Indeed if you are uniform at all, you are only so in your inconsistencies.

You confess that

"Slavery is a great evil, and a wrong to its victims, and you would rejoice if not a single slave breathed the air within the limits of our country."

These are noble sentiments, and would seem to flow from a heart overborne with a sense of the flagrant injustice and enormous cruelty of slavery, and of one earnestly and anxiously longing for a remedy. Standing alone, it would seem that the author had long been in search of some means to redress the wrongs of the "unfortunate victims" of whom he speaks -- that his righteous soul was deeply grieved, every hour, on account of the foul blot inflicted by this curse on his country's character.

But what are the facts? You are yourself a Slaveholder at this moment, and your words on this point had scarcely reached the outer circle of the vast multitude by which you were surrounded, before you poured forth one of the most helpless, illogical, and cowardly apologies for this same wrong, and "great evil" which I ever remember to have read. Is this consistency, and uniformity? if so, the oppressed may well pray the Most High that you may be soon delivered from it.


-- 93 --

Speaking of "the unfortunate victims" of this "great evil," and "wrong," you hold this most singular and cowardly excuse for perpetuating the wrongs of my "unfortunate" race.

"But here they are to be dealt with as well as we can, with a due consideration of all circumstances affecting the security and happiness of both races."

What do you mean by the security, safety and happiness of both races? do you mean that the happiness of the slave is augmented by his being a slave, and if so, why call him an "unfortunate victim." Can it be that this is mere cant, by which to seduce the North into your support, on the ground of your sympathy for the slave. I cannot believe you capable of such infatuation. I do not wish to believe that you are capable of either the low cunning, or the vanity which your language on this subject would seem to imply, but will set it down to an uncontrollable conviction of the innate wickedness of slavery, which forces itself out, and defies even your vast powers of concealment.

But further, you assert,

"Every State has the supreme, uncontrolled and exclusive power to decide for itself whether slavery shall cease or continue within its limits, without any exterior intervention from any quarter."

Here I understand you to assert the most profligate and infernal doctrine, that any State in this Union has a right to plunder, scourge and enslave any part of the human family within its borders, just so long as it deems it for its interest so to do, and that no one or body of persons beyond the limits of said state has a right to interfere by word or deed against it. Is it possible that you hold this monstrous and blood-chilling doctrine? If so, what confidence can any enlightened lover of liberty place in your pretended opposition to Slavery. I know your answer to all this, but it only plunges you into lower depths of infamy than the horrible doctrines avowed above. You go on to say:

"In States where the Slaves outnumber the whites, as is the case in several [which I believe are only two out of fifteen] the blacks could not be emancipated without becoming the governing power in these states."

This miserable bug-bear is quite a confession of the mental and physical equality of the races. You pretend that you are a Republican. You loudly boast of your Democratic principles: why then do you object to the application of your principles in this case. Is the democratic principle good in one case, and bad in another? Would it be worse for a black majority to govern a white minority than it now is for the latter to govern the former? But you conjure up an array of frightful objections in answer to this.

"Collisions and conflicts between the two races would be inevitable, and after shocking scenes of rapine and carnage, the extinction or expulsion of the blacks would certainly take place."

How do you know that any such results would be inevitable? Where, on the page of history, do you find anything to warrant even such a conjecture? You will probably point me to the Revolution in St. Domingo, 30 the old and threadbare falsehood under which democratic tyrants have sought a refuge for the last forty years. But the facts in that direction are all against you. It has been clearly proven that that revolution was not the result of emancipation, but of a cruel


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attempt to re-enslave an already emancipated people. I am not aware that you have a single fact to support your truly terrible assertion, while on the other hand I have many all going to show what is equally taught by the voice of reason and of God, "that it is always safe to do right." The promise of God is, "that thy light shall break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward: then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry and he will say, Here I am."

The history of the world is in conformity with the words of inspired wisdom. Look, for instance, at the history of Emancipation in the British West Indies. There the blacks were, and still are, an overwhelming majority. Have there been any "shocking scenes of rapine and carnage, extinction or expulsion." You know there have not. Why then do you make use of this unfounded and irrational conjecture to frighten your fellow-countrymen from the righteous performance of a simple act of justice to millions now groaning in almost hopeless bondage.

I now give your argument in support of the morality of your position.

"It may be argued that, in admitting the injustice of slavery, I grant the necessity of an instantaneous separation of that injustice. Unfortunately, however, it is not always safe, practicable or possible in the great movements of States or public affairs of nations, to remedy or repair the infliction of previous injustice. In the inception of it, we may oppose and denounce it by our most strenuous exertions, but, after its consummation, there is often no other alternative left us but to deplore its perpetration, and to acquiesce as the only alternative, in its existence, as a less evil than the frightful consequences which might ensue from the vain endeavor to repair it. Slavery is one of these unfortunate instances."

The cases which you put in support of the foregoing propositions, are only wanting in one thing, and that is analogy. The plundering of the Indians of their territory, is a crime to which no honest man can look with any degree of satisfaction. It was a wrong to the Indians then living, and how muchsoever we might seek to repair that wrong, the victims are far beyond any benefit of it; but with reference to the slave, the wrong to be repaired is a present one, the slave holder is the every day robber of the slave, of his birthright to liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness -- his right to be free is unquestionable -- the wrong to enslave him is self evident -- the duty to emancipate him is imperative. Are you aware to what your argument on this point leads? do you not plainly see that the greatest crimes that ever cursed our common earth, may take shelter under your reasoning, and may claim perpetuity on the ground of their antiquity?

Sir, I must pass over your allusions to that almost defunct and infernal scheme which you term "unmixed benevolence" for expelling not the slave but the free colored people from these United States, as well as your charge against the Abolitionists.

"It is a philanthropic and consoling reflection that the moral and physical condition of the African in the United States in a state of slavery is far better than it would have been had their ancestors not been brought from their native land."

I can scarce repress the flame of rising indignation, as I read this cold blooded


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and cruel sentence; there is so much of Satan dressed in the livery of Heaven, as well as taking consolation from crime, that I scarcely know how to reply to it. Let me ask you what has been the cause of the present unsettled condition of Africa? Why has she not reached forth her hand unto God? Why have not her fields been made Missionary grounds, as well as the Feejee Islands? Because of this very desolating traffic from which you seem to draw consolation. For three hundred years Christian nations, among whom we are foremost, have looked to Africa only as a place for the gratification of their lust and love of power, and every means have been adopted to stay the onward march of civilization in that unhappy land.

Your declaration on this point, places your consolation with that of the wolf in devouring the lamb. You next perpetrate what I conceive to be the most revolting blasphemy. You say:

"And if it should be the decree of the Great Ruler of the Universe, that their descendants shall be made instruments in his hands in the establishment of civilization and the Christian religion throughout Africa -- our regrets on account of the original wrong will be greatly mitigated."

Here, Sir, you would charge home upon God the responsibility of your own crimes, and would seek a solace from the pangs of a guilty conscience by sacrilegiously assuming that in robbing Africa of her children, you acted in obedience to the great purposes, and were but fulfilling the decrees of the Most High God; but as if fearing that this refuge of lies might fail, you strive to shuffle off the responsibility of this "great evil" on Great Britain. May I not ask if you were fulfilling the great purposes of God in the share you took in this traffic, and can draw consolation from that alleged fact, is it honest to make England a sinner above yourselves, and deny her all the mitigating circumstances which you apply to yourselves?

You say that "Great Britain inflicted the evil upon you." If this be true, it is equally true that she inflicted the same evil upon herself; but she has had the justice and the magnanimity to repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance. You copied her bad example, why not avail yourself of her good one also?

Now, Sir, I have done with your Speech, though much more might be said upon it. I have a few words to say to you personally.

I wish to remind you that you are not only in the "autumn," but in the very winter of life. Seventy-one years have passed over your stately brow. You must soon leave this world, and appear before God, to render up an account of your stewardship. For fifty years of your life you have been a slaveholder. You have robbed the laborer who has reaped down your fields, of his rightful reward. You are at this moment the robber of nearly fifty human beings, of their liberty, compelling them to live in ignorance. Let me ask if you think that God will hold you guiltless in the great day of account, if you die with the blood of these fifty slaves clinging to your garments. I know that you have made a profession of religion, and have been baptized, and am aware that you are in good and regular standing in the church, but I have the authority of God for saying that you will stand rejected at his bar, unless you "put away the evil of your doings from before his eyes -- cease to do evil, and learn to do well -- seek judgment, relieve the oppressed -- and plead


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for the widow." You must "break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free," or take your place in the ranks of "evil doers," and expect to "reap the reward of corruption."

At this late day in your life, I think it would be unkind for me to charge you with any ambitious desires to become the President of the United States. I may be mistaken in this, but it seems that you cannot indulge either the wish or expectation. Bear with me, then, while I give you a few words of further counsel, as a private individual, and excuse the plainness of one who has felt the wrongs of Slavery, and fathomed the depths of its iniquity.

Emancipate your own slaves. Leave them not to be held or sold by others. Leave them free as the Father of his country left his, 31 and let your name go down to posterity, as his came down to us, a slaveholder, to be sure, but a repentant one. Make the noble resolve, that so far as you are personally concerned, "America shall be Free."

In asking you to do this, I ask nothing which in any degree conflicts with your argument against general emancipation. The dangers which you conjecture of the latter cannot be apprehended of the former. Your own slaves are too few in number to make them formidable or dangerous. In this matter you are without excuse. I leave you to your conscience, and your God,

And subscribe myself,

Faithfully, yours,

Frederick Douglass

The North Star, December 3, 1847


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What of the Night?
A crisis in the Anti-Slavery movement of this country, is evidently at hand. The moral and religious, no less than the political firmaments, North and South, at home and abroad, are studded with brilliant and most significant indications, pointing directly to a settlement of this all-commanding subject. Slavery is doomed to destruction; and of this slaveholders are rapidly becoming aware. Opposed or encouraged, the grand movement for its overthrow has, under God, attained a point of progress when its devoted advocates may press its claims in the full assurance that success will soon crown their righteous endeavors. We have labored long and hard. The prospect has at times been gloomy, if not hopeless. At present, we feel hopeful. In our humble judgment, there is no power within reach of the slaveholder, with all their arts, cunning and depravity, which can uphold a system at once so dark, foul and bloody as that of American slavery. The power which they have derived from the unconstitutional and perfidious annexation of Texas to the United States; the vast territories which they may acquire by our atrocious war with distracted and enfeebled Mexico; the sacrilegious support which they receive from a corrupt church and degenerate priesthood; the character and position they secure by a slaveholding President, are all transient, temporary and unavailing. They are powerful, but must give way to a mightier power. -- Like huge trees in the bed of a mighty river, they only await the rising tide which, without effort, shall bear them away to the vortex of destruction. The Spirit of Liberty is sweeping in majesty over the whole European continent, encountering and shattering dynasties, overcoming and subverting monarchies, causing thrones to crumble, courts to dissolve, and royalty and despotism to vanish like shadows before the morning sun. This spirit cannot be bound by geographical boundaries or national restrictions. It hath neither flesh nor bones; there is no way to chain it; swords and guns, armies and ramparts, are as impotent to stay it as they would be if directed against the Asiatic cholera. We cannot but be affected. These stupendous overturnings throughout the world, proclaim in the ear of American slaveholders, with all the terrible energy of an earthquake, the downfall of slavery. They have heard the royal sound -- witness their reluctance on the floor of Congress to pass resolutions congratulating the French on the downfall of royalty and the triumph of republicanism; witness the course of that prince of tyrants, John C. Calhoun; witness the mean and heartless response given by the misnamed Democrats of the country. These friends of the hell-born system of slavery are painfully aware that the cause of liberty and equality are one the world over; and that its triumph in any portion of the globe foreshadows and hastens the downfall of tyranny throughout the world.

Not among the least important and significant signs of the times, are the recent debates and occurrences in Washington. A combination of events has within a few days transpired there, which may well be regarded as a Providential interference in behalf of the enslaved and plundered of our land. The bold attempt of more than seventy slaves to escape their chains -- their unfortunate and mortifying recapture -- the wild clamor for the blood of the men who are willing to aid


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them in their escape -- the mobocratic demonstrations against the Era office -- the violent and assassin speeches made in both branches of Congress -- their utter failure to intimidate the noble-hearted Giddings, Palfrey, and Hale -- the sovereign and increasing contempt with which these gentlemen treat the bullying speeches of these bowie-knife legislators, are not only signs, but facts, fixing attention on slavery, and demonstrating a progress in public opinion, directly pointing to the speedy overthrow of slavery, or a dissolution of our unhallowed Union. Should the latter come, the former must come; slavery is doomed in either case. God speed the day! Never could there have been a better place, or more fitting opportunity for such facts, than at the place and time which they transpired. Slaves escaping from the Capital of the "model Republic"! What an idea! -- running from the Temple of Liberty to be free! Then, too, our slaveholding Belshazzars were in the midst of feasting and rejoicing over the downfall of Louis Philippe, and the establishment of a republic in France! They were all pleasure and joyous delight; "but pleasures are like poppies spread." Their joy was soon turned into moaning, their laughter into fury.

The hand-writing on the wall to these joyous congratulationists, was the fact, that more than seventy thousand dollars' worth of their human cattle had made a peaceful attempt to gain their liberty by flight. 32 At once these thoughts of glorious liberty abroad gave way to the more urgent demands of slavery at home. These "worthless" Negroes are valuable. These miserable creatures, which we would gladly get rid of, must be brought back. And lo and behold! these very men who had been rejoicing over French liberty, are now armed kidnappers, and even on the Sabbath day have gone forth on the delectable business of man-hunting. Well, they have succeeded in overtaking and throttling their victims; they have brought them back before the musket's mouth, and doubtless most of them have been scourged for their temerity, and sold into Louisiana and Texas, where they will be worked to death in seven years; but as sure as there is a God, this will not be the last of it. Slavery in the District of Columbia will receive a shock from this simple event, which no earthly power can prevent or cure. The broad eye of the nation will be opened upon slavery in the District as it has never before; the North and West will feel keenly the damning disgrace of their Capital being a slave mart, and a deeper hatred of slavery will be engendered in the popular mind throughout the Union.

The North Star, May 5, 1848


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Prejudice against Color
Prejudice against color! Pray tell us what color? Black? brown? copper color? yellow? tawny? or olive? Native Americans of all these colors everywhere experience hourly indignities at the hands of persons claiming to be white. Now, is all this for color's sake? If so, which of these colors excites such commotion in those sallow-skinned Americans who call themselves white? Is it black? When did they begin to be so horrified at black? Was it before black stocks came into fashion? Black coats? black hats? black walking canes? black reticules? black umbrellas? black-walnut tables? black ebony picture frames and sculptural decorations? black eyes, hair and whiskers? bright black shoes, and glossy black horses? How this American colorphobia would have lashed itself into a foam at the sight of the celebrated black goddess Diana, of Ephesus! How it would have gnashed upon the old statue and hacked away at it out of sheer spite at its color! What exemplary havoc it would have made of the most celebrated statues of antiquity. Forsooth they were black! Their color would have been their doom. These half-white Americans owe the genius of sculpture a great grudge. She has so often crossed their path in the hated color, it would fare hard with her if she were to fall into their clutches. By the way, it would be well for Marshall and other European sculptors to keep a keen lookout upon all Americans visiting their collections. American colorphobia would be untrue to itself if it did not pitch battle with every black statue and bust that came in its way in going the rounds. A black Apollo, whatever the symmetry of his proportions, the majesty of his attitude, or the divinity of his air, would meet with great good fortune if it escaped mutilation at its hands, or at least defilement from its spittle. If all foreign artists, whose collections are visited by Americans, would fence off a corner of their galleries for a "Negro pew," and staightway colonize in thither every specimen of ancient and modern art that is chiselled or cast in black, it would be wise precaution. The only tolerable substitute for such colonization would be plenty of whitewash, which would avail little as a peace-offering to brother Jonathan unless freshly put on: in that case a thick coat of it might sufficiently placate his outraged sense of propriety to rescue the finest models of art from American Lynch-law: but it would not be best to presume too far, for colorphobia has no lucid intervals, the fit is on all the time. The anti-black feeling, being "a law of nature," must have vent; and unless it be provided, wherever it goes, with a sort of portable Liberia to scrape the offensive color into it twitches and jerks in convulsions directly. But stop -- this anti-black passion is, we are told, "a law of nature," and not to be trifled with! "Prejudice against color" "a law of nature!" Forsooth! What a sinner against nature old Homer was! He goes off in


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ecstasies in his description, of the black Ethiopians, praises their beauty, calls them the favorites of the gods, and represents all the ancient divinities as selecting them from all the nations of the world as their intimate companions, the objects of their peculiar complacency. If Homer had only been indoctrinated into this "law of nature," he would have insulted his deities by representing them as making Negroes their chosen associates. What impious trifling with this sacred "law," was perpetrated by the old Greeks, who represented Minerva their favorite goddess of Wisdom as an African princess. Herodotus pronounces the Ethiopians the most majestic and beautiful of men. The great father of history was fated to live and die in the dark, as to this great "law of nature!" Why do so many Greek and Latin authors adorn with eulogy the beauty and graces of the black Memnon who served at the siege of Troy, styling him, in their eulogiums, the son of Aurora? Ignoramuses! They knew nothing of this great "law of nature." How little reverence for this sublime "law" had Solon, Pythagoras, Plato, and those other master spirits of ancient Greece, who, in their pilgrimage after knowledge, went to Ethiopia and Egypt, and sat at the feet of black philosophers, to drink in wisdom. Alas for the multitudes who flocked from all parts of the world to the instructions of that Negro, Euclid, who three hundred years before Christ, was at the head of the most celebrated mathematical school in the world. However learned in the mathematics, they were plainly numbskulls in the "law of nature!"

How little had Antiochus the Great the fear of this "law of nature" before his eyes, when he welcomed to his court, with the most signal honors, the black African Hannibal; and what an impious perverter of this same law was the great conqueror of Hannibal, since he made the black poet Terence one of his most intimate associates and confidants. What heathenish darkness brooded over the early ages of Christianity respecting this "law of nature." What a sin of ignorance! The most celebrated fathers of the church, Origen, Cyprian, Tertullian, Augustine, Clemens, Alexandrinus, and Cyril -- why were not these black African bishops colonized into a "Negro pew," when attending the ecclesiastical councils of their day? Alas, though the sun of righteousness had risen on primitive Christians, this great "law of nature" had not! This leads us reverently to ask the age of this law. A law of nature, being a part of nature, must be as old as nature: but perhaps human nature was created by piecemeal, and this part was over-looked in the early editions, but supplied in a later revisal. Well, what is the date of the revised edition? We will save our readers the trouble of fumbling for it, by just saying that this "law of nature" was never heard of till long after the commencement of the African slave trade; and that the feeling called "prejudice against color," has never existed in Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Italian States, Prussia, Austria, Russia, or in any part of the world where colored persons have not been held as slaves. Indeed, in many countries, where multitudes of Africans and their descendants have been long held slaves, no prejudice against color has ever existed. This is the case in Turkey, Brazil, and Persia. In Brazil there are more than two millions of slaves. Yet some of the highest offices of state are filled by black men. Some of the most distinguished officers in the Brazilian army are blacks and mulattoes. Colored lawyers and physicians are


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found in all parts of the country. Besides this, hundreds of the Roman Catholic clergy are black and colored men, these minister to congregations made up indiscriminately of blacks and whites.

The North Star, May 5, 1848

The Rights of Women
Next to Abolition and the battle for equal rights for the Negro people, the cause closest to Douglass' heart was woman's rights. In the anti-slavery agitation women took an active and significant part, and no one knew better than Douglass how deeply the Negro people were indebted to the tireless efforts of the women's anti-slavery societies. In reports from communities he was visiting, Douglass regularly devoted space in his paper to descriptions of the work of the anti-slavery women....

While Douglass believed that the anti-slavery movement was doing much "for the elevation and improvement of women," he understood fully the need for an independent, organized movement to achieve equal rights for women. On July 14, 1848, The North Star, which featured the slogan, "Right is of no sex," carried an historic announcement:

"A Convention to discuss the Social, Civil and Religious Condition and Rights of Women, will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, New York, on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July instant.

"During the first day, the meetings will be exclusively for women, which all are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and others, both ladies and gentlemen, will address the Convention."

Thirty-five women and thirty-two men, courageous enough to run the risk of being branded "hermaphrodites" and "Aunt Nancy Men," responded to the call for the world's first organized gathering for woman's rights. Douglass was the only man to play a prominent part in the proceedings.

A "Declaration of Sentiments" adopted by the convention proclaimed: "The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man and toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her." Sixteen facts were "submitted to a candid world" by way of proof, after which the Declaration demanded that women "have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States." Eleven resolutions were then introduced which made such demands as the right of women to personal and religious freedom, the right to vote and to be elected to public office, to testify in courts, equality in marriage and the right to their own children, the right to own property and to claim their own wages; the right to education and equality in trades and professions. 33

The only resolution that aroused controversy and was not unanimously adopted was the ninth, asserting that it was "the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise." Many of the delegates, even Lucretia Mott, felt that the demand for the right to vote was too advanced for the times and would only heap ridicule on the entire movement. But Elizabeth Cady Stanton who had introduced the proposal and was determined to press the issue, and looked about the Convention for an ally. "I knew Frederick, from personal experience, was just the man for the work," she told an audience of suffragists years later. Hurrying to Douglass' side, Mrs. Stanton read the resolution and asked him to speak on the question. Douglass promptly arose, and addressed the delegates. He argued convincingly that political equality was essential for the complete liberation of women. The resolution was adopted by a small majority. 34
[II:15 -- 17]


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THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN

One of the most interesting events of the past week, was the holding of what is technically styled a Woman's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. The speaking, addresses, and resolutions of this extraordinary meeting was almost wholly conducted by women; and although they evidently felt themselves in a novel position, it is but simple justice to say that their whole proceedings were characterized by marked ability and dignity. No one present, we think, however much he might be disposed to differ from the views advanced by the leading speakers on that occasion, will fail to give them credit for brilliant talents and excellent dispositions. In this meeting, as in other deliberative assemblies, there were frequent differences of opinion and animated discussion; but in no case was there the slightest absence of good feeling and decorum. Several interesting documents setting forth the rights as well as the grievances of women were read. Among these was a Declaration of Sentiments, to be regarded as the basis of a grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women. We should not do justice to our own convictions, or to the excellent persons connected with this infant movement, if we did not in this connection offer a few remarks on the general subject which the Convention met to consider and the objects they seek to attain. In doing so, we are not insensible that the bare mention of this truly important subject in any other than terms of contemptuous ridicule and scornful disfavor, is likely to excite against us the fury of bigotry and the folly of prejudice. A discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency by many of what are called the wise and the good of our land, than would a discussion of the rights of women. It is, in their estimation, to be guilty of evil thoughts, to think that woman is entitled to equal rights with man. Many who have at last made the discovery that the Negroes have some rights as well as other members of the human family, have yet to be convinced that women are entitled to any. Eight years ago a number of persons of this description actually abandoned the anti-slavery cause, lest by giving their influence in that direction they might possibly be giving countenance to the dangerous heresy that woman, in respect to rights, stands on an equal footing with man. In the judgment of such persons the American slave system, with all its concomitant horrors, is less to be deplored than this wicked idea. It is perhaps needless to say, that we cherish little sympathy for such sentiments or respect for such prejudices. Standing as we do upon the watch-tower of human freedom, we cannot be deterred from an expression of our approbation of any movement, however humble, to improve and elevate the character of any members of the human family. While it is impossible for us to go into this subject at length, and dispose of the various objections which are often urged against such a doctrine as that of female equality, we are free to say that in respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. We go farther, and express our conviction that all political rights which it is expedient for man to exercise, it is equally so for woman. All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman, and if that government only is just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the


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world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land. Our doctrine is that "right is of no sex." We therefore bid the women engaged in this movement our humble Godspeed.

The North Star, July 28, 1848

The Revolution of 1848
Speech at West India Emancipation celebration, Rochester, New York, August 1, 1848

Mr. President and Friends:

We have met to commemorate no deed of sectional pride, or partial patriotism; to erect no monument to naval or military heroism; to applaud the character or commend the courage of no blood-stained warrior; to gloat over no fallen or vanquished foe; to revive no ancient or obsolete antipathy; to quicken and perpetuate the memory of no fierce and bloody struggle; to take from the ashes of oblivion no slumbering embers of fiery discord.

We attract your attention to no horrid strife; to no scenes of blood and carnage, where foul and unnatural murder carried its true designation, because regimentally attired. We brighten not the memories of brave men slain in the hostile array and the deadly encounter. The celebration of such men, and such deeds, may safely be left to others. We [can] thank Heaven, that [to us] is committed a more grateful and congenial task.

The day we have met to commemorate, is marked by no deeds of violence, associated with no scenes of slaughter, and excites no malignant feelings. Peace, joy and liberty shed a halo of unfading and untarnished glory around this annual festival. On this occasion, no lonely widow is reminded of a slaughtered husband; no helpless orphans are reminded of slaughtered fathers; no aged parents are reminded of slaughtered sons; no lovely sisters meet here to mourn over the


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memory of slaughtered brothers. Our gladness revives no sorrow; our joyous acclamation awakens no responsive mourning. The day, the deed, the event, which we have met to celebrate, is the Tenth Anniversary of West India Emancipation -- a day, a deed, an event, all glorious in the annals of Philanthropy, and as pure as the stars of heaven! On this day, ten years ago, eight hundred thousand slaves became freemen. To congratulate our disenthralled brethren of the West Indies on their peaceful emancipation; to express our unfeigned gratitude to Almighty God, their merciful deliverer; to bless the memory of the noble men through whose free and faithful labors the grand result was finally brought about; to hold up their pure and generous examples to be admired and copied; and to make this day, to some extent, subservient to the sacred cause of human freedom in our own land, and throughout the world, is the grand object of our present assembling.

I rejoice to see before me white as well as colored persons; for though this is our day peculiarly, it is not so exclusively. The great fact we this day recognize -- the great truth to which we have met to do honor, belongs to the whole human family. From this meeting, therefore, no member of the human family is excluded. We have this day a free platform, to which, without respect to class, color, or condition, all are invited. Let no man here feel that he is a mere spectator -- that he has no share in the proceedings of this day, because his face is of a paler hue than mine. The occasion is not one of color, but of universal man -- from the purest black to the clearest white, welcome, welcome! In the name of liberty and justice, I extend to each and to all, of every complexion, form and feature, a heartfelt welcome to a full participation in the joys of this anniversary.

The great act which distinguishes this day, and which you have this day heard read, is so recent, and its history perhaps so fresh in the memory of all, as to make a lengthy and minute detail of the nature and character of either superfluous. In the address which I had the honor to deliver twelve months since, on an occasion similar to this, at our neighboring town, Canandaigua, I entered quite largely into that investigation; and presuming that I now stand before thousands of the same great audience who warmly greeted me there, I shall be allowed to call your attention to a more extended view of the cause of human freedom than seemed possible at that time. The subject of human freedom, in all its grades, forms and aspects, is within the record of this day. Tyranny, in all its varied guises, may on this day be exposed -- oppression and injustice denounced, and liberty held up to the admiration of all.

In appearing here to-day, and presuming to be the first to address you, frankness requires me to proclaim, at the outset, what otherwise might become evident in the end, my own inaptitude to the task which your Committee of Arrangements have in their kindness assigned me. Aside from other causes of my incompetency which I might name, and which I am sure all present would appreciate, I may, in justice to myself, state that my other numerous engagements and occupations have denied me the necessary time for suitable preparation. I would not, however, forget that there is an apparent fitness in your selection. I have stood on each side of Mason and Dixon's line; I have endured the frightful horrors of slavery, and have enjoyed the blessings of freedom. I can enter fully


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into the sorrows of the bondman and the blessings of freemen. I am one of yourselves, enduring daily the proscription and confronting the tide of malignant prejudice by which the free colored man of the North is continually and universally opposed. There is, therefore, at least an apparent fitness in your selection. If my address should prove dull and uninteresting, I am cut off from the plea that the incidents and facts of our times are commonplace and uninteresting. In this respect, our meetings is most fortunate. We live in stirring times, and amid thrilling events. There is no telling what a day may bring forth. The human mind is everywhere filled with expectation. The moral sky is studded with signs and wonder. High upon the whirlwind, Liberty rides as on a chariot of fire. Our brave old earth rocks with might agitation. Whether we look at home or abroad, Liberty greets us with the same majestic air.

We live in times which have no parallel in the history of the world. The grand commotion is universal and all-pervading. Kingdoms, realms, empires, and republics, roll to and fro like ships upon a stormy sea. The long pent up energies of human rights and sympathies, are at last let loose upon the world. The grand conflict of the angel Liberty with the monster Slavery, has at last come. The globe shakes with the contest. -- I thank God that I am permitted, with you, to live in these days, and to participate humbly in this struggle. We are, Mr. President, parties to what is going on around us. We are more than spectators of the scenes that pass before us. Our interests, sympathies and destiny compel us to be parties to what is passing around us. Whether the immediate struggle be baptized by the Eastern or Western wave of the waters between us, the water is one, and the cause one, and we are parties to it. Steam, skill, and lightning, have brought the ends of the earth together. Old prejudices are vanishing. The magic power of human sympathy is rapidly healing national divisions, and bringing mankind into the harmonious bonds of a common brotherhood. In some sense, we realize the sublime declaration of the Prophet of Patmos, "And there shall be no more sea." The oceans that divided us, have become bridges to connect us, and the wide "world has become a whispering gallery." The morning star of freedom is seen from every quarter of the globe.


From spirit to spirit -- from nation to nation,
From city to hamlet, thy dawning is cast;
And tyrants and slaves are like shadows of night, 35

Standing in the far West, we may now hear the earnest debate of the Western world. -- The means of intelligence is so perfect, as well as rapid, that we seem to be mingling with the thrilling scenes of the Eastern hemisphere.
In the month of February of the present year, we may date the commencement of the great movements now progressing throughout Europe. In France, at that time, we saw a king to all appearance firmly seated on his costly throne, guarded by two hundred thousand bayonets. In the pride of his heart, he armed himself for the destruction of liberty. A few short hours ended the struggle. A shout went up to heaven from countless thousands, echoing back to earth, "Liberty -- Equality -- Fraternity." The troops heard the glorious sound, and fraternized with the people in the court yard of the Tuilleries. -- Instantly the King was but a man. All


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that was kingly fled. The throne whereon he sat was demolished; his splendid palace sacked; his royal carriage was burnt with fire; and he who had arrayed himself against freedom, found himself, like the great Egyptian tyrant, completely overwhelmed. Out of the ruins of this grand rupture, there came up a Republican Provisional Government, and snatching the revolutionary motto of "Liberty -- Equality -- Fraternity," from the fiery thousands who had just rolled back the tide of tyranny, they commenced to construct a State in accordance with that noble motto. Among the first of its acts, while hard pressed from without and perplexed within, beset on every hand -- to the everlasting honor of that Government, it decreed the complete, unconditional emancipation of every slave throughout the French colonies. This act of justice and consistency went into effect on the 23d of last June. Thus were three hundred thousand souls admitted to the joys of freedom. -- That provisional government is now no more. The brave and brilliant men who formed it, have ceased to play a conspicuous part in the political affairs of the nation. For the present, some of the brightest lights are obscured. Over the glory of the great-hearted Lamartine, the dark shadow of suspicion is cast. -- The most of the members of that government are now distrusted, suspected, and slighted. -- But while there remains on the earth one man of sable hue, there will be one witness who will ever remember with unceasing gratitude this noble act of that provisional government.

Sir, this act of justice to our race, on the part of the French people, has had a widespread effect upon the question of human freedom in our own land. Seldom, indeed, has the slave power of the nation received what they regarded such bad news. It placed our slaveholding Republic in a dilemma which all the world could see. We desired to rejoice with her in her republicanism, but it was impossible to do so without seeming to rejoice over abolitionism. Here inconsistency, hypocrisy, covered even the brass face of our slaveholding Republic with confusion. Even that staunch Democrat and Christian, John C. Calhoun, found himself embarrassed as to how to vote on a resolution congratulating the French people on the triumph of Republicanism over Royalty.

But to return to Europe. France is not alone the scene of commotion. Her excitable and inflammable disposition makes her an appropriate medium for lighting more substantial fires. Austria has dispensed with Metternich, while all the German States are demanding freedom; and even iron-hearted Russia is alarmed and perplexed by what is going on around her. The French metropolis is in direct communication with all the great cities of Europe, and the influence of her example is everywhere powerful. The Revolution of the 24th February has stirred the dormant energies of the oppressed classes all over the continent. Revolutions, outbreaks, and provisional governments, followed that event in almost fearful succession. A general insecurity broods over the crowned heads of Europe. Ireland, too, the land of O'Connell, among the most powerful that ever advocated the cause of human freedom -- Ireland, ever chafing under oppressive rule, famine-stricken, ragged and wretched, but warm-hearted, generous and unconquerable Ireland, caught up the inspiring peal as it swept across the bosom of St. George's Channel, and again renewed her oath, to be free or die. Her cause is already sanctified by the martyrdom of Mitchell, and millions stand ready to


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be sacrificed in the same manner. England, too -- calm, dignified, brave old England -- is not unmoved by what is going on through the sisterhood of European nations. Her toiling sons, from the buzz and din of the factory and workshop, to her endless coal mines deep down below the surface of the earth, have heard the joyful sound of "Liberty -- Equality -- Fraternity" and are lifting their heads and hearts in hope of better days.

These facts though unfortunately associated with great and crying evils -- evils which you and I, and all of us must deeply deplore, are nevertheless interesting to the lovers of freedom and progress. They show that all sense of manhood and moral life, has not departed from the oppressed and plundered masses. They prove, that there yet remains an energy, when supported with the will that can roll back the combined and encroaching powers of tyranny and injustice. To teach this lesson, the movements abroad are important. Even in the recent fierce strife in Paris, 36 which has subjected the infant republic to a horrid baptism of blood, may be scanned a ray of goodness. The great mass of the Blouses behind the barricade of the Faubourgs, evidently felt themselves fighting in the righteous cause of equal rights. Wrong in head, but right in heart; brave men in a bad cause, possessing a noble zeal but not according to knowledge. Let us deplore their folly, but honor their courage; respect their aims, but eschew their means. Tyrants of the old world, and slaveholders of our own, will point in proud complacency to this awful outbreak, and say "Aha! aha! aha! we told you so -- we told you so: this is but the result of undertaking to counteract the purposes of the Most High, who has ordained and annointed Kings and Slaveholders to rule over the people. So much for attempting to make that equal, which God made unequal!" These sentiments in other words, have already been expressed by at least one of the classes to which I have referred. To such, I say rejoice while you may, for your time is short. The day of freedom and order, is at hand. The beautiful infant may stagger and fall, but it will rise, walk and become a man. There may, and doubtless will be, many failures, mistakes and blunders attending the transition from slavery to liberty. But what then? shall the transition never be made? Who is so base, as to harbor the thought? In demolishing the old framework of the Bastille of civil tyranny, and erecting on its ruins the beautiful temple of freedom, some lives may indeed be lost; but who so craven, when beholding the noble structure -- its grand proportions, its magnificent domes, its splendid towers and its elegant turrets, all pointing upward to heaven, as to say, That glorious temple ought never to have been built.

I look, Mr. President and friends, with the profoundest interest on all these movements, both in and out of France. Their influence upon our destiny here, is greater than may at first be perceived. Mainly, however, my confidence is reposing upon what is passing in England -- brave and strong old England. -- Among the first to do us wrong, and the first to do us justice. England the heart of the civilized world. The nation that gave us the deed -- the glorious deed, which we, on this day humbly celebrate.

In these days of great movements, she is neither silent nor slumbering. It is true, the world is not startled by her thunder, or dazzled by her splendor. Her stillness, however, is of deeper signification, than the noise of many nations. -- Like


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her own fuel, she has less blaze -- but more heat. Her passage to freedom is not through rivers of blood; she has discovered a more excellent way. What is bloody revolution in France, is peaceful reformation in England. The friends and enemies of freedom, meet not at the barricades thrown up in the streets of London; but on the broad platform of Exeter Hall. Their weapons are not pointed bayonets, but arguments. Friends of freedom rely not upon brute force but moral power. Their courage is not that of the tiger, but that of the Christian. Their ramparts are, right and reason, and can never be stormed! Their Hotel de Ville, is the House of Commons. Their fraternity, is the unanimous sympathy of the oppressed and hungry millions, whose war cry is not "Bread or death," but bread! bread! bread! -- Give this day our daily bread! That cry cannot, must not be disregarded. The last mails, brought us accounts of a stirring debate in the House of Commons, on the extension of suffrage. The opponents of the measure appeared like pigmies in the hands of giants. Friends of freedom in the House, are strong men. Among them is a man, whose name when I mention it, will call forth from this vast audience, a round of grateful applause. I allude to one, who, when he was but yet a youth, full eighteen years ago, dedicated himself to the cause of the West Indian bondman, and pleaded that cause with an eloquence the most pathetic, thrilling, and powerful ever before known to British ears -- and who, when he had stirred the British heart to the core, until justice to the West India bondman rung through the British Empire -- and the freedom which we celebrate, was gloriously triumphant; with life in hand, he left his native shores, to plead the cause of the bondman -- and went through our land taking his lot with the despised abolitionists, and nominally free colored man; amid floods of abuse and fiery trials, he hazarded his precious life in our cause, at last was finally induced to leave our shores by the strong persuasion of his friends lest the enemies of liberty should kill him, as they had sworn to do, and returned to his own country, and is now an honorable member of the British Parliament. That man, is George Thompson. In grateful remembrance of whose labors, I now propose three cheers.

If there be one living orator more than another to whom we are indebted, that man is George Thompson. Faithful to the monitions of conscience which led him to devote himself to the cause of the West Indian Slave, he has now consecrated his great talents to the cause of liberty in his own country. There are other noble men Champions of liberty in the House of Commons, deserving honorable mention; but none, so intimately connected with the great event which distinguishes this day, as that of George Thompson. His life has been mainly devoted to our cause -- and his very name carries with it an advocacy of our freedom. It is a gratifying fact, that Mr. Thompson, the reviled, abused, and rejected of this country, at this moment occupies the proud position of a British Legislator. It shows, that even in England, reward waits on merit. That a man with great talents and devotion to truth, may rise to eminence even in a monarchical and aristocratical government.

I now turn from the contemplation of men and movements in Europe, to our own great country. Great we are, in many and very important respects. As a nation, we are great in numbers and geographical extent -- great in wealth -- great


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in internal resources -- great in the proclamations of great truths -- great in our professions of republicanism and religion -- great in our inconsistencies -- great in our hypocrisy -- and great in our atrocious wickedness. While our boast is loud and long of justice, freedom, and humanity, the slavewhip rings to the mockery; while we are sympathising with the progress of freedom abroad, we are extending the foul curse of slavery at home; while we are rejoicing at the progress of freedom in France, Italy, Germany, and the whole European continent, we are propagating slavery in Oregon, New Mexico, California, and all our blood-bought possessions in the South and South-west. -- While we are engaged in congratulating the people of the East on casting down tyrants, we are electing tyrants and men-stealers to rule over us. Truly we are a great nation! At this moment, three million slaves clank their galling fetters and drag their heavy chains on American soil. Three million from whom all rights are robbed. Three millions, a population equal to that of all Scotland, who in this land of liberty and light, are denied the right to learn to read the name of God. -- They toil under a broiling sun and a driver's lash; they are sold like cattle in the market -- and are shut out from human regards -- thought of and spoken of as property -- sanctioned as property by cruel laws, and sanctified as such by the Church and Clergy of the country. -- While I am addressing you, four of my own dear sisters and one brother are enduring the frightful horrors of American slavery. In what part of the Union, they may be, I do not know; two of them, Sarah and Catharine, were sold from Maryland before I escaped from there. I am cut off from all communication with -- I cannot hear from them, nor can they hear from me -- we are sundered forever.

My case, is the case of thousands; and the case of my sisters, is the case of Millions. I have no doubt, that there are hundreds here to-day, that have parents, children, sisters and brothers, who are now in slavery. Oh! how deep is the damnation of America -- under what a load of crime does she stagger from day to day! What a hell of wickedness is there coiled up in her bosom, and what awful judgment awaits her impenitence! My friends, words cannot express my feelings. My soul is sick of this picture of an awful reality. -- The wails of bondmen are on my ear, and their heavy sorrows weigh down my heart.

I turn from these horrors -- from these God-defying, man imbruting crimes, to those who in my judgment are responsible for them. And I trace them to the door of every American citizen. Slavery exists in this land because of the moral, constitutional, political and religious support which it receives from the people of this country, especially the people of the North. As I stand before many to whom this subject may be new, I may be allowed here to explain. The people of this country are held together by a Constitution. That Constitution contains certain compromises in favor of slavery, and which bind the citizens to uphold slavery. The language of every American citizen to the slave, so far as he can comprehend that language is, "You shall be a slave or die." The history and character of the American people confirms the slave in this belief. To march to the attainment of his liberty, is to march directly upon the bristling bayonets of the whole military power of the nation. About eighteen years ago, a man of noble courage, rose among his brethren in Virginia. "We have long been subjected


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to slavery. The hour for our deliverance has come. Let us rise and strike for liberty. In the name of a God of justice let us stay our oppressors." 37 What was the result? He fell amid showers of American bullets, fired by United States troops. The fact that the Constitution guarantees to the slaveholder the naval and military support of the nation; the fact that he may under that Constitution, recapture his flying bondman in any State or territory within or belonging to this Union; and the fact that slavery alone enjoys a representation in Congress, makes every man who in good faith swears to support that Constitution and to execute its provisions, responsible for all the outrages committed on the millions of our brethren now in bonds. I therefore this day, before this large audience, charge home upon the voters of this city, county and state, the awful responsibility of enslaving and imbruting my brothers and sisters in the Southern States of this Union. Carry it home with you from this great gathering in Washington Square, that you, my white fellow-countrymen, are the enslavers of men, women, and children, in the Southern States; that what are called the compromises of your glorious Constitution, are but bloody links in the chain of slavery; and that they make you parties to that chain. But for these compromises -- but for your readiness to stand by them, "in the fullness of their letter and the completeness of their letter," the slave might instantly assert and maintain his rights. The contest now would be wonderfully unequal. Seventeen millions of armed, disciplined, and intelligent people, against three millions of unarmed and uninformed. Sir, we are often taunted with the inquiry from Northern white men -- "Why do your people submit to slavery? and does not that submission prove them an inferior race? Why have they not shown a desire for freedom?" Such language is as disgraceful to the insolent men who use it, as it is tantalising and insulting to us.

It is mean and cowardly for any white man to use such language toward us. My language to all such, is, Give us fair play and if we do not gain our freedom, it will be time to taunt us thus.

Before taking my seat, I will call your attention to some charges and misrepresentations of the American press, respecting the result of the great measure which we this day commemorate. We continually find statements and sentiments like this, in the whirlpool of American newspapers -- "The British Colonies are ruined," "The emancipated Negroes are lazy and won't work," "Emancipation has been a failure." Now, I wish to reply to these sentiments and statements -- and to say something about laziness in general, as applied to the race to which I belong. By the way, I think I may claim a superior industry for the colored man over the white man, on the showing of the white men themselves. We are just now appropriating to ourselves, vast regions of country in the Southwest. -- What is the language of white men, as to the best population to develop the great resources of those vast countries? Why, in good plain English this: that white industry is unequal to it, and that none but the sinewy arm of the sable race is capable of doing so. Now, for these lazy drones to be taunting us with laziness, is a little too bad. I will answer the statements respecting the ruined condition of the West India Islands, by a declaration recently made on this very subject by Lord John Russell, present Prime Minister of England, a man remarkable for


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coolness and accuracy of speech. In regard to the measure of emancipation, he says, and I read from the London Times of the 17th of June, 1848: --

"The main purpose of the act of 1834 was as I have stated, to give freedom to 800,000 persons, to place those then living in a condition of slavery in a state of independence, prosperity, and happiness. That object, I think, every one admits has been accomplished. [Cheers.] I believe a class of laborers more happy, more in possession of all the advantages and enjoyments of life than the Negro population of the West Indies, does not exist. [Cheers.] -- That great object has been accomplished by the act of 1834."

"It appears by evidence that the Negroes of the West India colonies since the abolition of slavery had been in the best condition. They had the best food, and were in all respects better clothed and provided for than any peasantry in the world. There was a resolution passed by a committee in 1842 declaring that the measure of emancipation had completely succeeded so far as the welfare of the Negroes was concerned. I believe the noble lord the member for Lynn, moved a similar resolution on a subsequent occasion. We have it in evidence that the Negroes were able to indulge in the luxury of dress, which they carried to an almost ridiculous excess. Some were known to have dress worth 50l."

Now, sir, I call upon the press of Rochester and of this country at large, to let these facts be known, that a long abused and injured race may at last have justice done them.

I must thank you now my friends, for your kind and patient attention: asking your pardon for having trespassed so long upon your hearing, I will take my seat.

The North Star, August 4, 1848

Letter to Thomas Auld
TO THOMAS AULD

September 3d, 1848

Sir:

The long and intimate, though by no means friendly relation which unhappily subsisted between you and myself, leads me to hope that you will easily account for the great liberty which I now take in addressing you in this open and public manner. The same fact may possibly remove any disagreeable surprise which you may experience on again finding your name coupled with mine, in any other way than in an advertisement, accurately describing my person, and


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offering a large sum for my arrest. In thus dragging you again before the public, I am aware that I shall subject myself to no inconsiderable amount of censure. I shall probably be charged with an unwarrantable, if not a wanton and reckless disregard of the rights and proprieties of private life. There are those North as well as South who entertain a much higher respect for rights which are merely conventional, than they do for rights which are personal and essential. Not a few there are in our country, who, while they have no scruples against robbing the laborer of the hard earned results of his patient industry, will be shocked by the extremely indelicate manner of bringing your name before the public. Believing this to be the case, and wishing to meet every reasonable or plausible objection to my conduct, I will frankly state the ground upon which I justify myself in this instance, as well as on former occasions when I have thought proper to mention your name in public. All will agree that a man guilty of theft, robbery, or murder, has forfeited the right to concealment and private life; that the community have a right to subject such persons to the most complete exposure. However much they may desire retirement, and aim to conceal themselves and their movements from the popular gaze, the public have a right to ferret them out, and bring their conduct before the proper tribunals of the country for investigation. Sir, you will undoubtedly make the proper application of these generally admitted principles, and will easily see the light in which you are regarded by me. I will not therefore manifest ill temper, by calling you hard names. I know you to be a man of some intelligence, and can readily determine the precise estimate which I entertain of your character. I may therefore indulge in language which may seem to others indirect and ambiguous, and yet be quite well understood by yourself.

I have selected this day on which to address you, because it is the anniversary of my emancipation; and knowing of no better way, I am led to this as the best mode of celebrating that truly important event. Just ten years ago this beautiful September morning, yon bright sun beheld me a slave -- a poor, degraded chattel -- trembling at the sound of your voice, lamenting that I was a man, and wishing myself a brute. The hopes which I had treasured up for weeks of a safe and successful escape from your grasp, were powerfully confronted at this last hour by dark clouds of doubt and fear, making my person shake and my bosom to heave with the heavy contest between hope and fear. I have no words to describe to you the deep agony of soul which I experienced on that never to be forgotten morning -- (for I left by daylight). I was making a leap in the dark. The probabilities, so far as I could by reason determine them, were stoutly against the undertaking. The preliminaries and precautions I had adopted previously, all worked badly. I was like one going to war without weapons -- ten chances of defeat to one of victory. One in whom I had confided, and one who had promised me assistance, appalled by fear at the trial hour, deserted me, thus leaving the responsibility of success or failure solely with myself. You, sir, can never know my feelings. As I look back to them, I can scarcely realize that I have passed through a scene so trying. Trying however as they were, and gloomy as was the prospect, thanks be to the Most High, who is ever the God of the oppressed, at the moment which was to determine my whole earthly career. His grace was sufficient,


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my mind was made up. I embraced the golden opportunity, took the morning tide at the flood, and a free man, young, active and strong, is the result.

I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you. I am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them. When yet but a child about six years old, I imbibed the determination to run away. The very first mental effort that I now remember on my part, was an attempt to solve the mystery, Why am I a slave? and with this question my youthful mind was troubled for many days, pressing upon me more heavily at times than others. When I saw the slave-driver whip a slave woman, cut the blood out of her neck, and heard her piteous cries, I went away into the corner of the fence, wept and pondered over the mystery. I had, through some medium, I know not what, got some idea of God, the Creator of all mankind, the black and the white, and that he had made the blacks to serve the whites as slaves. How he could do this and be good, I could not tell. I was not satisfied with this theory, which made God responsible for slavery, for it pained me greatly, and I have wept over it long and often. At one time, your first wife, Mrs. Lucretia, heard me singing and saw me shedding tears, and asked of me the matter, but I was afraid to tell her. I was puzzled with this question, till one night, while sitting in the kitchen, I heard some of the old slaves talking of their parents having been stolen from Africa by white men, and were sold here as slaves. The whole mystery was solved at once. Very soon after this my aunt Jinny and uncle Noah ran away, and the great noise made about it by your father-in-law, made me for the first time acquainted with the fact, that there were free States as well as slave States. From that time, I resolved that I would some day run away. The morality of the act, I dispose as follows: I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner. I therefore see no wrong in any part of the transaction. It is true, I went off secretly, but that was more your fault than mine. Had I let you into the secret, you would have defeated the enterprise entirely; but for this, I should have been really glad to have made you acquainted with my intentions to leave.

You may perhaps want to know how I like my present condition. I am free to say, I greatly prefer it to that which I occupied in Maryland. I am, however, by no means prejudiced against the State as such. Its geography, climate, fertility and products, are such as to make it a very desirable abode for any man; and but for the existence of slavery there, it is not impossible that I might again take up my abode in that State. It is not that I love Maryland less, but freedom more. You will be surprised to learn that people at the North labor under the strange


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delusion that if the slaves were emancipated at the South, they would flock to the North. So far from this being the case, in that event, you would see many old and familiar faces back again to the South. The fact is, there are few here who would not return to the South in the event of emancipation. We want to live in the land of our birth, and to lay our bones by the side of our fathers'; and nothing short of an intense love of personal freedom keeps us from the South. For the sake of this, most of us would live on a crust of bread and a cup of cold water.

Since I left you, I have had a rich experience. I have occupied stations which I never dreamed of when a slave. Three out of the ten years since I left you, I spent as a common laborer on the wharves of New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was there I earned my first free dollar. It was mine. I could spend it as I pleased. I could buy hams or herring with it, without asking any odds of any body. That was a precious dollar to me. You remember when I used to make seven or eight, or even nine dollars a week in Baltimore, you would take every cent of it from me every Saturday night, saying that I belonged to you, and my earnings also. I never liked this conduct on your part -- to say the best, I thought it a little mean. I would not have served you so. But let that pass. I was a little awkward about counting money in New England fashion when I first landed in New Bedford. I like to have betrayed myself several times. I caught myself saying phip, for fourpence; and at one time a man actually charged me with being a runaway, whereupon I was silly enough to become one by running away from him, for I was greatly afraid he might adopt measures to get me again into slavery, a condition I then dreaded more than death.

I soon, however, learned to count money, as well as to make it, and got on swimmingly. I married soon after leaving you: in fact, I was engaged to be married before I left you; and instead of finding my companion a burden, she was truly a helpmeet. She went to live at service, and I to work on the wharf, and though we toiled hard the first winter, we never lived more happily. After remaining in New Bedford for three years, I met with Wm. Lloyd Garrison, a person of whom you have possibly heard, as he is pretty generally known among slaveholders. He put it into my head that I might make myself serviceable to the cause of the slave by devoting a portion of my time to telling my own sorrows, and those of other slaves which had come under my observation. This was the commencement of a higher state of existence than any to which I had ever aspired. I was thrown into society the most pure, enlightened and benevolent that the country affords. Among these I have never forgotten you, but have invariably made you the topic of conversation -- thus giving you all the notoriety I could do. I need not tell you that the opinion formed of you in these circles, is far from being favorable. They have little respect for your honesty, and less for your religion.

But I was going on to relate to you something of my interesting experience. I had not long enjoyed the excellent society to which I have referred, before the light of its excellence exerted a beneficial influence on my mind and heart. Much of my early dislike of white persons was removed, and their manners, habits and customs, so entirely unlike what I had been used to in the kitchen-quarters on the plantations of the South, fairly charmed me, and gave me a strong disrelish


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for the coarse and degrading customs of my former condition. I therefore made an effort so to improve my mind and deportment, as to be somewhat fitted to the station to which I seemed almost providentially called. The transition from degradation to respectability was indeed great, and to get from one to the other without carrying some marks of one's former condition, is truly a difficult matter. I would not have you think that I am now entirely clear of all plantation peculiarities, but my friends here, while they entertain the strongest dislike to them, regard me with that charity to which my past life somewhat entitles me, so that my condition in this respect is exceedingly pleasant. So far as my domestic affairs are concerned, I can boast of as comfortable a dwelling as your own. I have an industrious and neat companion, and four dear children -- the oldest a girl of nine years, and three fine boys, the oldest eight, the next six, and the youngest four years old. The three oldest are now going regularly to school -- two can read and write, and the other can spell with tolerable correctness words of two syllables: Dear fellows! they are all in comfortable beds, and are sound asleep, perfectly secure under my own roof. There are no slaveholders here to rend my heart by snatching them from my arms, or blast a mother's dearest hopes by tearing them from her bosom. These dear children are ours -- not to work up into rice, sugar and tobacco, but to watch over, regard, and protect, and to rear them up in the nurture and admonition of the gospel -- to train them up in the paths of wisdom and virtue, and, as far as we can to make them useful to the world and to themselves. Oh! sir, a slaveholder never appears to me so completely an agent of hell, as when I think of and look upon my dear children. It is then that my feelings rise above my control. I meant to have said more with respect to my own prosperity and happiness, but thoughts and feelings which this recital has quickened unfits me to proceed further in that direction. The grim horrors of slavery rise in all their ghastly terror before me, the wails of millions pierce my heart, and chill my blood. I remember the chain, the gag, the bloody whip, the death-like gloom overshadowing the broken spirit of the fettered bondman, the appalling liability of his being torn away from wife and children, and sold like a beast in the market. Say not that this is a picture of fancy. You well know that I wear stripes on my back inflicted by your direction; and that you, while we were brothers in the same church, caused this right hand, with which I am now penning this letter, to be closely tied to my left, and my person dragged at the pistol's mouth, fifteen miles, from the Bay side to Easton to be sold like a beast in the market, for the alleged crime of intending to escape from your possession. All this and more you remember, and know to be perfectly true, not only of yourself, but of nearly all of the slaveholders around you.

At this moment, you are probably the guilty holder of at least three of my own dear sisters, and my only brother in bondage. These you regard as your property. They are recorded on your ledger, or perhaps have been sold to human flesh mongers, with a view to filling your own ever-hungry purse. Sir, I desire to know how and where these dear sisters are. Have you sold them? or are they still in your possession? What has become of them? are they living or dead? And my dear old grandmother, whom you turned out like an old horse, to die in the woods -- is she still alive? Write and let me know all about them. If my grandmother be still alive,


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she is of no service to you, for by this time she must be nearly eighty years old -- too old to be cared for by one to whom she has ceased to be of service, send her to me at Rochester, or bring her to Philadelphia, and it shall be the crowning happiness of my life to take care of her in her old age. Oh! she was to me a mother, and a father, so far as hard toil for my comfort could make her such. Send me my grandmother! that I may watch over and take care of her in her old age. And my sisters, let me know all about them. I would write to them, and learn all I want to know of them, without disturbing you in any way, but that, through your unrighteous conduct, they have been entirely deprived of the power to read and write. You have kept them in utter ignorance, and have therefore robbed them of the sweet enjoyments of writing or receiving letters from absent friends and relatives. Your wickedness and cruelty committed in this respect on your fellow-creatures, are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my back, or theirs. It is an outrage upon the soul -- a war upon the immortal spirit, and one for which you must give account at the bar of our common Father and Creator.

The responsibility which you have assumed in this regard is truly awful -- and how you could stagger under it these many years is marvellous. Your mind must have become darkened, your heart hardened, your conscience seared and petrified, or you would have long since thrown off the accursed load and sought relief at the hands of a sin-forgiving God. How, let me ask, would you look upon me, were I some dark night in company with a band of hardened villains, to enter the precincts of your elegant dwelling and seize the person of your own lovely daughter Amanda, and carry her off from your family, friends and all the loved ones of her youth -- make her my slave -- compel her to work, and I take her wages -- place her name on my ledger as property -- disregard her personal rights -- fetter the powers of her immortal soul by denying her the right and privilege of learning to read and write -- feed her coarsely -- clothe her scantily, and whip her on the naked back occasionally; more and still more horrible, leave her unprotected -- a degraded victim to the brutal lust of fiendish overseers, who would pollute, blight, and blast her fair soul -- rob her of all dignity -- destroy her virtue, and annihilate all in her person the graces that adorn the character of virtuous womanhood? I ask how would you regard me, if such were my conduct? Oh! the vocabulary of the damned would not afford a word sufficiently infernal, to express your idea of my God-provoking wickedness. Yet sir, your treatment of my beloved sisters is in all essential points, precisely like the case I have now supposed. Damning as would be such a deed on my part, it would be no more so than that which you have committed against me and my sisters.

I will now bring this letter to a close, you shall hear from me again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery -- as a means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deepening their horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the American church and clergy -- and as a means of bringing this guilty nation with yourself to repentance. In doing this I entertain no malice towards you personally. There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily


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grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege, to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other.

I am your fellow man, but not your slave,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, September 22, 1848

An Address to the Colored People of the United States
In September, 1848, between sixty and seventy delegates met in Cleveland and chose Douglass as president of the National Negro Convention. Douglass was delighted to discover in examining the delegates' credentials that they represented a cross-section of the free Negro people -- printers, carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, engineers, dentists, gunsmiths, editors, tailors, merchants, wheelwrights, painters, farmers, physicians, plasterers, masons, clergymen, barbers, hairdressers, coopers, livery stable keepers, bath-house keepers, and grocers.

Reversing the position adopted a year before on the national Negro press, the convention announced that The North Star answered the needs and purposes of such a press and urged its support by all Negro people. The delegates also endorsed the Free Soil Party, but declared that they were "determined to maintain the higher stand and more liberal views which heretofore characterized us as abolitionists." This meeting recommended "a change in the conduct of colored barbers who refused to treat colored men on a basis of equality with the whites." Committees were appointed in different states to organize vigilante groups, "so as to enable them to measure arms with assailants without and invaders within." 38

Douglass' voice was heard throughout the proceedings. He opposed the preamble to the seventeenth resolution "inasmuch as it intimated that slavery could not be abolished by moral means alone." He moved to amend the thirty-third resolution, declaring that the word "persons" used in the resolution designating delegates be understood "to include women." The motion was seconded, and carried "with three cheers for woman's rights." 39

Douglass' role at the Cleveland Convention won him nationwide attention. The proceedings were printed in the press, and special comments on the presiding officer appeared in the editorial columns. The pro-southern papers exhausted their vocabulary in slandering Douglass, but other journals were extravagant in their praise. Answering an attack by the Plain Dealer of its city, the Cleveland Daily True Democrat declared: "Frederick Douglass is a man, who if divided into fifty parts would make fifty better men than the editor of the Plain Dealer." Gerrit Smith was so delighted with Douglass' conduct at the convention that he ventured the opinion that "he has the talents and dignity that would adorn the Presidency of the nation." 40 [II:25 -- 26]

AN ADDRESS TO THE COLORED PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES

Fellow Countrymen:

Under a solemn sense of duty, inspired by our relation to you as fellow sufferers under the multiplied and grievous wrongs to which we as a people are universally subjected, -- we, a portion of your brethren, assembled in National Convention, at Cleveland, Ohio, take the liberty to address you on the subject of our mutual improvement and social elevation.

The condition of our variety of the human family, has long been cheerless, if not hopeless, in this country. The doctrine perseveringly proclaimed in high places


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in church and state, that it is impossible for colored men to rise from ignorance and debasement, to intelligence and respectability in this country, has made a deep impression upon the public mind generally, and is not without its effect upon us. Under this gloomy doctrine, many of us have sunk under the pall of despondency, and are making no effort to relieve ourselves, and have no heart to assist others. It is from this despond that we would deliver you. It is from this slumber we would rouse you. The present, is a period of activity and hope. The heavens above us are bright, and much of the darkness that overshadowed us has passed away. We can deal in the language of brilliant encouragement, and speak of success with certainty. That our condition has been gradually improving, is evident to all, and that we shall yet stand on a common platform with our fellow countrymen, in respect to political and social rights, is certain. The spirit of the age -- the voice of inspiration -- the deep longings of the human soul -- the conflict of right with wrong -- the upward tendency of the oppressed throughout the world, abound with evidence complete and ample, of the final triumph of right over wrong, of freedom over slavery, and equality over caste. To doubt this, is to forget the past, and blind our eyes to the present, as well as to deny and oppose the great law of progress, written out by the hand of God on the human soul.

Great changes for the better have taken place and are still taking place. The last ten years have witnessed a mighty change in the estimate in which we as a people are regarded, both in this and other lands. England has given liberty to nearly one million, and France has emancipated three hundred thousand of our brethren, and our own country shakes with the agitation of our rights. Ten or twelve years ago, an educated colored man was regarded as a curiosity, and the thought of a colored man as an author, editor, lawyer or doctor, had scarce been conceived. Such, thank Heaven, is no longer the case. There are now those among us, whom we are not ashamed to regard as gentlemen and scholars, and who are acknowledged to be such, by many of the most learned and respectable in our land. Mountains of prejudice have been removed, and truth and light are dispelling the error and darkness of ages. The time was, when we trembled in the presence of a white man, and dared not assert, or even ask for our rights, but would be guided, directed, and governed, in any way we were demanded, without ever stopping to enquire whether we were right or wrong. We were not only slaves, but our ignorance made us willing slaves. Many of us uttered complaints against the faithful abolitionists, for the broad assertion of our rights; thought they went too far, and were only making our condition worse. This sentiment has nearly ceased to reign in the dark abodes of our hearts; we begin to see our wrongs as clearly, and comprehend our rights as fully, and as well as our white countrymen. This is a sign of progress; and evidence which cannot be gainsayed. It would be easy to present in this connection, a glowing comparison of our past with our present condition, showing that while the former was dark and dreary, the present is full of light and hope. It would be easy to draw a picture of our present achievements, and erect upon it a glorious future.

But, fellow countrymen, it is not so much our purpose to cheer you by the progress we have already made, as it is to stimulate you to still higher attainments. We have done much, but there is much more to be done. -- While we have undoubtedly great cause to thank God, and take courage for the hopeful changes


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which have taken place in our condition, we are not without cause to mourn over the sad condition which we yet occupy. We are yet the most oppressed people in the world. In the Southern states of this Union, we are held as slaves. All over that wide region our paths are marked with blood. Our backs are yet scarred by the lash, and our souls are yet dark under the pall of slavery. -- Our sisters are sold for purposes of pollution, and our brethren are sold in the market, with beasts of burden. Shut up in the prison-house of bondage -- denied all rights, and deprived of all privileges, we are blotted from the page of human existence, and placed beyond the limits of human regard. Death, moral death, has palsied our souls in that quarter, and we are a murdered people.

In the Northern states, we are not slaves to individuals, not personal slaves, yet in many respects we are the slaves of the community. We are, however, far enough removed from the actual condition of the slave, to make us largely responsible for their continued enslavement, or their speedy deliverance from chains. For in the proportion which we shall rise in the scale of human improvement, in that proportion do we augment the probabilities of a speedy emancipation of our enslaved fellow-countrymen. It is more than a mere figure of speech to say, that we are as a people, chained together. We are one people -- one in general complexion, one in a common degradation, one in popular estimation. As one rises, all must rise, and as one falls all must fall. Having now, our feet on the rock of freedom, we must drag our brethren from the slimy depths of slavery, ignorance, and ruin. Every one of us should be ashamed to consider himself free, while his brother is a slave. -- The wrongs of our brethren, should be our constant theme. There should be no time too precious, no calling too holy, no place too sacred, to make room for this cause. We should not only feel it to be the cause of humanity, but the cause of christianity, and fit work for men and angels. We ask you to devote yourselves to this cause, as one of the first, and most successful means of self improvement. In the careful study of it, you will learn your own rights, and comprehend your own responsibilities, and, scan through the vista of coming time, your high, and God-appointed destiny. Many of the brightest and best of our number, have become such by their devotion to this cause, and the society of white abolitionists. The latter have been willing to make themselves of no reputation for our sake, and in return, let us show ourselves worthy of their zeal and devotion. Attend anti-slavery meetings, show that you are interested in the subject, that you hate slavery, and love those who are laboring for its overthrow. -- Act with white Abolition societies wherever you can, and where you cannot, get up societies among yourselves, but without exclusiveness. It will be a long time before we gain all our rights; and although it may seem to conflict with our views of human brotherhood, we shall undoubtedly for many years be compelled to have institutions of a complexional character, in order to attain this very idea of human brotherhood. We would, however, advise our brethren to occupy memberships and stations among white persons, and in white institutions, just so fast as our rights are secured to us.

Never refuse to act with a white society or institution because it is white, or a black one, because it is black. But act with all men without distinction of color. By so acting, we shall find many opportunities for removing prejudices and


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establishing the rights of all men. We say avail yourselves of white institutions, not because they are white, but because they afford a more convenient means of improvement. But we pass from these suggestions, to others which may be deemed more important. In the Convention that now addresses you, there has been much said on the subject of labor, and especially those departments of it, with which we as a class have been long identified. You will see by the resolutions there adopted on that subject, that the Convention regarded those employments though right in themselves, as being nevertheless, degrading to us as a class, and therefore, counsel you to abandon them as speedily as possible, and to seek what are called the more respectable employments. While the Convention do not inculcate the doctrine that any kind of needful toil is in itself dishonorable, or that colored persons are to be exempt from what are called menial employments, they do mean to say that such employments have been so long and universally filled by colored men, as to become a badge of degradation, in that it has established the conviction that colored men are only fit for such employments. We therefore, advise you by all means, to cease from such employments, as far as practicable, by pressing into others. Try to get your sons into mechanical trades; press them into the blacksmith's shop, the machine shop, the joiner's shop, the wheelwright's shop, the cooper's shop, and the tailor's shop.

Every blow of the sledge hammer, wielded by a sable arm, is a powerful blow in support of our cause. Every colored mechanic, is by virtue of circumstances, an elevator of his race. Every house built by black men, is a strong tower against the allied hosts of prejudice. It is impossible for us to attach too much importance to this aspect of the subject. Trades are important. Wherever a man may be thrown by misfortune, if he has in his hands a useful trade, he is useful to his fellow man, and will be esteemed accordingly; and of all men in the world who need trades we are the most needy.

Understand this, that independence is an essential condition of respectability. To be dependent, is to be degraded. Men may indeed pity us, but they cannot respect us. We do not mean that we can become entirely independent of all men; that would be absurd and impossible, in the social state. But we mean that we must become equally independent with other members of the community. That other members of the community shall be as dependent upon us, as we upon them. -- That such is not now the case, is too plain to need an argument. The houses we live in are built by white men -- the clothes we wear are made by white tailors -- the hats on our heads are made by white hatters, and the shoes on our feet are made by white shoe-makers, and the food that we eat, is raised and cultivated by white men. Now it is impossible that we should ever be respected as a people, while we are so universally and completely dependent upon white men for the necessaries of life. We must make white persons as dependent upon us, as we are upon them. This cannot be done while we are found only in two or three kinds of employments, and those employments have their foundation chiefly, if not entirely, in the pride and indolence of the white people. Sterner necessities, will bring higher respect.

The fact is, we must not merely make the white man dependent upon us to shave him but to feed him; not merely dependent upon us to black his boots, but to make them. A man is only in a small degree dependent on us when he only


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needs his boots blacked, or his carpet bag carried; as a little less pride, and a little more industry on his part, may enable him to dispense with our services entirely. As wise men it becomes us to look forward to a state of things, which appears inevitable. The time will come, when those menial employments will afford less means of living than they now do. What shall a large class of our fellow countrymen do, when white men find it economical to black their own boots, and shave themselves. What will they do when white men learn to wait on themselves? We warn you brethren, to seek other and more enduring vocations.

Let us entreat you to turn your attention to agriculture. Go to farming. Be tillers of the soil. On this point we could say much, but the time and space will not permit. Our cities are overrun with menial laborers, while the country is eloquently pleading for the hand of industry to till her soil, and reap the reward of honest labor. We beg and intreat you, to save your money -- live economically -- dispense with finery, and the gaities which have rendered us proverbial, and save your money. Not for the senseless purpose of being better off than your neighbor, but that you may be able to educate your children, and render your share to the common stock of prosperity and happiness around you. It is plain that the equality which we aim to accomplish, can only be achieved by us, when we can do for others, just what others can do for us. We should therefore, press into all the trades, professions and callings, into which honorable white men press.

We would in this connection, direct your attention to the means by which we have been oppressed and degraded. Chief among those means, we may mention the press. This engine has brought to the aid of prejudice, a thousand stings. Wit, ridicule, false philosophy, and an impure theology, with a flood of low black-guardism, come through this channel into the public mind; constantly feeding and keeping alive against us, the bitterest hate. The pulpit too, has been arrayed against us. Men with sanctimonious face, have talked of our being descendants of Ham -- that we are under a curse, and to try to improve our condition, is virtually to counteract the purposes of God!

It is easy to see that the means which have been used to destroy us, must be used to save us. The press must be used in our behalf: aye! we must use it ourselves; we must take and read newspapers; we must read books, improve our minds, and put to silence and to shame, our opposers.

Dear Brethren, we have extended these remarks beyond the length which we had allotted to ourselves, and must now close, though we have but hinted at the subject. Trusting that our words may fall like good seed upon good ground; and hoping that we may all be found in the path of improvement and progress,

We are your friends and servants,

(Signed by the Committee, in behalf of the Convention)

Frederick Douglass,

H. Bibb,

W. L. Day,

D. H. Jenkins,

A. H. Francis.

The North Star, September 29, 1848


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The Blood of the Slave on the Skirts of the Northern People
On September 10, 1848, The North Star editorially recommended the Free Soil candidates, Van Buren and Adams.... Douglass understood that this was the beginning of a great movement which would finally split the Democrats, destroy the Whig Party, and create a new political anti-slavery movement with a mass following. 41 [He] was excited by the colorful campaign....

Although Van Buren did not carry a single state, the Free Soil Party received 291,678 votes out of the 2,882,120 which were cast, and elected five men to Congress.... While Douglass was bitter over Taylor's election, he was encouraged by the vote cast for the Free Soil candidates. He was convinced that it was the duty of all anti-slavery men to promulgate their principles among the Free Soilers so that gradually "a true Free Soil Party" could be established. "We must go on and lead the Free Soilers," he told his audience at the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Society a month after the election. 42 [II:72 -- 73]

THE BLOOD OF THE SLAVE ON THE SKIRTS OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLE

A victim of your power and oppression, humbly craves your attention to a few words, (in behalf of himself and three millions of his brethren, whom you hold in chains and slavery,) with respect to the election just completed. In doing so, I desire to be regarded as addressing you, individually and collectively. If I should seem severe, remember that the iron of slavery has pierced and rankled in my heart, and that I not only smart under the recollection of a long and cruel enslavement, but am even now passing my life in a country, and among a people, whose prejudices against myself and people subjects me to a thousand poisonous stings. If I speak harshly, my excuse is, that I speak in fetters of your own forging. Remember that oppression hath the power to make even a wise man mad.

In the selection of your national rulers just completed, you have made another broad mark on the page of your nation's history, and have given to the world and the coming generation a certain test by which to determine your present integrity as a people. That actions speak louder than words -- that within the character of the representative may be seen that of the constituency -- that no people are better than their laws or lawmakers -- that a stream cannot rise higher than its source -- that a sweet fountain cannot send forth bitter water, and that a tree is to be known by its fruits, are truisms; and in their light let us examine the character and pretensions of your boasted Republic.

As a people, you claim for yourselves a higher civilization -- a purer morality


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-- a deeper religious faith -- a larger love of liberty, and a broader philanthropy, than any other nation on the globe. In a word, you claim yours to be a model Republic, and promise, by the force and excellence of your institutions, and the purity and brightness of your example, to overthrow the thrones and despotisms of the old world, and substitute your own in their stead. Your missionaries are found in the remotest parts of the globe, while our land swarms with churches and religious institutions. In words of Religion and Liberty, you are abundant and preeminent. You have long desired to get rid of the odium of being regarded as pro-slavery, and have even insisted that the charge of pro-slavery made against you was a slander and that those who made it were animated by wild and fanatical spirit. To make your innocence apparent, you have now had a fair opportunity. The issue for freedom or slavery has been clearly submitted to you, and you have deliberately chosen slavery.

General Taylor and General Cass were the chosen and admitted Southern and slavery candidates for the Presidency. Martin Van Buren, though far from being an abolitionist, yet in some sort represented the Anti-Slavery idea of the North, in a political form -- him you have rejected, and elected a slaveholder to rule over you in his stead. When the question was whether New Mexico and California shall be Free or Slave States, you have rejected him who was solemnly pledged to maintain their freedom, and have chosen a man whom you knew to be pledged, by his position, to the maintenance of slavery. By your votes, you have said that slavery is better than freedom -- that war is better than peace, and that cruelty is better than humanity. You have given your sanction to slave rule and slavery propagandism, and interposed whatever of moral character and standing you possess, to shield the reputation of slaveholders generally. You have said, that to be a man-stealer is no crime -- to traffic in human flesh shall be a passport, rather than a barrier to your suffrages. To slaveholders you have said, Chain up your men and women, and before the bloody lash drive them to new fields of toil in California and New Mexico. To the slave in his chains you have said, Be content in your chains, and if you dare to gain your freedom by force, whether in New Mexico or California, in numbers indicated by our votes, our muskets shall find you out. In a word, you have again renewed your determination to support the Constitution of the United States, in its parts of freedom to the whites, and slavery to the blacks. If General Taylor's slaves run away, you have promised again to return them to bondage. While General Taylor is the well-known robber of three hundred human beings of all their hard earnings, and is coining their hard earnings into gold, you have conferred upon him an office worth twenty-five thousand dollars a year, and the highest honor within your power. By this act, you have endorsed his character and history. His murders in Mexico -- his "bloodhound" cruelty in the Florida war -- his awful profanity, together with the crimes attendant upon a slave plantation, such as theft, robbery, murder, and adultery, you have sanctioned as perfectly consistent with your morality, humanity, liberty, religion and civilization. You have said that the most available and suitable person in all this great nation, to preside over this model Republic, is a warrior, slave-holder, swearer, and bloodhound importer. -- During the campaign just ended,


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your leaders have dubbed this man-stealer as an honest man, and many of you have shouted over the lie, as being a truth, thus destroying all moral distinctions. To talk of a veracious liar, a pious blasphemer, a righteous robber, a candid hypocrite, a sober drunkard, or a humane cannibal, would be quite as just and rational as to call an admitted man-stealer an honest man. Yet in the wildness of a wicked enthusiasm, you have given your countenance and support to this.

Now is it too much to say that you have made his crimes your own, and that the blood of the slave is on your garments? You have covered his theft with honesty, his blasphemy with piety, and, as far as in your power, you have rendered the blows intended to destroy slavery nugatory and innoxious. Before high heaven and the world, you are responsible for the blood of the slave. You may shut your eyes to the fact, sport over it, sleep over it, dance over it, and sing psalms over it, but so sure as there is a God of Justice and an unerring Providence, just so sure will the blood of the bondman be required at your hands. -- An opportunity was presented to you by which you could have fixed an indelible mark of your utter detestation of slavery, and given a powerful blow to that bitter curse. This you have failed to do. When Christ and Barabbas were presented, you have cried out in your madness, Give us Barabbas the robber, in preference to Christ, the innocent. The perishing slave, with uplifted hands and bleeding hearts, implored you, in the name of the God you profess to serve, and the humanity you profess to cherish, not to add this mill-stone to the weight already crushing his heart and hopes. But he has appealed in vain. You have turned a deaf ear to his cries, hardened your hearts to his appeal, turned your back upon his sorrows, and united with the tyrant to perpetuate his enslavement. The efforts made in your presence to impress you with the awful sin of slavery, and to awaken you to a sense of your duty to the oppressed, have thus far been unavailing. You continue to fight against God, and declare that injustice exalteth a nation, and that sin is an honor to any people.

Do you really think to circumvent God? -- Do you suppose that you can go on in your present career of injustice and political profligacy undisturbed? Has the law of righteous retribution been repealed from the statutes of the Almighty? Or what mean ye that ye bruise and bind my people? Will justice sleep forever? Oh, that you would lay these things to heart! Oh, that you would consider the enormity of your conduct, and seek forgiveness at the hands of a merciful Creator. Repent of this wickedess, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, by delivering the despoiled out of the hands of the despoiler.

You may imagine that you have now silenced the annoying cry of abolition -- that you have sealed the doom of the slave -- that abolition is stabbed and dead; but you will find your mistake. You have stabbed, but the cause is not dead. Though down and bleeding at your feet, she shall rise again, and going before you, shall give you no rest till you break every yoke and let the oppressed go free. The Anti-Slavery Societies of the land will rise up and spring to action again, sending forth from the press and on the voice of the living speaker, words of burning truth, to alarm the guilty, to unmask the hypocrite, to expose the frauds of political parties, and rebuke the spirit of a corrupt and sin-sustaining church and clergy. Slavery will be attacked in its stronghold -- the compromises of the


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Constitution, and the cry of disunion shall be more fearlessly proclaimed, till slavery be abolished, the Union dissolved, or the sun of this guilty nation must go down in blood. -- F. D.

The North Star, November 17, 1848

Colonization
Douglass' vigorous denunciation of colonization is an outstanding example of the contribution he made as an editor to clarifying problems confronting the Negro people. For some time after 1835, colonization agitation was unable to get much of a hearing in the North, as it came to be considered, to paraphrase Cornish and Garrison, merely an effort to strengthen the props of slave institutions. In the late 1840s, however, Henry Clay and the various compromise groups around him renewed the colonization program in the hope that it might lessen the tensions growing in the country over the slavery question. When Douglass founded The North Star, colonization agitation was again in full swing. Immediately he dedicated the journal to the battle against the colonizationists....

In editorial after editorial Douglass hammered away at the theme that colonization was the "twin sister of slavery"; that the United States was the native land of the Negro; that "he, of any one has a right to the soil of this continent" having for more than two hundred years "toiled over the soil of America, under a burning sun and a driver's lash -- ploughing, planting, reaping, that white men might loll in ease," and having "fought and bled for this country"; that "his attachment to the place of his birth is stronger than iron," and that those who advised the Negro to emigrate were "his worst and most deadly enemies." 43 ...

The capstone of Douglass' argument and his most useful contribution to the discussion of colonization was his claim that Negroes and whites could live and work together as equals; that prejudice against color was not invincible; that it was already giving way "and must give way"; that it was an inevitable by-product of slavery and would be overcome as soon as the Negro people were given the same opportunities as their white brothers. The free Negroes, he declared, were making rapid advances in this direction, and were being retarded by the colonizationists who strengthened prejudice against the Negro people by declaring that it was inevitable and God-ordained because of "the natural inferiority of the colored race." It was the duty of the Negro people to defeat the vicious campaign which sought to prove that they were a blight upon American civilization, to "help free their brethren, rather than leave them in chains, to go and civilize Africa." We are Americans, cried Douglass, and we want to live in America on equal terms with all other Americans. "Brethren" he appealed, "stay where you are, so long as you can stay. Stay here and worthily discharge the duties of honest men, and of good citizens." 44 [I:97 -- 99]

COLONIZATION

In order to divert the hounds from the pursuit of the fox, a "red herring" is sometimes drawn across the trail, and the hounds mistaking it for the real scent, the game is often lost. We look upon the recent debate in the Senate of the United States, over this wrinkled old "red herring" of colonization as a ruse to divert the attention of


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the people from that foul abomination which is sought to be forced upon the free soil of California and New Mexico, and which is now struggling for existence in Kentucky, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The slaveholders are evidently at a stand to know what trick they shall try next to turn the scorching rays of anti-slavery light and truth from the bloodshot eyes of the monster slavery. The discussion of it is most painful and agonizing; and if it continues, the very life of this foul, unnatural and adulterous beast will be put in imminent peril; so the slaveholding charmers have conjured up their old familiar spirits of colonization, making the old essence of abomination to flounder about in its grave clothes before the eyes of Northern men, to their utter confusion and bewilderment. A drowning man will catch at a straw. Slavery is sinking in public estimation. It is going down. It wants help, and asks through Mr. Underwood, of Kentucky, how much of the public money (made by the honest toil of Northern men) will be at its service in the event of emancipation, "as some are in favor of emancipation, provided that the Negroes can be sent to Liberia, or beyond the limits of the United States."

Here we have the old colonization spirit revived, and the impudent proposition entertained by the Senate of the United States of expelling the free colored people from the United States, their native land, to Liberia.

In view of this proposition, we would respectfully suggest to the assembled wisdom of the nation, that it might be well to ascertain the number of free colored people who will be likely to need the assistance of government to help them out of this country to Liberia, or elsewhere, beyond the limits of these United States -- since this course might save any embarrassment which would result from an appropriation more than commensurate to the numbers who might be disposed to leave this, our own country, for one we know not of. We are of opinion that the free colored people generally mean to live in America, and not in Africa; and to appropriate a large sum for our removal, would merely be a waste of the public money. We do not mean to go to Liberia. Our minds are made up to live here if we can, or die here if we must; so every attempt to remove us, will be, as it ought to be, labor lost. Here we are, and here we shall remain. While our brethren are in bondage on these shores; it is idle to think of inducing any considerable number of the free colored people to quit this for a foreign land.

For two hundred and twenty-eight years has the colored man toiled over the soil of America, under a burning sun and a driver's lash -- plowing, planting, reaping, that white men might roll in ease, their hands unhardened by labor, and their brows unmoistened by the waters of genial toil; and now that the moral sense of mankind is beginning to revolt at this system of foul treachery and cruel wrong, and is demanding its overthrow, the mean and cowardly oppressor is meditating plans to expel the colored man entirely from the country. Shame upon the guilty wretches that dare propose, and all that countenance such a proposition. We live here -- have lived here -- have a right to live here, and mean to live here. -- F. D.

The North Star, January 26, 1849


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The Constitution and Slavery
During the first ten years of his work as an Abolitionist, Douglass had accepted all of the doctrines of the Garrisonian school. In his speeches, letters, and early editorials in The North Star, he reiterated his belief that the Constitution was wholly a pro-slavery document, called for the destruction of the American Union, reaffirmed his opposition to the use of the ballot against slavery and again asserted his conviction that moral suasion was the major instrumentality for ending slavery. "I am willing at all times to be known as a Garrisonian Abolitionist," he wrote on September 4, 1849. 45

But as he moved outside the orbit of the Massachusetts Abolitionists and came into contact with anti-slavery men who differed with the Garrisonian school, Douglass began for the first time to examine his beliefs critically. After considerable study and extensive reading in law, political philosophy, and American government, he concluded that there were serious flaws in the Garrisonian doctrines. Gradually he formulated a new anti-slavery creed....

As Douglass abandoned sole reliance on moral power for the overthrow of slavery, he was forced to re-examine his attitude toward political action. During 1841 -- 1848 he had placed his hopes in the non-political activities of the anti-slavery societies. In a speech at the Higham Anti-Slavery Convention in November, 1841, he ridiculed political action, exclaiming that the slaveholders "care nothing about your political action, they don't dread the political movement; it is the moral movement, the appeal to men's sense of right, which makes them and all our opponents tremble." 46

The belief in non-political action Douglass maintained consistently during the next few years. Like all Abolitionists under the influence of the Garrisonian wing of anti-slavery thought, he would have nothing to do with a government and a constitution framed and administered by men who "were and have been until now, little better than a band of pirates." Until the government and the Constitution were replaced by institutions which would "better answer the ends of justice," no true friend of liberty in the United States could vote or hold office. 47

The key to Douglass' anti-political views was his interpretation of the Constitution "as a most foul and bloody conspiracy against the rights of three millions of enslaved and imbruted men." As a Negro, he knew at first hand the farce that history had made of the Declaration of Independence; his personal suffering made him only too ready to accept the Garrisonian doctrine that the Constitution was "a Covenant with death and an agreement with hell." If slaveholders appealed to the Constitution, he would appeal to a higher law, to divine morality. The founders of the American Union, he told an audience in England, while proclaiming liberty throughout the land, were themselves trafficking in their fellow men, and since then American government and society had been dedicated to defending the great lie of slavery. Slavery, he claimed, was not a southern but an American institution, a system that derived its support as much from the non-slaveholding states as from those where slavery was accepted. By swearing to uphold the American Constitution and the American Union, the people of the North had sworn before high heaven that


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the slave would be kept a slave. As long as they accepted the Constitution and its compromises in favor of the slaveholders, they were responsible for the existence of slavery in the United States and must share the guilt for that great crime. 48

It required two years of study and discussion for Douglass to change his attitude toward the Constitution. The first indication he gives that he was beginning to re-examine his thinking is the [following] brief comment.... Six weeks later he wrote that if he could be convinced that the Constitution was essentially anti-slavery in its origins and purposes, he would be quick to use the ballot box against slavery, and to urge others to do likewise. He doubted, however, that he could be easily persuaded that such were the origins and purposes of the document. [II:49 -- 52]

THE CONSTITUTION AND SLAVERY

Rochester, January 23, 1849

Frederick Douglass -- Dear Sir:

I have called twice at the Star office, for the purpose of conferring with you about our discussion on American slavery, but did not find you. I am very anxious, in view of the good which I think may be done, to have the discussion immediately, and will cheerfully meet you at any time and place in this city, which you may propose, provided it shall be soon, as business will call me from the city in a few days. The resolution to be discussed, as you doubtless recollect, is the one which I presented at the Anti-Slavery Convention recently held in this city, at which time you challenged me to debate it, and I accepted the challenge.

"Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, if strictly construed according to its reading, is anti-slavery in all of its provisions."

The word ALL was accepted from your suggestion. An immediate answer is especially requested.

Respectfully and truly yours,

C. H. Chase

My dear Sir:

I owe you an apology for not sooner publishing and replying to the above letter. On a close examination of the Constitution, I am satisfied that if strictly "construed according to its reading," it is not a pro-slavery instrument; and while I disagree with you as to the inference to be drawn from this admission, you will see that in the resolution, between us there is no question for debate.

I now hold, as I have ever done, that the original intent and meaning of the Constitution (the one given to it by the men who framed it, those who adopted, and the one given to it by the Supreme Court of the United States) makes it a pro-slavery instrument -- such an one as I cannot bring myself to vote under, or swear to support.

Very respectfully,

Frederick Douglass

The North Star, February 9, 1849


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The Constitution and Slavery
The assertion which we made five weeks ago, that "the Constitution, if strictly construed according to its reading," is not a pro-slavery instrument, has excited some interest amongst our Anti-Slavery brethren. Letters have reached us from different quarters on the subject. Some of these express agreement and pleasure with our views, and others, surprise and dissatisfaction. Each class of opinion and feeling is represented in the letters which we have placed in another part of this week's paper. The one from our friend Gerrit Smith, represents the view which the Liberty party take of this subject, and that of Mr. Robert Forten is consistent with the ground occupied by a majority of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Whether we shall be able to set ourselves right in the minds of those on the one side of this question or the other, and at the same time vindicate the correctness of our former assertion, remains to be seen. Of one thing, however, we can assure our readers, and that is, that we bring to the consideration of this subject no partisan feelings, nor the slightest wish to make ourselves consistent with the creed of either Anti-Slavery party, and that our only aim is to know what is truth and what is duty in respect to the matter in dispute, holding ourselves perfectly free to change our opinion in any direction, and at any time which may be indicated by our immediate apprehension of truth, unbiased by the smiles or frowns of any class or party of abolitionists. The only truly consistent man is he who will, for the sake of being right today, contradict what he said wrong yesterday. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." True stability consists not in being of the same opinion now as formerly, but in a fixed principle of honesty, even urging us to the adoption or rejection of that which may seem to us true or false at the ever-present now.

Before entering upon a discussion of the main question, it may be proper to remove a misapprehension into which Gerrit Smith and Robert Forten seem to have fallen, in respect to what we mean by the term, "strictly construed according to its reading," as used by us in regard to the Constitution. Upon a second reading of these words, we can readily see how easily they can be made to mean more than we intended. What we meant then, and what we would be understood to mean now, is simply this -- that the Constitution of the United States, standing alone, and construed only in the light of its letter, without reference to the opinions of the men who framed and adopted it, or to the uniform, universal and undeviating practice of the nation under it, from the time of its adoption until now, is not a pro-slavery instrument. Of this admission we are perfectly willing to give our esteemed friend Gerrit Smith, and all who think with him on this subject, the fullest benefit; accompanied, however, with this explanation, that it was made with no view to give the public to understand that we held this construction to be the proper one of that instrument, and that it was drawn out merely because we were unwilling to go before the public on so narrow an issue, and one about which there could be so little said on either side. How a document would appear under one construction, is one thing; but whether the construction


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be the right one, is quite another and a very different thing. Confounding these two things, has led Gerrit Smith to think too favorably of us, and Robert Forten too unfavorably. We may agree with the Roman Catholic, that the language of Christ, with respect to the sacrament, if construed according to reading, teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation. But the admission is not final, neither are we understood by so doing, to sanction that irrational though literal doctrine. Neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant could attach any importance to such an admission. It would neither afford pleasure to the Catholic, nor pain to the Protestant. Hoping that we have now made ourselves understood on this point, we proceed to the general question.

THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF SLAVERY

The Constitution of the United States. -- What is it? Who made it? For whom and for what was it made? Is it from heaven or from men? How, and in what light are we to understand it? If it be divine, divine light must be our means of understanding it; if human, humanity, with all its vices and crimes, as well as its virtues, must help us to a proper understanding of it. All attempts to explain it in the light of heaven must fail. It is human, and must be explained in the light of those maxims and principles which human beings have laid down as guides to the understanding of all written instruments, covenants, contracts and agreements, emanating from human beings, and to which human beings are parties, both on the first and the second part. It is in such a light that we propose to examine the Constitution; and in this light we hold it to be a most cunningly-devised and wicked compact, demanding the most constant and earnest efforts of the friends of righteous freedom for its complete overthrow. It was "conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity." But this will be called mere declamation, and assertion -- mere "heat without light" -- sound and fury signify nothing. -- Have it so. Let us then argue the question with all the coolness and clearness of which an unlearned fugitive slave, smarting under the wrongs inflicted by this unholy Union, is capable. We cannot talk "lawyer like" about law -- about its emanating from the bosom of God! -- about government, and of its seat in the great heart of the Almighty! -- nor can we, in connection with such an ugly matter-of-fact looking thing as the United States Constitution, bring ourselves to split hairs about the alleged legal rule of interpretation, which declares that an "act of the Legislature may be set aside when it contravenes natural justice." We have to do with facts, rather than theory. The Constitution is not an abstraction. It is a living, breathing fact, exerting a mighty power over the nation of which it is the bond of Union.

Had the Constitution dropped down from the blue overhanging sky, upon a land uncursed by slavery, and without an interpreter, although some difficulty might have occurred in applying its manifold provisions, yet so cunningly is it framed, that no one would have imagined that it recognized or sanctioned slavery. But having a terrestrial, and not a celestial origin, we find no difficulty in ascertaining its meaning in all the parts which we allege to relate to slavery. Slavery existed before the Constitution, in the very States by whom it was made and adopted. -- Slaveholders took a large share in making it. It was made in view of


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the existence of slavery, and in a manner well calculated to aid and strengthen that heaven-daring crime.

Take, for instance, article 1st, section 2d, to wit: "Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and including Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons."

A diversity of persons are here described -- persons bound to service for a term of years, Indians not taxed, and three-fifths of all other persons. Now, we ask, in the name of common sense, can there be an honest doubt that, in States where there are slaves, that they are included in this basis of representation? To us, it is as plain as the sun in the heavens that this clause does, and was intended to mean, that the slave States should enjoy a representation of their human chattels under this Constitution. Beside, the term free, which is generally, though not always, used as the correlative of slave, "all other persons," settles the question forever that slaves are here included.

It is contended on this point by Lysander Spooner and others, that the words, "all other persons," used in this article of the Constitution, relates only to aliens. We deny that the words will bear any such construction. Are we to presume that the Constitution, which so carefully points out a class of persons for exclusion, such as "Indians not taxed," would be silent with respect to another class which it was meant equally to exclude? We have never studied logic, but it does seem to us that such a presumption would be very much like an absurdity. And the absurdity is all the more glaring, when it is remembered that the language used immediately after the words "excluding Indians not taxed," (having done with exclusions) it includes "all other persons." It is as easy to suppose that the Constitution contemplates including Indians, (against its express declaration to the contrary), as it is to suppose that it should be construed to mean the exclusion of slaves from the basis of representation, against the express language, "including all other persons." Where all are included, none remain to be excluded. The reasonings of those who take the opposite view of this clause, appears very much like quibbling, to use no harsher word. One thing is certain about this clause of the Constitution. It is this -- that under it, the slave system has enjoyed a large and domineering representation in Congress, which has given laws to the whole Union in regard to slavery, ever since the formation of the government.

Satisfied that the view we have given of this clause of the Constitution is the only sound interpretation of it, we throw at once all those parts and particulars of the instrument which refer to slavery, and constitute what we conceive to be the slaveholding compromises of the Constitution, before the reader, and beg that he will look with candor upon the comments which we propose to make upon them.

"Art. 5th, Sec. 8th. -- Congress shall have power to suppress insurrections."

"Art. 1st, Sec. 9th. -- The migration or importation of any such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by


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Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or a duty may be imposed, not exceeding ten dollars for each person."

"Art. 4th, Sec. 2d. -- No person held to service or labor in one State, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

"Art. 4th, Sec. 4th. -- The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government; and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, (when the Legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence." 49

The first article and ninth section is a full, complete and broad sanction of the slavetrade for twenty years. In this compromise of the Constitution, the parties to it pledged the national arm to protect that infernal trade for twenty years. While all other subjects of commerce were left under the control of Congress, this species of commerce alone was Constitutionally exempted. And why was this the case? Simply because South Carolina and Georgia declared, through their delegates that framed the Constitution, that they would not come into the Union if this traffic in human flesh should be prohibited. Mr. Rutledge, of South Carolina, (a distinguished member of the Convention that framed the Constitution,) said, "if the Convention thinks that North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, will ever agree to the plan, unless their right to import slaves be untouched, the expectation is vain." Mr. Pinckney said, South Carolina could never receive the plan, "if it prohibits the slavetrade." In consequence of the determination of these States to stand out of the Union in case the traffic in human flesh should be prohibited, and from one general desire to establish a Union, this ninth section of the first article was adopted, as a compromise; and shameful as it is, it is by no means more shameful than others which preceded and succeeded it. The slaveholding South, by that unyielding tenacity and consistency with which they usually contend for their measures, triumphed, and the doughface North was brought to the disgraceful terms in question, just as they have been ever since on all questions touching the subject of slavery.

As a compensation for their base treachery to human freedom and justice, the North were permitted to impose a tax of ten dollars for each person imported, with which to swell the coffers of the national treasury, thus baptising the infant Republic with blood-stained gold.

Art. 4, Sec. 2. -- This article was adopted with a view to restoring fugitive slaves to their masters -- ambiguous, to be sure, but sufficiently explicit to answer the end sought to be attained. Under it, and in accordance with it, the Congress enacted the atrocious "law of '93," making it penal in a high degree to harbor or shelter the flying fugitive. The whole nation that adopted it, consented to become kidnappers, and the whole land converted into slave-hunting ground.

Art. 4, Sec. 4 -- Pledges the national arm to protect the slaveholder from domestic violence, and is the safeguard of the Southern tyrant against the vengeance of the outraged and plundered slave. Under it, the nation is bound to do the bidding of the slaveholder, to bring out the whole naval and military power of the country, to crush the refractory slaves into obedience to their cruel masters. Thus


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has the North, under the Constitution, not only consented to form bulwarks around the system of slavery, with all its bloody enormities, to prevent the slave from escape, but has planted its uncounted feet and tremendous weight on the heaving hearts of American bondmen, to prevent them from rising to gain their freedom. Could Pandemonium devise a Union more inhuman, unjust, and affronting to God and man, than this? Yet such is the Union consummated under the Constitution of the United States. It is truly a compact demanding immediate disannulment, and one which, with our view of its wicked requirements, we can never enter.

We might just here drop the pen and the subject, and assume the Constitution to be what we have briefly attempted to prove it to be, radically and essentially pro-slavery, in fact as well as in its tendency; and regard our position to be correct beyond the possibility of an honest doubt, and treat those who differ from us as mere cavillers, bent upon making the worse appear the better reason; or we might anticipate the objections which are supposed to be valid against that position. We are, however, disposed to do neither. -- We have too much respect for the men opposed to us to do the former, and have too strong a desire to have those objections put in their most favorable light, to do the latter. -- We are prepared to hear all sides, and to give the arguments of our opponents a candid consideration. Where an honest expression of views is allowed, Truth has nothing to fear.

And now if our friend Gerrit Smith desires to be heard on the other side, the columns of the North Star are at his service. We can assure him that he cannot have a stronger wish to turn every rightful instrumentality against slavery, than we have; and if the Constitution can be so turned, and he can satisfy us of the fact, we shall readily, gladly and zealously turn our feeble energies in that direction. The case which our friend Gerrit Smith put to us in his letter is a good one, but fails in a most important particular, and that is, analogy. The only likeness which we can see in the supposed case of a bargain with Brown, to that of the bargain entered into by the North and the South, is that there is gross dishonesty in both. So far, there is a striking similarity, but no further. The parties that made the Constitution, aimed to cheat and defraud the slave, who was not himself a party to the compact or agreement. It was entered into understandingly on both sides. They both designed to purchase their freedom and safety at the expense of the imbruted slave. The North were willing to become the body guards of slavery -- suppressing insurrection -- returning fugitive slaves to bondage -- importing slaves for twenty years, and as much longer as the Congress should see fit to leave it unprohibited, and virtually to give slaveholders three votes for every five slaves they could plunder from Africa, and all this to form a Union by which to repel invasion, and otherwise promote their interest. No, friend Smith, we are not asked to act the honorable part of "Judge Douglass" with respect to this "contract," but to become a guilty party to it, and in reply we say -- No! -- F. D.

The North Star, March 16, 1849


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Letter to M. G. Warner, Esq.
An important phase of the anti-slavery activity in Rochester was the struggle for the abolition of segregated schools for Negro children. Douglass, the leader of the movement, felt a personal interest in the outcome. The Rochester Board of Education refused to allow his children to enter Public School 15 near his home, and insisted that they travel to the other side of the city to attend the school for Negro children.

Refusing to accept the system of segregated schools, Douglass, in August, 1848, arranged for his daughter, Rosetta, to attend Seward Seminary, a fashionable school for girls in Rochester.... [When] Rosetta was asked to leave the school, Douglass... did not permit the incident to pass over quietly. In [this] scathing letter... he promised that he would use all his powers to proclaim this "infamy" to the nation. Scores of papers reprinted the letter with its blistering conclusion.... 50

Publicly announcing that "in no emergency" would he send any child of his to a segregated school, Douglass dispatched Rosetta to a private institution in Albany for two or three years; in 1851, he secured the services of a governess for her and the other children. Meanwhile, he worked unceasingly with Samuel D. Porter and other citizens of Rochester to abolish the separate school system which he called "the question of questions for the colored people of this place." 51

For eight years Douglass pressed the issue of separate schools in Rochester. In 1857 the campaign bore fruit; the separate schools were abolished and Negro children were permitted to attend the public schools. [II:39 -- 41]

TO H. G. WARNER, ESQ., (Editor of the Rochester Courier)

Sir:

My reasons -- I will not say my apology, for addressing to you this letter, will become evident, by perusing the following brief statement of facts.

About the middle of August of the present year -- deeply desiring to give my daughter, a child between nine and ten years old, the advantages of a good school -- and learning that "Seward Seminary" of this city was an institution of that character -- I applied to its principal, Miss Tracy, for the admission of my daughter into that Seminary. The principal -- after making suitable enquiries into the child's mental qualifications, and informing me of the price of tuition per term, agreed to receive the child into the school at the commencement of the September term. Here we parted. I went home, rejoicing that my child was about to enjoy advantages for improving her mind, and fitting her for a useful and honorable life. I supposed that the principal would be as good as her word -- and was more disposed to his belief, when I learned that she was an abolitionist -- a woman of religious principles and integrity -- and would be faithful in the performance of her promises, as she had been prompt in making them. In all this I have been grievously -- if not shamefully disappointed.

While absent from home, on a visit to Cleveland, with a view to advance the cause of education and freedom among my despised fellow countrymen -- with whom I am in all respects identified, the September term of the "Seward Seminary" commenced, and my daughter was promptly sent to that school. -- But instead of receiving her into the school according to agreement -- and as in honor the principal was bound to do, she was merely thrust into a room separate from all other scholars, and in this prison-like solitary confinement received the occasional


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visits of a teacher appointed to instruct her. On my return home, I found her still going to school, and not knowing the character of the treatment extended to her, I asked with a light heart, as I took her to my side, well, my daughter, how do you get on at the Seminary? She answered with tears in her eyes, "I get along pretty well, but father, Miss Tracy does not allow me to go into the room with the other scholars because I am colored." Stung to the heart's core by this grievous statement, and suppressing my feelings as well as I could, I went immediately to the Seminary to remonstrate with the principal against the cruelty and injustice of treating my child as a criminal on account of her color -- subjecting her to solitary confinement because guilty of a skin not colored like her own. In answer to all that I could say against such treatment, I was answered by the principal, that since she promised to receive the child into school, she had consulted with the trustees, (a body of persons I believe unknown to the public,) and that they were opposed to the child's admission to the school -- that she thought at first of disregarding their opposition, but when she remembered how much they had done for her in sustaining the institution, she did not feel at liberty to do so; but she thought if I allowed her to remain and be taught separately for a term or more, that the prejudice might be overcome, and the child admitted into the school with the other young ladies and misses. At a loss to know what to do for the best interest of the child, I consulted with Mrs. Douglass and others, and the result of the consultation was, to take my child from the Seminary, as allowing her to remain there in such circumstances, could only serve to degrade her in her own eyes, and those of the other scholars attending the school. Before, however, carrying out my determination to withdraw the child from the Seminary, Miss Tracy, the principal, submitted the question of the child's reception to each scholar individually, and I am sorry to say, in a manner well calculated to rouse their prejudices against her. She told them if there was one objection to receiving her, she should be excluded; and said if any of them felt that she had a prejudice, and that that prejudice needed to be strengthened, that they might have time to whisper among themselves, in order to increase and strengthen that prejudice. To one young lady who voted to receive the child, she said, as if in astonishment; "did you mean to vote so? Are you accustomed to black persons?" The young lady stood silent; the question was so extraordinary, and withal so ambiguous, that she knew not what answer to make to it. Despite however, of the unwomanly conduct of the principal, (who, whatever may be her religious faith, has not yet learned the simplest principle of Christianity -- do to others as ye would that others should do unto you) -- thanks to the uncorruptible virtue of childhood and youth, in the fulness of their affectionate hearts, they welcomed my child among them, to share with them the blessings and privileges of the school; and when asked where she should sit if admitted, several young ladies shouted "By me, by me, by me." After this manifestation of sentiment on the part of the scholars, one would have supposed that all opposition on the part of the principal would have ceased; but this was not the case. The child's admission was subjected to a severer test. Each scholar was then told by the principal, that the question must be submitted to their parents, and that if one parent objected, the child would not be received into the school. The next morning my child went to school as usual, but returned with her


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books and other materials, saying that one person objected, and that she was therefore excluded from the Seminary.

Now, sir, these are the whole facts, with one important exception, and that fact is, that you are the person, the only person of all the parents sending young ladies and misses to that Seminary, who was hardened and mean enough to take the responsibility of excluding that child from school. I say, to you exclusively belongs the honor or infamy, of attempting to degrade an innocent child by excluding her from the benefit of attending a respectable school.

If this were a private affair, only affecting myself and family, I should possibly allow it to pass without attracting public attention to it; but such is not the case. It is a deliberate attempt to degrade and injure a large class of persons, whose rights and feelings have been the common sport of yourself, and such persons as yourself, for ages, and I think it unwise to allow you to do so with impunity. -- Thank God, oppressed and plundered as we are, and have been, we are not without help. We have a press, open and free, and have ample means by which we are able to proclaim our wrongs as a people, and your own infamy, and that proclamation shall be as complete as the means in my power can make it. There is a sufficient amount of liberality in the public mind of Rochester to see that justice is done to all parties, and upon that liberality I rely. The young ladies of the school who saw the child, and had the best means of determining whether her presence in the schoolroom would be offensive or degrading to them, have decided in favor of admitting her, without a dissenting vote. Out of all the parents to whom the question of her admission was submitted, not one, except yourself, objected. You are in a minority of one. You may not remain so; there are perhaps others, whom you may corrupt, and make as much like yourself in the blindness of prejudice, as any ordinarily wicked person can be.

But you are still in a minority, and if I mistake not, you will be in a despised minority. -- You have already done serious injury to Seward Seminary. Three young ladies left the school immediately after the exclusion of my daughter, and I have heard of three more, who had intended to go, but who have now declined going to that institution, because it has given its sanction to that anti-democratic, and ungodly caste. I am also glad to inform you that you have not succeeded as you hoped to do, in depriving my child of the means of a decent education, or the privilege of going to an excellent school. She had not been excluded from Seward Seminary five hours, before she was gladly welcomed into another quite as respectable, and equally christian to the one from which she was excluded. She now sits in a school among children as pure, and as white as you or yours, and no one is offended. Now I should like to know how much better are you than me, and how much better your children than mine? We are both worms of the dust, and our children are like us. We differ in color, it is true, (and not much in that respect,) but who is to decide which color is most pleasing to God, or most honorable among men? But I do not wish to waste words or argument on one whom I take to be as destitute of honorable feeling, as he has shown himself full of pride and prejudice.

Frederick Douglass

The North Star, March 30, 1849


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Comments on Gerrit Smith's Address
It will be remembered that Mr. Smith referred us in last week's paper to this address, for his views respecting the Constitutionality of slavery; and virtually said to us, Dispose of these, and if it shall then be necessary, you shall have more. To us, the address is quite unsatisfactory and unsound. About what a government ought to be so far as relates to a crime like slavery, there is no difference of opinion between us. That it is the duty of a government to protect the rights and liberties of its subjects, there is no question; and that that government which fails to do this is extremely guilty, there is equal agreement. What a government ought to do, is one thing; but not the thing germane to the question at issue between Mr. Smith and ourselves. That government ought to be just, merciful, holy, is granted. The question is not, however, what a government ought to be, or to do, but what the government of the United States is authorized to be, and to do, by the Constitution of the United States. The two questions should be kept separate, that the simplest may understand, as blending them only leads to confusion.

It is because we hold civil government to be solemnly bound to protect the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the oppressor, the few against the many, and to secure the humblest subject in the full possession of his rights of person and of property, that we utterly abhor and repudiate this government and the Constitution as a dark and damning conspiracy against all the purposes of government. Both its framers and administrators were, and have been until now, little better than a band of pirates. -- We would make clean work of both the government and the Constitution, and not amend or force a new construction upon either, contradicted by the whole history of the nation; but would abolish both, and reconstruct a Constitution and a government which shall better answer the ends of justice. To think of good government in a Union with slaveholders, and under a Constitution framed by slaveholders, the practical operation of which for sixty years has been to strengthen, sustain and spread slavery, does seem to us delusive. We are not for mending old clothes with new cloth, or putting new wine into old bottles, but for starting afresh under a new and higher light than our piratical fathers saw, and form a Constitution and government which shall be so clear and explicit that no doubt can be entertained as to its minutest purposes.

That this cannot be truthfully affirmed of our present Constitution, we need not insist upon at this time. Even our friend Smith virtually admits that it would be dangerous to leave the question of the slave's redemption to be decided in the light of the Constitution. The "old tattered parchment" receives no great deference from him after all. Disdaining it altogether, he says, "Whatever may be said of the lawfulness of slavery, government must abolish it. If it have a Constitution


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under which it cannot abolish slavery, then it must override the Constitution, and abolish slavery. But whether under or over the Constitution, it must abolish slavery." We like this for its whole-souled devotion to a glorious object. It is revolutionary, and looks as much like the fanaticism of Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison, as if it had been cast in their mould. In plain terms, Mr. Smith is for the abolition of slavery, whether in accordance with, or in violation of, the Constitution; and while the declaration is worthy of his noble heart, we cannot think such of his head. The doctrine laid down in this declaration, runs through the whole address, and gives it a vigor and warmth from beginning to end. We shall therefore express a few thoughts upon it.

It will be seen that the doctrine in question makes the government superior to, and independent of, the Constitution, which is the very charter of the government, and without which the government is nothing better than a lawless mob, acting without any other or higher authority than its own convictions or impulses as to what is right or wrong. If this doctrine be sound, it is a mere farce to have a written Constitution at all; for if the government can override and violate its Constitution in one point, it may do so in all. -- There is no limit, or safety, or certainty. If it can abolish slavery in violation of the Constitution, because it conflicts with the moral sentiments of the majority, the same may be done in other cases for the same reason. All the safe-guards of that instrument, providing for its own interpretation and its own amendment, are worthless and needless, if this doctrine be true, and government will merely be the voice of an ever-shifting majority, be that good or evil.

Among the causes which have convulsed and revolutionized Europe during the past year, none has been more prominent or effective than the want and rational desire of the people for Constitutional government -- not an unwritten, but a written Constitution, accurately defining the powers of government. But these revolutions and Constitutions would be a mere mockery, if government has a character independent of, and powers superior to the Constitution creating it. In the light of such doctrine, Constitutions are impotent and useless, and not worth the trouble of making them, to say nothing of the blood and treasure expended in their support. We hold this doctrine to be radically unsound, (and although brought forward to promote a noble object,) its tendency immoral. We say to our friend Smith, and to all others who sympathize with his views on this subject, if you profess to hold to the Constitution, maintain its provisions. If you cannot, in accordance with your conscience, perform its requirements, or submit to its limitations, then we say, it is your plain duty to come out from it, forsake it, repudiate it, abandon it, do anything rather than seem to be in harmony with an instrument which you would set aside and destroy. Do not, for the sake of honesty and truth, solemnly swear to protect and defend an instrument which it is your firm and settled purpose to disregard and violate in any one particular. Such a course would unsettle all confidence, invert all the principles of trust and reliance which bind society together, and leave mankind to all the horrors of anarchy, and all the confusion of Babel. We hold in respect to this, as the apostle held of old in respect to another Constitution -- "They that be under the law, are bound to do the things contained in the law." We repudiate the law, and the


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things contained in it, while friend Smith holds to the law, but makes it subject to the understanding of right. But, says Mr. Smith --

"Civil Government is to protect rights; and that it might as well, be openly repudiating its functions, and destroying its very existence, as to be giving countenance to searches after authorities for destroying rights. Laws, which interpret, define, secure rights, Government is to respect: and laws, which mistakingly, yet honestly, aim at this end, it is not to despise. But laws, which are enacted to destroy rights, it should trample under foot, -- for, to say nothing worse of them, they are a gross insult upon it, inasmuch as they are a shameless attempt to turn it from good to evil, and from its just and Heaven-intended uses, to uses of a diametrically opposite character."

Here again, the argument goes to the extent of assuming, that civil government in this country has a separate existence from the Constitution, and, as if the Constitution were not the supreme law of the land, and that the government can consistently overthrow the Constitution whenever it shall think proper to do so. In answer to this statement, it is enough to say that the government of the United States is limited in its powers and action by the Constitution, and that beyond those limits it cannot go, by any pretext whatever; and that the Supreme Court, the appointed agent to decide the meaning of that instrument, has only to decide a law to be unconstitutional, and it is null and void. -- It may indeed be said, that the Supreme Court of the United States has no right to legalize what is unjust and in derogation or against human freedom; but the answer is, that that is legal in this country which is Constitutional, and that the Supreme Court has no conscience above the Constitution of the United States, and certainly no power to set that instrument aside, either by declaring it to be null and void, or wrest it from its true intent and meaning, by a class of rules unknown and unsustained by a single precedent in this country.

As to what Mr. Smith says of determining the meaning of the Constitution by its letter alone, and disregarding as utterly worthless the intentions of the framers of that instrument, it may require consideration when he gives us some fixed and settled legal rules sustaining his views on this point. Such rules may exist, but we have not yet seen them; and until we do, we shall continue to understand the Constitution not only in the light of its letter, but in view of its history, the meaning attached to it by its framers, the men who adopted it, and the circumstances in which it was adopted. We have not read law very extensively, but so far as we have read, we have found many rules of interpretation favoring this mode of understanding the Constitution of the United States, and none against it, though there may be such.

It can scarcely be necessary, after what we have already said, to spend much time upon the following extraordinary declaration of Mr. Smith, respecting the Constitution, in which he declares that it "is drawn up with the intelligent and steadfast purpose of having it serve and be forever fully and gloriously identified with the cause of liberty, republicanism and equal rights, must of necessity be shut against the claims and pretensions of slavery." That it was drawn up with the purpose of serving the cause of the white man's liberty, is true; but that it was meant to serve the cause of the black man's liberty, is false. That a Constitution so drawn, must necessarily be shut against the claims of slavery, is an error. We are not deeply


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skilled in the science of human language, and use language in the sense in which it is generally used, rather than scientifically, and we do know that "Liberty, Republicanism, and Equal Rights," words constantly on the lips of this nation, are deemed to be no more hostile to Negro slavery, than the same words, when used by the Greeks, were supposed to be against the enslavement of the Helots. Ours is not the business of a lexicographer, but to receive the idea meant to be conveyed by the language of those who use it, and condemn or approve accordingly.

In the letter of Mr. Smith which we published last week, he assumes that the material thing for us to prove, in order to establish the wrongfulness of voting and acting under the United States Constitution, is, that the Federal Government has no right to abolish slavery under that instrument. With all deference, we must say, we see no such necessity laid upon us. We might, for argument's sake, grant all that Mr. Smith claims as to the power of the Federal Government to abolish slavery under the Constitution, and yet hold, as we certainly do hold, that it is wrong to vote and take office under the Constitution. It is not enough that a man can demonstrate that his plan will abolish slavery, to satisfy us that his plan is the right and best one to be adopted. Slavery might be abolished by the aid of a foreign arm; but shall we therefore invoke that aid? We might, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, break into the house of Mr. Smith and steal the where-withal to do these things, but the question of the rightfulness of such conduct would be still open. If there is one Christian principle more firmly fixed in our heart than another, it is this, that it is wrong to do evil that good may come; and if there is one heresy more to be guarded against than another, it is the doctrine that the end justifies the means. We say, therefore, that it is not incumbent upon us to show that, by a forced and latitudinarian construction of the Constitution, Congress may not abolish slavery in all the slaveholding States, in order to establish the doctrine which we lay down and justify the course which we feel bound to pursue in regard to voting under the Constitution of the United States. It is enough for us to know that the Constitution requires of those who are parties to it to return the fugitive slave to the house of bondage, and to shoot down the slave if he rises to gain his freedom, to justify us in repudiating and forever casting from us, as a covenant with death, the American Constitution.

Of course those who regard the Constitution in the light that Mr. Smith does, are bound by their convictions of duty to pursue an opposite course; and we candidly confess that, could we see the Constitution as they do, we should not be slow in using the ballot-box against the system of slavery, or urging others to do so. But we have learned enough of the elements of moral power, to know that a man is lame, impotent, and worse than weak, when he ceases to regard the clear convictions of his understanding, to accomplish anything, no matter how desirable that thing may be. We shall therefore continue to denounce the Constitution and government of the United States as a most foul and bloody conspiracy against the rights of three millions of enslaved and imbruted men; for such is the conviction of our conscience in respect to both the Constitution and the government. Down with both, for it is not fit that either should exist! -- F. D.

The North Star, March 30, 1849


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Colorphobia in New York!
It was Douglass' firm conviction that a Negro leader should take issue with every case encountered of prejudice against color. The readers of his paper knew that the editor applied this principle, for they regularly came upon lengthy accounts describing Douglass' battles against segregation.... The frequent appearance of such reports... gave courage to large sections of the Negro population in the North and made them more determined to combat segregation wherever they met it. [I:96 -- 97]

COLORPHOBIA IN NEW YORK!

The fifth of May will long be remembered as the most trying day ever experienced by the unfortunate victims of colorphobia in the city of New York. The disease was never more malignant or general than on that day. The streets were literally crowded with persons of all classes afflicted with this terrible malady. Whole omnibus loads were attacked at the same moment, and their hideous and unearthly howls were truly distressing, excruciating. It will be impossible to describe, or give the reader any correct idea either of the extent of the disease or the agony it seemed to occasion. Like most epidemics, its chief havoc was among the baser sort. The suffering here was fearful and intense. If the genteel suffered from the plague, they managed to suppress and control their feelings better than what are called the "lower orders." But, even here, there could be no successful concealment. The strange plague defied all concealment, and would show itself in spite of veils, white pocket handkerchiefs, parasols, hats, bonnets and umbrellas. In the refined the presence of the plague might be seen by a distortion of the countenance, a red and furious look about the cheek, a singular turn up of the nose, and a "lower me!" expression of the eyes.

Among the low and vulgar the symptoms were different; -- the hand clinched, head shaking, teeth grating, hysteric yells and horrid imprecation, marked the presence of the disease and the agony of the miserable creatures who were its unfortunate victims. Persons who, at a distance of thirty or forty yards, appeared the very pictures of health, were found, on a nearer approach, most horribly cut and marred.

But the effect upon the outward man was not half so strange and dreadful as that upon the mind. Here all was utter ruin. Gough's description of "delirium tremens" would not be much out of place in describing one haunted and afflicted with colorphobia. Monsters, goblins, demons, snakes, lizards and scorpions -- all that was foul, strange and loathsome -- seized upon their bewildered imaginations. Pointing with outstretched arm towards us, its victims would exclaim, as if startled by some terrible sight -- "Look! look!" "Where?" "Ah, what?" "Why?" "Why, don't you see?" "See what?" "Why, that BLACK! black! black!" Then, with eyes turned up in horror, they would exclaim in the most unearthly manner, and start off in a furious gallop -- running all around us, and gazing at us, as if they would read our very hearts. The whole scene was deeply afflicting and terrible.

But to the cause of this wide-spread plague, or rather the manifestation of it. We think it can all be made plain to the dullest comprehension. There had


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arrived in New York, a few days previous, two English Ladies, from London -- friends of Frederick Douglass -- and had taken apartments at the Franklin House, Broadway; and were not only called upon at that Hotel by Mr. Douglass, but really allowed themselves to take his arm, and to walk many times up and down Broadway, in broad-day light, when that great thoroughfare was crowded with pure American ladies and gentlemen. Such an open, glaring outrage upon pure American tastes had never before been perpetrated. Two ladies, elegantly attired, educated, and of the most approved manners, faultless in appearance and position, actually walking, and learning upon the arm of a person, with a skin not colored like their own! Oh! monstrous! Was it not enough to cause the very stones to leap up with indignation from the pavement! and to "stir them up to mutiny and rage"? More and worse still, these ladies appeared wholly indifferent to, and oblivious of, all the indignation and fury going on about them; but walked, talked and acted as though nothing unusual was passing. In a word, they seemed to forget that they were in the greatest Commercial Emporium of this, the mightiest Nation in the world, and to act as though they had been in the paltry city of London!! instead of New York. What could they have been thinking about? How strange that they had not made themselves acquainted with the institutions and customs of the great Nation, upon whose sacred soil they were allowed to land? How singular that their friends had not warned them against such a monstrous outrage upon the established customs of this, the "freest" country in the world? They certainly must have been deceived. It is impossible "that nature so could err." "Charms, conjuration -- mighty magic," must have bewildered and misled them. They would have been kindly received and hospitably entertained by some of the most respectable and refined families in the city of New York; but, with a strange hallucination, they preferred to identify themselves with the most despised and injured portion of all the people of America -- and thus to make themselves of no reputation, and cut themselves off from all sympathy and attention of the highly favored and accomplished sons and daughters of America. Before quitting this subject, we wish to call attention to certain singular inconsistencies connected with the development of the feeling, called (erroneously) prejudice against color. The first is this. The poor creatures who seemed most disturbed by the fact that these ladies walked through the streets of New York in company with a colored man, felt in no wise shocked at seeing ladies seated in their gilded carriages, with colored persons seated near them, driving their horses and otherwise assisting such ladies. All this was perfectly right. They were in the capacity of servants. Hence New York toadyism is rather pleased than disgusted. It is not with colored servants that New York loafers are displeased; but with colored gentlemen. It is with the colored man as a gentleman that they feel the most intense displeasure. They cannot bear it, and they must pour out their pent-up wrath, whenever an opportunity is afforded for doing so.

In this same Franklin Hotel, in which we could not be allowed to dine on account of our color, we saw a large number of colored waiters in the nearest proximity to white gentlemen and ladies, without offence.

We, however, tire of this subject. This prejudice is so unjust, unnatural and


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irrational, that ridicule and indignation seem to be the only weapons with which to assail it.

Our friends informed us that when they landed, they were assured that they had reached the shores of a free country, and were congratulated upon that fact. But they had scarcely reached the hotel, when they were informed that a friend of theirs, who was not deemed unfit to be associated with in London, and who would have been kindly received at the best hotels in that city, and in Paris, would not be allowed to take dinner with them at the Franklin Hotel, in the city of New York. In this free country one is not permitted to choose and enjoy the society of his friends, without being subjected to innumerable insults and annoyances.

We shall not, however, despair on this point. A marked improvement has already taken place in the manner of treating colored travelers, and the change is going on still. Nothing, however, facilitates this more than such examples of fidelity to principle, and indifference to a corrupt and brutal public opinion, as is presented in the conduct of these two English ladies, and others. This prejudice must be removed; and the way for abolitionists and colored persons to remove it, is to act as though it did not exist, and to associate with their fellow creatures irrespective of all complexional differences. We have marked out this path for ourselves, and we mean to pursue it at all hazards. -- F. D.

The North Star, May 25, 1849

Letter to Capt. Thomas Auld
TO CAPT. THOMAS AULD, FORMERLY MY MASTER

No. 4 Alexander St., Rochester, September 3d, 1849

Dear Sir:

I propose to celebrate this, the 11th anniversary of my escape from your dominion, by addressing to you a friendly epistle on the subject of slavery.

I do this partly with a view to the fulfilment of a promise I made you on this day one year ago, and partly to neutralize certain charges which I then brought against you.

Ungrateful and unjust as you, perhaps, deem me, I should despise myself if I could wilfully malign the character even of a slaveholder; and if, at any time, I have appeared to you guilty of such conduct, you have greatly misapprehended me. I can say, with a clear conscience, in all that I have ever written or spoken respecting yourself, I have tried to remember that, though I am beyond your power and control, I am still accountable to our common Father and Judge, in the sight of whom I believe that I stand acquitted of all intentional misrepresentation against you. Of course, I said many hard things respecting yourself; but all has been based upon what I knew of you at the time I was a slave in your family. Of the past, therefore, I have nothing to take back; but information concerning you and your household, lately received, makes it unjust and unkind for me to continue the style of remark, in regard to your character, which I primarily adopted.


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I have been told by a person intimately acquainted with your affairs, and upon whose word I can rely, that you have ceased to be a slaveholder, and have emancipated all your slaves, except my poor old grandmother, who is now too old to sustain herself in freedom; and that you have taken her from the desolate hut in which she formerly lived, into your own kitchen, and are providing for her in a manner becoming a man and a Christian.

This, sir, is good news; it is all the more gratifying to me, since it deprives the pro-slavery public of the North of what they deem a powerful argument against me, and the abolitionists generally. It proves that the agitation of the subject of slavery does not hinder, if it does not help, the emancipation of slaves at the South. I have been frequently told that my course would have an unfavorable influence upon the condition of my friends and relatives in your possession; and the common argument against abolitionists may be stated as follows: Let slaveholders alone, and they will emancipate their slaves; and that agitation only retards the progress of the slave's liberation. It is alleged that the slaveholder is induced to clutch more firmly what is attempted to be wrested from him. To this argument, your case is a plain contradiction. If the effect of anti-slavery were such as is thus alleged, you would have been among the first to have experienced it; for few slaveholders in this land have had a larger share of public exposure and denunciation than yourself; and this, too, from a quarter most calculated to annoy, and to provoke resentment. All this, however, has not prevented you from nobly discharging the high duty you owed alike to God and to the slaves in your possession. I congratulate you warmly, and I rejoice most sincerely, that you have been able, against all the suggestions of self-interest, of pride, and of love of power, to perform this act of pure justice and humanity. It has greatly increased my faith in man, and in the latent virtue even of slaveholders. I say latent virtue, not because I think slaveholders are worse than all other men, but because, such are the power and influence of education and habit upon even the best constituted minds, that they paralyze and disorder, if not destroy their moral energy; and of all persons in the world, slaveholders are in the most unfavorable position for retaining their power. It would be easy for me to give you the reason of this, but you may be presumed to know it already.

Born and brought up in the presence and under the influence of a system which at once strikes at the very foundation of morals, by denying -- if not the existence of God -- the equal brotherhood of mankind, by degrading one part of the human family to the condition of brutes, and by reversing all right ideas of justice and of brotherly kindness, it is almost impossible that one so environed can greatly grow in virtuous rectitude.

You, however, sir, have risen superior to these unhallowed influences, and have added another striking proof to those already existing, that the heart of the slaveholder is still within the reach of the truth, and that to him the duty of letting "the oppressed go free," is not in vain.

I shall no longer regard you as an enemy to freedom, nor to myself -- but shall hail you as a friend to both. -- Before doing so, however, I have one reasonable request to make of you, with which you will, I hope, comply. It is thus: That you make your conversion to anti-slavery known to the world, by precept as well as example. A publication of the facts relating to the emancipation of the slaves, with


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the reasons that have led you to this humane act, would doubtless prove highly beneficial to the cause of freedom generally -- at the same time that it would place yourself in that high estimation of the public mind to which your generous conduct justly entitles you. I think you have no right to put your candle under a bushel. Your case is different in many respects from that of most repentant slaveholders. You have been publicly and peculiarly exposed before the world for being a slaveholder; and, since you have ceased to be such, a just regard for your own standing among men, as well as a desire to promote the happiness of a deeply injured people, requires you to make known your sentiments on this important subject. It would be truly an interesting and a glorious spectacle to see master and slave, hand in hand, laboring together for the overthrow of American slavery. I am sure that such an example would tell with thrilling effect upon the public mind of this section. We have already had the example of slaves and slaveholders side by side battling for freedom; but we yet lack a master working by the side of his former slave on the anti-slavery platform. You have it in your power to supply this deficiency; and if you can bring yourself to do so, you will attain a larger degree of happiness for yourself, and will confer a greater blessing on the cause of freedom, than you have already done by the generous act of emancipating your own slaves. With the example before me, I shall not despair of yet having the pleasure of giving you the right hand of fellowship on the anti-slavery platform.

Before closing the present letter, I wish to set you right about a matter which is, perhaps, of small importance to yourself, but is of considerable consequence to me.

In your letter, written three years ago, to Mr. A. C. C. Thompson, of Wilmington, respecting the validity of my narrative, you complained that I failed to mention your intention to emancipate me at the age of 25. The reason of this failure is as follows: You will remember that your promise to emancipate me preceded my first attempt to escape; and that you then told me that you would have emancipated me, had I not made the attempt in question. If you ask me why I distrusted your promise in the first instance, I could give you many reasons; but the one that weighed most with me was the passage of a law in Maryland, throwing obstructions in the way of emancipation; and I had heard you refer to that law as an excuse for continuing your slaves in bondage; and, supposing the obstructions alluded to might prove insuperable barriers to my freedom, I resolved upon flight as the only alternative left me short of a life of slavery. I hope this explanation will be satisfactory. I do not regret what I have done, but rather rejoice in it, as well for your sake as mine. Nevertheless, I wish to be fairly understood, and have, therefore, made the explanation.

I shall here conclude this letter, by again expressing my sincere gratitude at the magnanimous deed with which your name is now associated -- and by repeating the ardent hope that you will publicly identify yourself with the holy cause of freedom, to which, since I left your service, I have been most unremittingly devoting myself.

I am, Dear Sir, very respectfully yours,

Frederick Douglass

The Liberator, September 14, 1849


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Government and Its Subjects
It has long been regarded as the dictate of wisdom, by sagacious legislators, that a government should conciliate, as far as possible, every class of its subjects. It is always deemed unpardonable folly, and flagrant wickedness, for any government needlessly to afflict and insult a portion of its people. Governments are, either exceedingly strong, or exceedingly weak; and that government is strongest which has the fewest foes. This is peculiarly true of our own; it, of all others, should make friends with its subjects, and with every class of its subjects, for the day may come when it will need them all. It is not to be disguised that, in the matter of slave-holding, our nation stands before the world, preeminent in infamy; that the existence of slavery, in this country, is looked upon by other nations, as the peculiar weakness, as well as the crime, of the American people; and it is quite easy to perceive that, in the event of a conflict between this and any European power, this vulnerable point would be the first to be attacked. The colored people of this country would be counted as the natural allies of any power which should inscribe on its banners, Liberty for the black, as well as for the white man.

But with these truths so obvious to common sense before them, our legislators appear to take the utmost pleasure in wantonly displaying their contempt for the rights and feelings of the growing colored population of the United States. It would be impossible for a government to devise a policy better calculated to make itself the object of hatred than that adopted by our government toward its free colored people; to make us detest the land of our birth -- to abhor the government under which we live -- and to welcome the approach of an invading enemy as our only salvation, would seem to be the animating spirit and purpose of all the legislative enactments of the country with respect to us. With all its boasted wisdom and dignity, it does not hesitate to use every opportunity of persecuting, insulting and assailing the weakest, and most defenceless part of its subjects or citizens. It acts towards us as though the highest crime we could commit is that of patriotism; and all manner of insult, neglect and contempt, are necessary to prevent the commission of this crime on our part. Our thoughts have been turned in this direction by the contemptible meanness of our present Secretary of State, in refusing to grant to William W. Brown the usual passport granted to citizens about to travel in foreign countries. Mr. Brown remarks (in a recent letter to Mr. Garrison,) that one of his fellow passengers to Europe, was accompanied by a colored servant, and that this servant had with him a regular passport, signed by the Secretary of State, Mr. Buchanan.

This fact presents the American government in its true light. It has no objection whatever to extend its protection to colored servants, but it is resolved, on no occasion, to grant protection to colored gentlemen. A colored man who travels for the benefit of a white man, will have thrown over him the shield and


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panoply of the United States; but, if he travels for his own profit or pleasure, he forfeits all the immunities of an American citizen. The government in this particular, fairly reflects the lights and shades of the whole American mind; as appendages to white men we are universally esteemed; as independent and responsible men we are universally despised.

In keeping with this spirit, and in pursuance of this policy, the colored man is not permitted to carry a United States' mail bag across the street, nor hand it from a stage driver to a post-master. In the navy, no matter how great may be his talents, skill and acquirements -- no matter how daring, heroic, and patriotic he may be, he is forbidden, by the government, to rise above the office of a cook, or a steward, under the flag of the United States.

The colored man, if a slave, may travel in company with his master, into any state or territory in the Union; but if he be a free man, he may not even visit the capitol of the nation (which he helps to support by his taxes), without the liability of being cast into prison, kept there for months together, and then taken out, and sold like a beast of burden, under the auctioneer's hammer, for his jail fees. Besides the gross frauds and ruinous wrongs, heaped, with scandalous profusion, on the heads of the colored people, by the government, the white population at large, (saints and sinners,) are constantly exerting their skill and ingenuity in devising schemes which serve to embitter our lot, and to destroy our happiness.

From places of instruction and amusement, open to all other nations under the sun, we are excluded; from the cabins of steamboats, and the tables of Hotels (which are free to English, Irish, Dutch, Scotch and also to the most rude Hoosier of the West) we are excluded; from the ecclesiastical convention, and the political caucus, we are generally excluded; from the bar and the jury-box of our country we are excluded; from respectable trades and employments, and from nearly all the avenues to wealth and power, we are excluded; from the Lyceum Hall and the common school, the sources of light and education, we are as a people excluded. Meanwhile societies are organized under the guise of philanthropy and religion, whose chief business it is to propagate the most malignant slanders against us, and to keep up in the public mind a violent animosity between us and our white fellow-citizens. Upon this the government smiles with approbation, and exerts its utmost powers to execute the behests of this unnatural and cruel prejudice. What is this but the most discreditable disregard of sound political wisdom, to say nothing of the dictates of justice and magnanimity? Can the colored man be expected to entertain for such a government any feelings but those of intense hatred? Or can he be expected to do other than to seize the first moment which shall promise him success to gratify his vengeance? To apprehend that he would not do so would evince the most deplorable ignorance of the elements of human nature.

We warn the American people, and the American Government to be wise in their day and generation. The time may come that those whom they now despise and hate, may be needed. Those compelled foes may, by and by be wanted as friends. America cannot always sit, as a queen, in peace and repose. Prouder and stronger governments than hers have been shattered by the bolts of the wrath of


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a just God. We beseech her to have a care how she goads the sable oppressed in the land. We warn her in the name of retribution, to look to her ways, for in an evil hour those hands that have been engaged in beautifying and adorning the fair fields of our country, may yet become the instruments of spreading desolation, devastation, and death throughout our borders. -- F. D.

The North Star, November 9, 1849

The Destiny of Colored Americans
It is impossible to settle, by the light of the present, and by the experience of the past, any thing, definitely and absolutely, as to the future condition of the colored people of this country; but, so far as present indications determine, it is clear that this land must continue to be the home of the colored man so long as it remains the abode of civilization and religion. For more than two hundred years we have been identified with its soil, its products, and its institutions; under the sternest and bitterest circumstances of slavery and oppression -- under the lash of Slavery at the South -- under the sting of prejudice and malice at the North -- and under hardships the most unfavorable to existence and population, we have lived, and continue to live and increase. The persecuted red man of the forest, the original owner of the soil, has, step by step, retreated from the Atlantic lakes and rivers; escaping, as it were, before the footsteps of the white man, and gradually disappearing from the face of the country. He looks upon the steamboats, the railroads, and canals, cutting and crossing his former hunting grounds; and upon the ploughshare, throwing up the bones of his venerable ancestors, and beholds his glory departing -- and his heart sickens at the desolation. He spurns the civilization -- he hates the race which has despoiled him, and unable to measure arms with his superior foe, he dies.

Not so with the black man. More unlike the European in form, feature and color -- called to endure greater hardships, injuries and insults than those to which the Indians have been subjected, he yet lives and prospers under every disadvantage. Long have his enemies sought to expatriate him, and to teach his children that this is not their home, but in spite of all their cunning schemes, and subtle contrivances, his footprints yet mark the soil of his birth, and he gives every indication that America will, for ever, remain the home of his posterity. We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country; be the destiny of the latter what it may.

It is idle -- worse than idle, ever to think of our expatriation, or removal. The history of the colonization society must extinguish all such speculations. We are rapidly filling up the number of four millions; and all the gold of California combined, would be insufficient to defray the expenses attending our colonization. We are, as laborers, too essential to the interests of our white fellow-countrymen, to make a very grand effort to drive us from this country among probable events.


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While labor is needed, the laborer cannot fail to be valued; and although passion and prejudice may sometimes vociferate against us, and demand our expulsion, such efforts will only be spasmodic, and can never prevail against the sober second thought of self-interest. We are here, and here we are likely to be. To imagine that we shall ever be eradicated is absurd and ridiculous. We can be remodified, changed, and assimilated, but never extinguished. We repeat, therefore, that we are here; and that this is our country; and the question for the philosophers and statesmen of the land ought to be, What principles should dictate the policy of the action towards us? We shall neither die out, nor be driven out; but shall go with this people, either as a testimony against them, or as an evidence in their favor throughout their generations. We are clearly on their hands, and must remain there for ever. All this we say for the benefit of those who hate the Negro more than they love their country. In an article, under the caption of "Government and its Subjects," (published in our last week's paper,) we called attention to the unwise, as well as the unjust policy usually adopted, by our Government, towards its colored citizens. We would continue to direct attention to that policy, and in our humble way, we would remonstrate against it, as fraught with evil to the white man, as well as to his victim.

The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery. Virtue cannot prevail among the white people, by its destruction among the black people, who form a part of the whole community. It is evident that white and black "must fall or flourish together." In the light of this great truth, laws ought to be enacted, and institutions established -- all distinctions, founded on complexion, ought to be repealed, repudiated, and for ever abolished -- and every right, privilege, and immunity, now enjoyed by the white man, ought to be as freely granted to the man of color.

Where "knowledge is power," that nation is the most powerful which has the largest population of intelligent men; for a nation to cramp, and circumscribe the mental faculties of a class of its inhabitants, is as unwise as it is cruel, since it, in the same proportion, sacrifices its power and happiness. The American people, in the light of this reasoning, are, at this moment, in obedience to their pride and folly, (we say nothing of the wickedness of the act,) wasting one sixth part of the energies of the entire nation by transforming three millions of its men into beasts of burden. -- What a loss to industry, skill, invention, (to say nothing of its foul and corrupting influence,) is Slavery! How it ties the hand, cramps the mind, darkens the understanding, and paralyses the whole man! Nothing is more evident to a man who reasons at all, than that America is acting an irrational part in continuing the slave system at the South, and in oppressing its free colored citizens at the North. Regarding the nation as an individual, the act of enslaving and oppressing thus, is as wild and senseless as it would be for Nicholas to order the amputation of the right arm of every Russian soldier before engaging in a war with France. We again repeat that Slavery is the peculiar weakness of America, as well as its peculiar crime; and the day may yet come when this visionary and oft repeated declaration will be found to contain a great truth. -- F. D.

The North Star, November 16, 1849


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Part Three: From the Compromise of 1850 to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

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Henry Clay and Slavery
Long and assiduously have the derided and contemned advocates of emancipation labored in the work of disseminating their principles and opinions at the North; and anxiously have they looked forward to the period when these opinions and principles should be brought before the entire nation. That time has now arrived. Notwithstanding that the slaveholders of the South, with equal assiduity have been active in originating schemes, with a view to stay the progress of these opinions and principles, and in fortifying the system of slavery against attack, by trampling upon the right of petition, by suppressing free discussion, by fettering the American press, by gagging the American pulpit, and by enlarging their borders, -- the judgment-day of slavery is dawning -- the devices of the oppressor, thanks to the God of the oppressed, have most signally failed -- the "wisdom of the crafty" has been confounded, and the "counsels of the ungodly have been brought to nought;" the great movement for freedom has rolled onward with a speed accelerated in proportion to the amount of opposition arrayed against it. This should be a time of rejoicing with the humble laborers in the cause. We speak advisedly, and in no canting spirit, when we term this cause holy; for if to have triumphed over foes mighty and multitudinous -- to have removed mountains of difficulty, -- if to have, with one, "chased a thousand," and with two, to have "put ten thousand to flight," be any evidence of the guardianship of Heaven, we can say, with one of old, "Truly the Lord is with us." This dreaded agitation, so feeble in its commencement, now rocks the land, from end to end. The vexed question of slavery has forced itself into the councils of the nation; and, like the rod of the Hebrew deliverer, it has swallowed up all other topics. Scarcely a day has passed since the meeting of the present Congress, but that the hated subject has been the theme of fiery discourse. Our entire exchange comes to us laden with leaders and speeches on this once obscure and strictly avoided topic. The public mind has reached a point of interest and excitement unprecedented. The South demands the extension of slavery into the new territories; while the North sternly insists upon its exclusion; but words pass on both sides, and the waves of agitation rise higher and higher. It is at this juncture that the crafty Clay, with his characteristic temper and skill, has thrown himself on the turbid waters of debate. He comes, as he is wont to do, with that soft and gentle diction, and in that spirit of conciliation and compromise, for which he has been so long and so highly distinguished. He wishes, as usual, to revive the expiring embers of patriotism -- to soothe all asperities -- to allay all sectional jealousies, and to knit the nation into a firmer bond of union. He has presented a string of resolutions to the Senate, for the purpose, (to use his own language,) of making "an amicable arrangement of all questions in controversy between the free and the slave States, growing out of the subject of slavery." 52 This object, it must be admitted, is a comprehensive one; and it displays no small ambition that any one man should essay to accomplish it. But let this pass. Will he succeed? is the question. We think not. The plan which Mr. Clay proposes, like all Southern compromises, gives everything to Liberty, in words, and secures everything to Slavery, in deeds. He is most generous in giving away that which he does not possess; but is never betrayed into the weakness of bestowing that which he has


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the power to retain. The first Resolution of his compromise goes the enormous length of proposing the admission of California into the Union, without forcing her to open her golden domain to the foul and corrupting system of slavery. What a magnificent concession is here! Ought not every Northern man to bow, with grateful emotion, to the magnanimous man by whom it is proffered? This liberal and generous concession, to be fully appreciated, must be viewed in the light of certain notorious facts. The first fact is, that California has already, with singular unanimity, adopted a constitution which excludes for ever the foul system of bondage from her borders. The next fact is, that she has already received, from the present Administration of the United States government, especial marks of its approbation. Another fact is, with the growing population of California, her vast extent and boundless wealth, she is, of herself sufficiently strong to command respect, without asking the favor of any; and the last and most important fact of all is, that the North has the disposition and power to admit her into the Union, with or without the generous compromise, so nobly and complacently presented by that father of compromises, Henry Clay. Mr. Clay's proffered liberality is about as noble as that of a highwayman, who, when in the power of a traveller, and on his way to prison, proposes a consultation, and offers to settle the unhappy difficulty which has occurred between himself and the latter, by accepting the half of the contents of his purse, assuring him, at the same time, that IF his pistol had NOT missed fire, he might have possessed himself of the whole. This assuming to concede, as a mark of liberality, the right of a State to enter this Union, without being compelled to have the foul curse of slavery fastened upon her, would be about as ridiculous as it is disgraceful; but that the slightest token of concession, on the part of the South to the North, is hailed by so many doughfaces with marks of humble gratitude! The impudence of slaveholders exceeds everything! They talk about the rights (!!) of slavery, just as if it were possible for slavery to have rights. The right to introduce it into the new territories! the constitutional right, &c. Shame on such insolent pretensions! Slavery has NO RIGHTS. It is a foul and damning outrage upon all rights, and has no right to exist anywhere, in or out of the territories. "The earth is the Lord's," and "righteousness" should "cover it;" and he who concedes any part of it to the introduction of slavery, is an enemy to God, an invader of his dominion, and a rebel against his government.

The next resolution of Mr. Clay adopts practically, the non-intervention doctrine so universally held up to ridicule by the Whig press of the North, as the off-spring of that prince of sycophants, Gen. Cass. They are as follows:

"Resolved, that the western boundary of the State of Texas, ought to be fixed on the Rio del Norte, commencing one marine league from its mouth, and running up that river to the Southern line of New Mexico; thence with that line eastwardly, and so continuing in the same direction, to the line established between the United States and Spain, excluding any portion of New Mexico, whether lying on the east or west of that river.

"Resolved, That it be proposed to the State of Texas, that the United States will provide for the payment of all that portion of the legitimate and bona fide public debt of that State, contracted prior to its annexation to the United States, and for which the


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duties on foreign imports were pledged by the said State to its creditors, not exceeding the sum of $ --, in consideration of the said duties so pledged having been no longer applicable to that object, after the said annexation, but having thenceforward become payable to the United States; and upon the condition, also, that the State of Texas shall, by some solemn and authentic act of her Legislature, or of a Convention, relinquish to the United States any claim which it has to any part of New Mexico."

No comments on the foregoing resolutions, are needed from us. We put them on record merely as links in the chain of this compromise. It will be seen that Mr. Clay does not concede the justice of the claims which Texas has recently set up, for a large portion of New Mexico. So far so good.

The fifth and sixth resolution are as follows:

"Resolved, That it is inexpedient to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, while that institution continues to exist in the State of Maryland, without the consent of that State, without the consent of the people of the District, and without just compensation to the owners of slaves within the District.

"But, Resolved, That it is expedient to prohibit within the District the slave-trade, in slaves brought into it from States or places beyond the limits of the District, either to be sold therein as merchandize, or to be transported to other markets without the District of Columbia."

If the abolition of slavery is to depend upon the assent of the slaveholders of Maryland, and the other contingencies specified, it is easy to see that slavery in the District of Columbia cannot be reached until the last vestige of slavery has disappeared from the State of Maryland. When that event takes place, there will be no necessity for compromise. And so far as these resolution have any bearing at all, their effect will be to clog the wheels of emancipation.

What is said about abolishing the slave-trade in the District of Columbia, is a mere ruse: since the slavetraders of Maryland can easily reside in Washington, and sell their slaves out of that city, under the very management which pretends to obstruct the trade. While slavery remains in the District, and the right to buy and sell is retained by the slaveholders, it will be impossible to suppress the slavetrade there.

The seventh resolution in the series is as follows:

"Resolved, That more effectual provision ought to be made by law, according to the requirement of the Constitution, for the restitution and delivery of persons bound to service or labor in any State who may escape into any other State or territory in the Union."

Hardened as we have had reason to believe Mr. Clay to be, and inconsistent as he always is, we scarcely expected such a resolution from him as the foregoing, at this time, and in such a connection. When the sympathy of the nation has, by his eloquence and that of others, just been wrought up to the greatest intensity for the Hungarian fugitives from oppression, that he should propose such a resolution, at such a time, for hunting down fugitives in our own land, who are fleeing from a bondage and tyranny far more terrible than that of Austria, is almost as shocking to our sense of consistency and propriety, as it is revolting to our moral perceptions of right and wrong.


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But we give Mr. Clay's eighth and last resolution, that the reader may judge for himself as to the benefit which freedom will derive from this mis-named compromise. To us, the whole seems like the handle of a jug -- all on one side.

"Resolved, That Congress has no power to prohibit or obstruct the trade in slaves between the slaveholding States; but that the admission or exclusion of slaves brought from one into another of them, depends exclusively upon their own particular laws."

This resolution declares what is not true. -- If there be any meaning in words, the Constitution of the U.S. does confer upon Congress full powers to abolish the slave trade between the States. Having already extended this article beyond the limits we had prescribed, we bring it at once to a close. -- F. D.

The North Star, February 8, 1850

At Home Again
Having been, during the past few weeks, the special object of attack, marked out by a corrupt and fiendish Press, for assassination, the victim of a continuous train of almost unprecedented abuse -- harassed and dogged from day to day by the furious blood-hounds of American Slavery, -- I should be something more than a Stoic, if I did not feel and acknowledge a sense of profound gratitude to the God of the oppressed, that I am again permitted safely to occupy my editorial chair. Never since the day I entered the field of public effort in the cause of my enslaved brethren, have I been called to endure persecution more bitter, insults more brutal, violence more fierce, scorn and contempt more malicious and demoniacal, than that heaped upon me in the city of New York, during the past three weeks. I have been made to feel keenly that I am in an enemy's land -- surrounded on all sides by hardships, difficulties and dangers -- that on the side of the oppressor there is power, and that there are few to take up the cause of my deeply injured and down-trodden people. These things grieve, but do not appal me. Not an inch will I retreat -- not one jot of zeal will I abate -- not one word will I retract; and,


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in the strength of God, while the red current of life flows through my veins, I will continue to labor for the downfall of slavery and the freedom of my race. I am denounced as an offender. I am not ignorant of my offences. I plead guilty to the worst of those laid to my charge. Amplified as they have been, enormous as they are alleged to be, I do not shrink from looking them full in the face, and glorying in having committed them. My crime is, that I have assumed to be a man, entitled to all the rights, privileges and dignity, which belong to human nature -- that color is no crime, and that all men are brothers. I have acted on this presumption. The very "head and front of my offending hath this extent -- no more." I have not merely talked of human brotherhood and human equality, but have reduced that talk to practice. This I have done in broad open day, scorning concealment. I have walked through the streets of New York, in company with white persons, not as a menial, but as an equal. This was done with no purpose to inflame the public mind; not to provoke popular violence; not to make a display of my contempt for public opinion; but simply as a matter of course, and because it was right so to do. The right to associate with my fellow worms of the dust, on terms of equality, without regard to color, is a right which I will yield only with my latest breath.

My readers will have observed, in the North Star of last week, an account of a most cowardly assault made upon me in the Battery at New York. Like most other statements which emanate from the American press, this one (though partly true) is false in several particulars. It is not true that I walked down Broadway with two white females resting on my arm, in the case alluded to, although I insist upon the right to do so. It is not true that the ladies in company with me placed themselves under the care of the gentleman (ruffian?) who assaulted me, nor any of the villainous party, nor of anybody else. It is not true that I sneered or spoke to the loafing assailants. The facts briefly are these. Myself and friends were going to Philadelphia, and supposing that the "John Porter" departed from New York at twelve o'clock, we rode down a quarter before twelve but found on our arrival, that we had been mistaken; the time of starting being half-past one o'clock. The interval, therefore, we passed in the Battery. When about to leave for the Steamer, five or six men surrounded us, assailing us with all sorts of coarse and filthy language, and two of them finally struck the ladies on the head, while another attacked me. I warded off the blows with my umbrella, and the cowardly creatures left without doing any personal harm. Thinking that we should not be disturbed by them again we walked slowly toward the Steamer, one of the mob observing that I was off my guard, ran up behind me and before I could put myself in a position to ward off the assassin's blow, I was struck in the face. These are the whole facts in the case. I never was more calm or self-possessed than when under his beastly assault. I felt no indignation towards the poor miserable wretches who committed the outrage. They were but executing upon me the behests of the proslavery church and the clergy of the land; doing the dirty work of the men who despise them, and who have no more respect for them in reality than they have for me.

F.D.

The North Star, May 30, 1850


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A Letter to the American Slaves from Those Who Have Fled from American Slavery
On August 21, 1850, four weeks before the Fugitive Slave bill became law, Douglass presided at a convention at Cazenovia, New York, known as the "Fugitive Slave Convention." Over 2,000 people attended the meeting among whom were thirty fugitives. [The following letter] was drawn up urging the slaves to escape to freedom. The convention pledged itself to raise funds for the defense of William Chaplin, who had been imprisoned in Maryland for assisting in the escape of the slaves of Robert Toombs and Alexander H. Stephens. A week later at an "Anti-Fugitive Slave Bill Meeting" at Syracuse, Douglass and J. C. Hathaway raised three hundred and fifty dollars for Chaplin's defense. 53 [II:43]

Afflicted and Beloved Brothers:

The meeting which sends you this letter, is a meeting of runaway slaves. We thought it well, that they, who had once suffered, as you still suffer, that they, who had once drunk of that bitterest of all bitter cups, which you are still compelled to drink of, should come together for the purpose of making a communication to you.

The chief object of this meeting is, to tell you what circumstances we find ourselves in -- that, so you may be able to judge for yourselves, whether the prize we have obtained is worth the peril of the attempt to obtain it.

The heartless pirates, who compelled us to call them "master," sought to persuade us, as such pirates seek to persuade you, that the condition of those, who escape from their clutches, is thereby made worse, instead of better. We confess, that we had our fears, that this might be so. Indeed, so great was our ignorance, that we could not be sure that the abolitionists were not the friends, which our masters represented them to be. When they told us, that the abolitionists, could they lay hands upon us would buy and sell us, we could not certainly know, that they spoke falsely; and when they told us, that abolitionists are in the habit of skinning the black man for leather, and of regaling their cannibalism on his flesh, even such enormities seemed to us to be possible. But owing to the happy change in our circumstances, we are not as ignorant and credulous now, as we once were; and if we did not know it before, we know it now, that slaveholders are as great liars, as they are great tyrants.

The abolitionists act the part of friends and brothers to us; and our only complaint against them is, that there are so few of them. The abolitionists, on whom it is safe to rely, are, almost all of them, members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, or of the Liberty Party. There are other abolitionists: but most of them are grossly inconsistent; and, hence, not entirely trustworthy abolitionists. So inconsistent are they, as to vote for anti-abolitionists for civil rulers, and to acknowledge the obligation of laws, which they themselves interpret to be pro-slavery.

We get wages for our labor. We have schools for our children. We have opportunities to hear and to learn to read the Bible -- that blessed book, which is all for freedom, notwithstanding the lying slaveholders who say it is all for slavery. Some of us take part in the election of civil rulers. Indeed, but for the priests and politicians, the influence of most of whom is against us, our condition


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would be every way eligible. The priests and churches of the North, are, with comparatively few exceptions, in league with the priests and churches of the South; and this, of itself, is sufficient to account for the fact, that a caste-religion and a Negro-pew are found at the North, as well as at the South. The politicians and political parties of the North are connected with the politicians and political parties of the South; and hence, the political arrangements and interests of the North, as well as the ecclesiastical arrangements and interests, are adverse to the colored population. But, we rejoice to know, that all this political and ecclesiastical power is on the wane. The callousness of American religion and American democracy has become glaring: and, every year, multitudes, once deluded by them, come to repudiate them. The credit of this repudiation is due, in a great measure, to the American Anti-Slavery Society, to the Liberty Party, and to antisectarian meetings, and conventions. The purest sect on earth is the rival of, instead of one with, Christianity. It deserves not to be trusted with a deep and honest and earnest reform. The temptations which beset the pathway of such a reform, are too mighty for it to resist. Instead of going forward for God, it will slant off for itself. Heaven grant, that, soon, not a shred of sectarianism, not a shred of the current religion, not a shred of the current politics of this land, may remain. Then will follow, aye, that will itself be, the triumph of Christianity: and, then, white men will love black men and gladly acknowledge that all men have equal rights. Come, blessed day -- come quickly.

Including our children, we number in Canada, at least, twenty thousand. The total of our population in the free States far exceeds this. Nevertheless, we are poor, we can do little more to promote your deliverance than pray for it to the God of the oppressed. We will do what we can to supply you with pocket compasses. In dark nights, when his good guiding star is hidden from the flying slave, a pocket compass greatly facilitates his exodus. Candor requires the admission, that some of us would not furnish them, if we could; for some of us have become nonresistants, and have discarded the use of these weapons: and would say to you: "love your enemies; do good to them, which hate you; bless them that curse you; and pray for them, which despitefully use you." Such of us would be glad to be able to say, that all the colored men of the North are nonresistants. But, in point of fact, it is only a handful of them, who are. When the insurrection of the Southern slaves shall take place, as take place it will unless speedily prevented by voluntary emancipation, the great majority of the colored men of the North, however much to the grief of any of us, will be found by your side, with deep-stored and long-accumulated revenge in their hearts, and with death-dealing weapons in their hands. It is not to be disguised, that a colored man is as much disposed, as a white man, to resist, even unto death, those who oppress him. The colored American, for the sake of relieving his colored brethren, would no more hesitate to shoot an American slaveholder, than would a white American, for the sake of delivering his white brother, hesitate to shoot an Algerine slaveholder. The State motto of Virginia: "Death to Tyrants;" is as well the black man's, as the white man's motto. We tell you these things not to encourage, or justify, your resort to physical force; but, simply, that you may know, be it to your joy or


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sorrow to know it, what your Northern colored brethren are, in these important respects. This truth you are entitled to know, however the knowledge of it may affect you, and however you may act, in view of it.

We have said, that some of us are non-resistants. But, while such would dissuade you from all violence toward the slaveholder, let it not be supposed, that they regard it as guiltier than those strifes, which even good men are wont to justify. If the American revolutionists had excuse for shedding but one drop of blood, then have the American slaves excuse for making blood to flow "even unto the horse-bridles."

Numerous as are the escapes from slavery, they would be far more so, were you not embarrassed by your misinterpretations of the rights of property. You hesitate to take even the dullest of your master's horses -- whereas it is your duty to take the fleetest. Your consciences suggest doubts, whether in quitting your bondage, you are at liberty to put in your packs what you need of food and clothing. But were you better informed, you would not scruple to break your master's locks, and take all their money. You are taught to respect the rights of property. But, no such right belongs to the slaveholder. His right to property is but the robber-right. In every slaveholding community, the rights of property all center in them, whose coerced and unrequited toil has created the wealth in which their oppressors riot. Moreover, if your oppressors have rights of property, you, at least, are exempt from all obligations to respect them. For you are prisoners of war, in an enemy's country -- of a war, too, that is unrivalled for its injustice, cruelty, meanness -- and therefore, by all the rules of war, you have the fullest liberty to plunder, burn, and kill, as you may have occasion to do to promote your escape.

We regret to be obliged to say to you, that it is not everyone of the Free States, which offers you an asylum. Even within the last year, fugitive slaves have been arrested in some of the Free States, and replunged into slavery. But, make your way to New York or New England, and you will be safe. It is true, that even in New York and New England, there are individuals, who would rejoice to see the poor flying slave cast back into the horrors of slavery. But, even these are restrained by public sentiment. It is questionable whether even Daniel Webster, or Moses Stuart, would give chase to a fugitive slave; and if they would not, who would? -- for the one is chief-politician and the other chief-priest.

We do not forget the industrious efforts, which are now in making to get new facilities at the hands of Congress for re-enslaving those, who have escaped from slavery. But we can assure you, that as to the State of New York and the New England States, such efforts must prove fruitless. Against all such devilism -- against all kidnappers -- the colored people of these States will "stand for their life," and, what is more, the white people of these States will not stand against them. A regenerated public sentiment has, forever, removed these States beyond the limits of the slaveholders' hunting ground. Defeat -- disgrace -- and, it may be, death -- will be their only reward for pursuing their prey into this abolitionized portion of our country.

A special reason why you should not stop in that part of the Nation which comes within the bounds of John McLean's judicial district, is, that he is a great man in one of the religious sects, and an aspirant for the Presidency. Fugitive


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slaves and their friends fare hard in the hands of this judge. He not only puts a pro-slavery construction on the Federal Constitution, and holds, that law can make property of man -- a marketable commodity of the image of God, but, in various other ways, he shows that his sympathies are with the oppressor. Shun Judge McLean, then, even as you would the Reverend Moses Stuart. 54 The law of the one is as deadly an enemy to you, as is the religion of the other.

There are three points in your conduct, when you shall have become inhabitants of the North, on which we cannot refrain from admonishing you.

1st. If you will join a sectarian church, let it not be one which approves of the Negro-pew, and which refuses to treat slaveholding as a high crime against God and man. It were better, that you sacrifice your lives than that by going into the Negro-pew, you invade your self-respect -- debase your souls -- play the traitor to your race -- and crucify afresh Him who died for the one brotherhood of man.

2d. Join no political party, which refuses to commit itself fully, openly, and heartfully, in its newspapers, meetings, and nominations, to the doctrine, that slavery is the grossest of all absurdities, as well as the guiltiest of all abominations, and that there can no more be a law for the enslavement of man, made in the image of God, than for the enslavement of God himself. Vote for no man for civil office, who makes your complexion a bar to political, ecclesiastic or social equality. Better die than insult yourself and insult our social equality. Better die than insult yourself and insult every person of African blood, and insult your Maker, by contributing to elevate to civil office he who refuses to eat with you, to sit by your side in the House of Worship, or to let his children sit in the school by the side of your children.

3d. Send not your children to the school which the malignant and murderous prejudice of white people has gotten up exclusively for colored people. Valuable as learning is, it is too costly, if it is acquired at the expense of such self-degradation.

The self-sacrificing, and heroic, and martyr-spirit, which would impel the colored men of the North to turn their backs on pro-slavery churches and pro-slavery politics, and pro-slavery schools, would exert a far mightier influence against slavery, than could all their learning, however great, if purchased by concessions of their manhood, and surrenders of their rights, and coupled, as it then would be, by characteristic meanness and servility.

And now, brethren, we close this letter with assuring you, that we do not, cannot, forget you. You are ever in our minds, our hearts, our prayers. Perhaps, you are fearing, that the free colored people of the United States will suffer themselves to be carried away from you by the American Colonization Society. Fear it not. In vain is it, that this greatest and most malignant enemy of the African race is now busy in devising new plans, and in seeking the aid of Government, to perpetuate your enslavement. It wants us away from your side, that you may be kept in ignorance. But we will remain by your side to enlighten you. It wants us away from your side, that you may be contented. But we will remain by your side, to keep you, and make you more, discontented. It wants us away from your side to the end, that your unsuccored and conscious helplessness may make you the easier and surer prey of your oppressors. But we will remain by your side to


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sympathize with you, and cheer you, and give you the help of our rapidly swelling members. The land of our enslaved brethren is our land, and death alone shall part us.

We cannot forget you, brethren, for we know your sufferings and we know your sufferings because we know from experience, what it is to be an American slave. So galling was our bondage, that, to escape from it, we suffered the loss of all things, and braved every peril, and endured every hardship. Some of us left parents, some wives, some children. Some of us were wounded with guns and dogs, as we fled. Some of us, to make good our escape, suffered ourselves to be nailed up in boxes, and to pass for merchandise. Some of us secreted ourselves in the suffocating holds of ships. Nothing was so dreadful to us, as slavery; and hence, it is almost literally true, that we dreaded nothing, which could befall us, in our attempt to get clear of it. Our condition could be made no worse, for we were already in the lowest depths of earthly woe. Even should we be overtaken, and resubjected to slavery, this would be but to return to our old sufferings and sorrows and should death itself prove to be the price of our endeavor after freedom, what would that be but a welcome release to men, who had, all their lifetime, been killed every day, and "killed all the day long."

We have referred to our perils and hardships in escaping from slavery. We are happy to be able to say, that every year is multiplying the facilities for leaving the Southern prison house. The Liberty Party, the Vigilance Committee of New York, 55 individuals, and companies of individuals in various parts of the country, are doing all they can, and it is much to afford you a safe and a cheap passage from slavery to liberty. They do this however, not only at great expense of property, but at great peril of liberty and life. Thousands of you have heard, ere this, that, within the last fortnight, the precious name of William L. Chaplin has been added to the list of those, who, in helping you gain your liberty, have lost their own. 56 Here is a man, whose wisdom, cultivation, moral worth, bring him into the highest and best class of men -- and, yet, he becomes a willing martyr for the poor, despised, forgotten slave's sake. Your remembrance of one such fact is enough to shed light and hope upon your darkest and most disponding moments.

Brethren, our last word to you is to bid you be of good cheer, and not to despair of your deliverance. Do not abandon yourselves, as have many thousands of American slaves, to the crime of suicide. Live! live to escape from slavery, live to serve God! Live till He shall Himself call you into eternity! Be prayerful -- be brave -- be hopeful. "Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh."

The North Star, September 5th, 1850


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Lecture on Slavery, No. 1
Under the sponsorship of the Rochester anti-slavery group, Douglass spoke frequently in Corinthian Hall, the city's most popular auditorium. Here, during the winter of 1850 -- 51, he taught a course on slavery. The aim of the course, which consisted of seven lectures, was to counteract the influence of the local press and the pulpit in creating among the people of Rochester "an indifference and coldness" toward the enslavement of their fellowmen "which might be looked for only in men hardened by the most atrocious and villainous crimes." The lectures were well attended and they contributed to the growth of anti-slavery sentiment in the community; several were reported in full in the local press and reprinted in pamphlet form. [II:39]


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LECTURE ON SLAVERY, NO. 1, delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday evening, December 1, 1850

I come before you this evening to deliver the first lecture of a course which I purpose to give in this city, during the present winter, on the subject of American Slavery. 57

I make this announcement with no feelings of self-sufficiency. If I do not mistake my own emotions, they are such as result from a profound sense of my incompetency to do justice to the task which I have just announced, and have now entered upon.

If any, then, demand of me why I speak, I plead as my apology, the fact that abler and more eloquent men have failed to speak, or what, perhaps, is more true, and therefore more strong, such men have spoken only on the wrong side of the question, and have thus thrown their influence against the cause of liberty, humanity and benevolence.

There are times in the experience of almost every community, when even the humblest member thereof may properly presume to teach -- when the wise and great ones, the appointed leaders of the people, exert their powers of mind to complicate, mystify, entangle and obscure the simple truth -- when they exert the noblest gifts which heaven has vouchsafed to man to mislead the popular mind, and to corrupt the public heart, -- then the humblest may stand forth and be excused for opposing even his weakness to the torrent of evil.

That such a state of things exists in this community, I have abundant evidence. I learn it from the Rochester press, from the Rochester pulpit, and in my intercourse with the people of Rochester. Not a day passes over me that I do not meet with apparently good men, who utter sentiments in respect to this subject which would do discredit to savages. They speak of the enslavement of their fellow-men with an indifference and coldness which might be looked for only in men hardened by the most atrocious and villainous crimes.

The fact is, we are in the midst of a great struggle. The public mind is widely and deeply agitated; and bubbling up from its perturbed waters, are many and great impurities, whose poisonous miasma demands a constant antidote.

Whether the contemplated lectures will in any degree contribute towards answering this demand, time will determine.

Of one thing, however, I can assure my hearers -- that I come up to this work at the call of duty, and with an honest desire to promote the happiness and well-being of every member of this community, as well as to advance the emancipation of every slave.

The audience will pardon me if I say one word more by way of introduction. It is my purpose to give this subject a calm, candid and faithful discussion. I shall not aim to shock nor to startle my hearers; but to convince their judgment and to secure their sympathies for the enslaved. I shall aim to be as stringent as truth, and as severe as justice; and if at any time I shall fail of this, and do injustice in any respect, I shall be most happy to be set right by any gentleman who shall hear me, subject, of course, to order and decorum. I shall deal, during these lectures, alike with individuals and institutions -- men shall no more escape me than


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things. I shall have occasion, at times, to be even personal, and to rebuke sin in high places. I shall not hesitate to arraign either priests or politicians, church or state, and to measure all by the standard of justice, and in the light of truth. I shall not forget to deal with the unrighteous spirit of caste which prevails in this community; and I shall give particular attention to the recently enacted fugitive slave bill. I shall keep my eye upon the Congress which is to commence to-morrow, and fully inform myself as to its proceedings. In a word, the whole subject of slavery, in all its bearings, shall have a full and impartial discussion.

A very slight acquaintance with the history of American slavery is sufficient to show that it is an evil of which it will be difficult to rid this country. It is not the creature of a moment, which to-day is, and to-morrow is not; it is not a pigmy, which a slight blow may demolish; it is no youthful upstart, whose impertinent pratings may be silenced by a dignified contempt. No: it is an evil of gigantic proportions, and of long standing.

Its origin in this country dates back to the landing of the pilgrims on Plymouth rock. -- It was here more than two centuries ago. The first spot poisoned by its leprous presence, was a small plantation in Virginia. The slaves, at that time, numbered only twenty. They have now increased to the frightful number of three millions; and from that narrow plantation, they are now spread over by far the largest half of the American Union. Indeed, slavery forms an important part of the entire history of the American people. Its presence may be seen in all American affairs. It has become interwoven with all American institutions, and has anchored itself in the very soil of the American Constitution. It has thrown its paralysing arm over freedom of speech, and the liberty of the press; and has created for itself morals and manners favorable to its own continuance. It has seduced the church, corrupted the pulpit, and brought the powers of both into degrading bondage; and now, in the pride of its power, it even threatens to bring down that grand political edifice, the American Union, unless every member of this republic shall so far disregard his conscience and his God as to yield to its infernal behests.

That must be a powerful influence which can truly be said to govern a nation; and that slavery governs the American people, is indisputably true. If there were any doubt on this point, a few plain questions (it seems to me) could not fail to remove it. What power has given this nation its Presidents for more than fifty years? Slavery. What power is that to which the present aspirants to presidential honors are bowing? Slavery. We may call it "Union," "Constitution," "Harmony," or "American institutions," that to which such men as Cass, Dickinson, Webster, Clay and other distinguished men of this country, are devoting their energies, is nothing more nor less than American slavery. It is for this that they are writing letters, making speeches, and promoting the holding of great mass meetings, professedly in favor of "the Union." These men know the service most pleasing to their master, and that which is most likely to be richly rewarded. Men may "serve God for nought," as did Job; but he who serves the devil has an eye to his reward. "Patriotism," "obedience to the law," "prosperity to the country," have come to mean, in the mouths of these distinguished statesmen, a mean and servile acquiescence in the most flagitious and profligate


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legislation in favor of slavery. I might enlarge here on this picture of the slave power, and tell of its influence upon the press in the free States, and upon the condition and rights of the free colored people of the North; but I forbear for the present. -- Enough has been said, I trust, to convince all that the abolition of this evil will require time, energy, zeal, perseverance and patience; that it will require fidelity, a martyr-like spirit of self-sacrifice, and a firm reliance on Him who has declared Himself to be "the God of the oppressed." Having said thus much upon the power and prevalence of slavery, allow me to speak of the nature of slavery itself; and here I can speak, in part, from experience -- I can speak with the authority of positive knowledge.

More than twenty years of my life were consumed in a state of slavery. My childhood was environed by the baneful peculiarities of the slave system. I grew up to manhood in the presence of this hydra-headed monster -- not as a master -- not as an idle spectator -- not as the guest of the slaveholder; but as A SLAVE eating the bread and drinking the cup of slavery with the most degraded of my brother bondmen, and sharing with them all the painful conditions of their wretched lot. In consideration of these facts, I feel that I have a right to speak, and to speak strongly. Yet my friends, I feel bound to speak truly.

Goading as have been the cruelties to which I have been subjected -- bitter as have been the trials through which I have passed -- exasperating as have been (and still are) the indignities offered to my manhood, I find in them no excuse for the slightest departure from truth in dealing with any branch of this subject.

First of all, I will state, as well as I can, the legal and social relation of master and slave. A master is one (to speak in the vocabulary of the Southern States) who claims and exercises a right of property in the person of a fellow man. This he does with the force of the law and the sanction of Southern religion. The law gives the master absolute power over the slave. He may work him, flog him, hire him out, sell him, and, in certain contingencies, kill him, with perfect impunity. The slave is a human being, divested of all rights -- reduced to the level of a brute -- a mere "chattel" in the eye of the law -- placed beyond the circle of human brotherhood -- cut off from his kind -- his name, which the "recording angel" may have enrolled in heaven, among the blest, is impiously inserted in a master's ledger, with horses, sheep and swine. In law, the slave has no wife, no children, no country, and no home. He can own nothing, possess nothing, acquire nothing, but what must belong to another. To eat the fruit of his own toil, to clothe his person with the work of his own hands, is considered stealing. He toils that another may reap the fruit; he is industrious that another may live in idleness; he eats unbolted meal, that another may eat the bread of fine flour; he labors in chains at home, under a burning sun and a biting lash, that another may ride in ease and splendor abroad; he lives in ignorance, that another may be educated; he is abused, that another may be exalted; he rests his toil-worn limbs on the cold, damp ground, that another may repose on the softest pillow; he is clad in coarse and tattered raiment, that another may be arrayed in purple and fine linen; he is sheltered only by the wretched hovel, that a master may dwell in a magnificent mansion; and to this condition he is bound down as by an arm of iron.


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From this monstrous relation, there springs an unceasing stream of most revolting cruelties. The very accompaniments of the slave system, stamp it as the offspring of hell itself. To ensure good behavior, the slaveholder relies on the whip; to induce proper humility, he relies on the whip; to rebuke what he is pleased to term insolence, he relies on the whip, to supply the place of wages, as an incentive to toil, he relies on the whip; to bind down the spirit of the slave, to imbrute and to destroy his manhood, he relies on the whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the pillory, the bowie-knife, the pistol, and the blood-hound. These are the necessary and unvarying accompanyments of the system. Wherever slavery is found, these horrid instruments are also found. Whether on the coast of Africa, among the savage tribes, or in South Carolina, among the refined and civilized, slavery is the same, and its accompanyments one and the same. It makes no difference whether the slaveholder worships the God of the Christians or is a follower of Mahomet, he is the minister of the same cruelty, and the author of the same misery. Slavery is always slavery -- always the same foul, haggard, and damning scourge, whether found in the Eastern or in the Western Hemisphere.

There is a still deeper shade to be given to this picture. The physical cruelties are indeed sufficiently harassing and revolting; but they are but as a few grains of sand on the sea shore, or a few drops of water in the great ocean, compared with the stupendous wrongs which it inflicts upon the mental, moral and religious nature of its hapless victims. It is only when we contemplate the slave as a moral and intellectual being, that we can adequately comprehend the unparalleled enormity of slavery, and the intense criminality of the slaveholder. I have said that the slave is a man. "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a God! The beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!"

The slave is a man, "the image of God," but "a little lower than the angels;" possessing a soul, eternal and indestructible; capable of endless happiness, or immeasurable woe; a creature of hopes and fears, of affections and passions, of joys and sorrows; and he is endowed with those mysterious powers by which man soars above the things of time and sense, and grasps with undying tenacity, the elevating and sublimely glorious idea of a God. It is such a being that is smitten and blasted. The first work of slavery is to mar and deface those characteristics of its victims which distinguish men from things, and persons from property. Its first aim is to destroy all sense of high moral and religious responsibility. It reduces man to a mere machine. It cuts him off from his maker, it hides from him the laws of God, and leaves him to grope his way from time to eternity in the dark, under the arbitrary and despotic control of a frail, depraved and sinful fellow-man.

As the serpent-charmer of India is compelled to extract the deadly teeth of his venomous prey before he is able to handle him with impunity, so the slaveholder must strike down the conscience of the slave, before he can obtain the entire mastery over his victim.

It is, then, the first business of the enslaver of men to blunt, deaden and destroy the central principle of human responsibility. Conscience is to the individual soul and to society, what the law of gravitation is to the universe. It holds society


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together; it is the basis of all trust and confidence; it is the pillar of all moral rectitude. Without it, suspicion would take the place of trust; vice would be more than a match for virtue; men would prey upon each other, like the wild beasts of the desert; and earth would become a hell.

Nor is slavery more adverse to the conscience than it is to the mind.

This is shown by the fact that in every State of the American Union, where slavery exists, except the State of Kentucky, there are laws, absolutely prohibitory of education among the slaves. The crime of teaching a slave to read is punishable with severe fines and imprisonment, and, in some instances, with death itself.

Nor are the laws respecting this matter, a dead letter. Cases may occur in which they are disregarded, and a few instances may be found where slaves may have learned to read; but such are isolated cases, and only prove the rule. The great mass of slaveholders look upon education among the slaves as utterly subversive of the slave system. I well remember when my mistress first announced to my master that she had discovered that I could read. His face colored at once, with surprise and chagrin. He said that "I was ruined, and my value as a slave destroyed; that a slave should know nothing but to obey his master; that to give a Negro an inch would lead him to take an ell; that having learned how to read, I would soon want to know how to write; and that, bye and bye, I would be running away." I think my audience will bear witness to the correctness of this philosophy, and to the literal fulfilment of this prophecy.

It is perfectly well understood at the South that to educate a slave is to make him discontented with slavery, and to invest him with a power which shall open to him the treasures of freedom; and since the object of the slaveholder is to maintain complete authority over his slave, his constant vigilance is exercised to prevent everything which militates against, or endangers the stability of his authority. Education being among the menacing influences, and, perhaps, the most dangerous, is, therefore, the most cautiously guarded against.

It is true that we do not often hear of the enforcement of the law, punishing as crime the teaching of slaves to read, but this is not because of a want of disposition to enforce it. The true reason, or explanation of the matter is this, there is the greatest unanimity of opinion among the white population of the South, in favor of the policy of keeping the slave in ignorance. There is, perhaps, another reason why the law against education is so seldom violated. The slave is too poor to be able to offer a temptation sufficiently strong to induce a white man to violate it; and it is not to be supposed that in a community where the moral and religious sentiment is in favor of slavery, many martyrs will be found sacrificing their liberty and lives by violating those prohibitory enactments.

As a general rule, then, darkness reigns over the abodes of the enslaved, and "how great is that darkness!"

We are sometimes told of the contentment of the slaves, and are entertained with vivid pictures of their happiness. We are told that they often dance and sing; that their masters frequently give them wherewith to make merry; in fine, that that they have little of which to complain. I admit that the slave does sometimes sing, dance, and appear to be merry. But what does this prove? It only proves to


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my mind, that though slavery is armed with a thousand stings, it is not able entirely to kill the elastic spirit of the bondman. That spirit will rise and walk abroad, despite of whips and chains, and extract from the cup of nature, occasional drops of joy and gladness. No thanks to the slaveholder, nor to slavery, that the vivacious captive may sometimes dance in his chains, his very mirth in such circumstances, stands before God, as an accusing angel against his enslaver.

But who tells us of the extraordinary contentment and happiness of the slave? What traveller has explored the balmy regions of our Southern country and brought back "these glad tidings of joy"? Bring him on the platform, and bid him answer a few plain questions, we shall then be able to determine the weight and importance that attach to his testimony. Is he a minister? Yes. Were you ever in a slave State, sir? Yes. May I inquire the object of your mission South? To preach the gospel, sir. Of what denomination are you? A Presbyterian, sir. To whom were you introduced? To the Rev. Dr. Plummer. Is he a slaveholder, sir? Yes, sir. Has slaves about his house? Yes, sir. Were you then the guest of Dr. Plummer? Yes, sir. Waited on by slaves while there? Yes, sir. Did you preach for Dr. Plummer? Yes, sir. Did you spend your nights at the great house, or at the quarter among the slaves? At the great house. You had, then, no social intercourse with the slaves? No, sir. You fraternized, then, wholly with the white portion of the population while there? Yes, sir. This is sufficient, sir; you can leave the platform.

Nothing is more natural than that those who go into slave States, and enjoy the hospitality of slaveholders, should bring back favorable reports of the condition of the slave. If that ultra republican, the Hon. Lewis Cass could not return from the Court of France, without paying a compliment to royalty simply because King Louis Phillippe patted him on the shoulder, called him "friend," and invited him to dinner, it is not to be expected that those hungry shadows of men in the shape of ministers, that go South, can escape a contamination even more beguiling and insidious. Alas! for the weakness of poor human nature! "Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw!"

Why is it that all the reports of contentment and happiness among the slaves at the South come to us upon the authority of slaveholders, or (what is equally significant,) of slaveholder's friends? Why is it that we do not hear from the slaves direct? The answer to this question furnishes the darkest features in the American slave system.

It is often said, by the opponents of the anti-slavery cause, that the condition of the people of Ireland is more deplorable than that of the American slaves. Far be it from me to underrate the sufferings of the Irish people. They have been long oppressed; and the same heart that prompts me to plead the cause of the American bondman, makes it impossible for me not to sympathize with the oppressed of all lands. Yet I must say that there is no analogy between the two cases. The Irishman is poor, but he is not a slave. He may be in rags, but he is not a slave. He is still the master of his own body, and can say with the poet, "The hand of Douglass is his own." "The world is all before him, where to choose," and poor as may be my opinion of the British Parliament, I cannot believe that it will ever sink to such a depth of infamy as to pass a law for the recapture of Fugitive Irishmen! The shame and scandal of kidnapping will long remain wholly monopolized


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by the American Congress! The Irishman has not only the liberty to emigrate from his country, but he has liberty at home. He can write, and speak, and co-operate for the attainment of his rights and the redress of his wrongs.

The multitude can assemble upon all the green hills, and fertile plains of the Emerald Isle -- they can pour out their grievances, and proclaim their wants without molestation; and the press, that "swift-winged messenger," can bear the tidings of their doings to the extreme bounds of the civilized world. They have their "Conciliation Hall" on the banks of the Liffey, their reform Clubs, and their newspapers; they pass resolutions, send forth addresses, and enjoy the right of petition. But how is it with the American slave? Where may he assemble? Where is his Conciliation Hall? Where are his newspapers? Where is his right of petition? Where is his freedom of speech? his liberty of the press? and his right of locomotion? He is said to be happy; happy men can speak. But ask the slave -- what is his condition? -- what his state of mind? -- what he thinks of his enslavement? and you had as well address your inquiries to the silent dead. There comes no voice from the enslaved, we are left to gather his feelings by imagining what ours would be, were our souls in his soul's stead.

If there were no other fact descriptive of slavery, than that the slave is dumb, this alone would be sufficient to mark the slave system as a grand aggregation of human horrors.

Most who are present will have observed that leading men, in this country, have been puting forth their skill to secure quiet to the nation. A system of measures to promote this object was adopted a few months ago in Congress. 58

The result of those measures is known. Instead of quiet, they have produced alarm; instead of peace, they have brought us war, and so must ever be.

While this nation is guilty of the enslavement of three millions of innocent men and women, it is as idle to think of having a sound and lasting peace, as it is to think there is no God, to take cognizance of the affairs of men. There can be no peace to the wicked while slavery continues in the land, it will be condemned, and while it is condemned there will be agitation; Nature must cease to be nature; Men must become monsters; Humanity must be transformed; Christianity must be exterminated; all ideas of justice, and the laws of eternal goodness must be utterly blotted out from the human soul, ere a system so foul and infernal can escape condemnation, or this guilty Republic can have a sound and enduring Peace.

The North Star, December 5, 1850

Letter to Gerrit Smith, Esqr.
Operating in central New York among men who adhered to an anti-slavery constitutional interpretation, Douglass was constantly being called upon to justify his view that the Constitution was a pro-slavery instrument. The more he discussed this question with Gerrit Smith and William Goodell and the more he studied their writings the more difficult it


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became for him to uphold his theory. Through these discussions and readings, Douglass became convinced that the preamble to the Constitution -- that the national government had been formed to establish a more perfect union, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty -- governed the meaning of the document in all its parts and details. The Constitution was thus, by its avowed purpose, anti-slavery, Slavery was not, nor could it become legalized, and it was the duty of the federal government to eradicate it. Political action to secure that end was both warranted and necessary.

As Douglass saw it, national necessity compelled him to accept an interpretation of the Constitution which might not be evident in the document itself. Realizing the importance of having the Constitution fight for him, he interpreted it in a way most convenient for the anti-slavery crusade. The Garrisonians, by their insistence on an interpretation which the slaveholders shared, no matter how apparently correct that interpretation might be, not only played directly into the hands of their enemies, but created enmity for themselves. Whatever the average Northerner felt about slavery, he did not believe that his country was built upon falsehood and iniquities. While the Garrisonians announced their determination to destroy the Constitution and the Union to end slavery, Douglass decided to use both in the struggle against "a system of lawless violence; that never was lawful and never can be made so." 59 [II:52 -- 53]

TO GERRIT SMITH, ESQR.

Rochester, Jan. 21st, 1851

My Dear Friend:

I thank you sincerely for your donation, and feel much pleased that amid the multitudinous demands made upon your purse, you yet find the means of encouraging me in my humble labors in the cause of human redemption.

I have though much since my personal acquaintance with you and since hearing your reasons for regarding the Constitution of the United States an Anti-Slavery instrument, and although I can not yet see that instrument in the same light in which you view it, I am so much impressed by your reasoning that I have about decided to let Slaveholders and their Northern abettors have the Laboring oar in putting a proslavery interpretation upon the Constitution. I am sick and tired of arguing on the slaveholders' side of this question, although they are doubtless right so far as the intentions of the framers of the Constitution are concerned. But these intentions you fling to the winds. Your legal rules of interpretation override all speculations as to the opinions of the Constitution makers and these rules may be sound and I confess I know not how to meet or refute them on legal grounds. You will now say I have conceded all that you require, and it may be so. But there is a consideration which is of much importance between us. It is this: may we avail ourselves of legal rules which enable us to defeat even the wicked intentions of our Constitution makers? It is this question which puzzles me more than all others involved in the subject. Is it good morality to take advantage of a legal flaw and put a meaning upon a legal instrument the very opposite of what we have good reason to believe was the intention of the men who framed it? Just here is the question of difficulty with me. I know well enough that slavery is an outrage, contrary to all ideas of justice, and therefore cannot be law according to Blackstone. But may it not be law according to American legal authority?


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You will observe by reading the resolutions adopted at the Annual meeting of the Western N.Y. Anti-Slavery Society, that I have already ceased to affirm the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In drawing up the resolutions for that meeting, I purposely avoided all affirmation of the pro-slavery "Compromises," as they are termed.

My good friend, Julia Griffith, forwarded to your address one copy of my two first lectures in Rochester this morning. I hope it will reach you. I am greatly pleased by your good opinion of these lectures. I sometimes fear that being delivered by a fugitive slave who has never had a day's school constitutes the only merit they possess. Yet I am so much encouraged by my friends here, and elsewhere, that I am seriously intending, if I can command the money, to publish them in Book form. 60 Your generous offer of 25 dollars for that purpose, was timely and very thankfully received. I shall give four or five more lectures to complete the course. The fact that Negroes are turning Book makers may possibly serve to remove the popular impression that they are fit only for Bootblacking, and although they may not shine in the former profession as they have long done in the latter, I am not without hope that they will do themselves good by making the effort. I have often felt that what the colored people want most in this country is character. They want manly aspirations and a firm though modest self-reliance, and this we must have, or be like all other worthless things swept away before the march of events.

I see now that a strong effort is being made to get us out of this country. The speech of Mr. Clay in the Senate the other day, an article in the New York Tribune now before me on the subject, the starting up of a new Colonization paper in New York, 61 are facts which all point the way, and that is "Out with the Negroes," and I really fear that some whose presence in this country is necessary to the elevation of the colored people will leave us, while the degraded and worthless will remain to help bind us to our present debasement.

But I have already trespassed upon your time long enough. I know how closely your time is occupied. Miss Griffiths 62 unites with me in kind regards to yourself and Mrs. Smith.

Very gratefully yours,

Frederick Douglass

I would say excuse my writing, but that your own writing suggests that consideration so often that I do not wish to weary you by such a reminder. I am however rapidly getting over the difficulty of reading letters from your pen and am always glad to get one at any rate.

Gerrit Smith Papers, Syracuse University


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Change of Opinion Announced
The change in Douglass' anti-slavery creed had been developing for a number of years but it did not become public until 1851. 63 At the eighteenth annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society held in Syracuse in May, 1851, a resolution was submitted by Edmund Quincy proposing that the Anti-Slavery Standard, the Pennsylvania Freeman, the Anti-Slavery Bugle, and The North Star receive the recommendation of the society. When Samuel J. May suggested that the Liberty Party Paper be added to the list, Garrison opposed this motion on the ground that this journal did not stand for the dissolution of the Union and believed that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document. This in turn led to a resolution that no paper should be endorsed which did not assume the Constitution to be a pro-slavery document. Douglass thereupon announced that he could not consider his paper eligible for endorsement since he had "arrived at the firm conviction that the Constitution, construed in the light of well-established rules of legal interpretation, might be made consistent in its details with the noble purposes in its preamble," and that in the future he would insist that the Constitution "be wielded in behalf of emancipation."... His opinions had "recently changed materially in relation to political action," and he now believed that it was "the first duty of every American citizen, whose conscience permits him so to do, to use his political as well as his moral power for its [slavery's] overthrows."

These words created a stir. Enraged, Garrison cried out: "There is roguery somewhere." He moved that The North Star be stricken from the list and this was promptly voted by the convention.

Douglass never forgot Garrison's "insulting remark," though in his paper he wrote that he could "easily forgive" the man for whom he still cherished "a veneration only inferior in degree to that we owe to our conscience and to our God." [II:53 -- 54]

CHANGE OF OPINION ANNOUNCED

The debate on the resolution relative to anti-slavery newspapers [at the annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society] assumed such a character as to make it our duty to define the position of the North Star in respect to the Constitution of the United States. The ground having been distinctly taken, that no paper ought to receive the recommendation of the American Anti-Slavery Society that did not assume the Constitution to be a pro-slavery document, we felt in honor bound to announce at once to our old anti-slavery companions that we no longer possessed the requisite qualification for their official approval and commendation; and to assure them that we had arrived at the firm conviction that the Constitution, construed in the light of well established rules of legal interpretation, might be made consistent in its details with the noble purposes avowed in its preamble; and that


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hereafter we should insist upon the application of such rules to that instrument, and demand that it be wielded in behalf of emancipation. The change in our opinion on this subject has not been hastily arrived at. A careful study of the writings of Lysander Spooner, of Gerrit Smith, and of William Goodell, has brought us to our present conclusion. We found, in our former position, that, when debating the question, we were compelled to go behind the letter of the Constitution, and to seek its meaning in the history and practice of the nation under it -- a process always attended with disadvantages; and certainly we feel little inclination to shoulder disadvantages of any kind, in order to give slavery the slightest protection. In short, we hold it to be a system of lawless violence; that it never was lawful, and never can be made so; and that it is the first duty of every American citizen, whose conscience permits so to do, to use his political as well as his moral power for its overthrow. Of course, this avowal did not pass without animadversion, and it would have been strange if it had passed without some crimination; for it is hard for any combination or party to attribute good motives to any one who differs from them in what they deem a vital point. Brother Garrison at once exclaimed, "There is roguery somewhere!" but we can easily forgive this hastily expressed imputation, falling, as it did, from the lips of one to whom we shall never cease to be grateful, and for whom we have cherished (and do now cherish) a veneration only inferior in degree to that which we owe to our conscience and to our God.

The North Star, May 15, 1851, reprinted in the Liberator, May 23, 1851

Letter to Gerrit Smith, Esqr.
[Douglass'] former associates greeted the union of The North Star and the Liberty Party Paper in June, 1851, with the cry that he had sold out his principles to gain financial support from Gerrit Smith and other political Abolitionists. Douglass hotly denied that this change had been sudden and unheralded or that he had been primarily influenced by his financial dependence upon Smith. He offered proof that he had gradually altered his attitude toward political action and had reached the conclusion that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document long before the question of uniting his paper with the Liberty Party Paper was broached. But neither his protests nor his evidence convinced his former associates. Samuel J. May voiced the sentiments of the Garrisonians when he wrote: "It would be a strange thing, indeed, if a mind so acute as that of Mr. D. could not find plausible reasons for the change he has made." 64 [II:54]

TO GERRIT SMITH, ESQR.

Rochester, May 21st, 1851

My Dear Sir:

It needs no ghost to assure me, that I am to be made for a time, an object of special attack. I am not afraid of it and am not pained in view of it. I know too


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well the temper of very old companions to hope to escape the penalty which all others have paid who have ventured to differ from them. The leaders in the American Anti-slavery Society are strong men, noble champions in the cause of human freedom, and yet they are not after all the most charitable in construing the motives of those who see matters in a different light from themselves. Insinuations have already been thrown out and will be again.

There are two ways of treating assaults from that quarter and that character. They can be replied to or be allowed to spend their force unanswered. Judgment is needed here. A word of advice from you will at any time be most welcome. You will do me the kindness and the cause of truth and freedom the service, of giving a little attention to any controversy which may arise between my old friends and me, in regard to my present position on the Constitutional question. That my ground is correct I am satisfied, and can easily, I think, defend it against the strongest. But I am persuaded that the war will be waged, not against opinions but motives, especially if the union of papers which we contemplate shall go into effect. 65 If in this, time shall prove me correct, I shall need a word from you which I am sure you will generously give. You can prove that even in the North Star more than two years ago, I gave up the ground that the Constitution, when strictly construed, is a pro-slavery document, and that the only points which prevented me from declaring at that time in favor of voting and against the disunion ground related to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution. I had not made up my mind then, as I have now, that I am only in reason and in conscience bound to learn the intentions of those who framed the Constitution in the Constitution itself.

You yourself do know that before I could have had the slightest hope of affecting the union of papers which we now contemplate, that I distinctly assured you of the change in my opinion which I have now publicly avowed. For months I have made no secret of my present opinion. I talked the matter over with S. S. Foster. I told him soon after leaving your house this spring that I no longer hewed to the no voting theory. I assured S. J. May of the same thing. The only reason which I had in not publicly avowing before the change in my mind, was a desire to do so in open court. I espoused the doctrine among my old companions. I wished to reject it in their presence. I write from the office or I am sure that my wife would unite with Miss Griffiths (who is industriously wielding her pen at another desk) in sending love to yourself and Dear Lady.

Yours most truly,

Frederick Douglass

Gerrit Smith Papers, Syracuse University


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The Free Negro's Place is in America
[As Douglass] began "wielding the Federal Constitution for the abolition of American Slavery," and decided to use both moral and political power, he... allied himself with the Liberty Party, associating himself with the Gerrit Smith wing of the organization. On May 15, 1851, he wrote that he knew "of no one principle of that party that I should oppose." The following autumn he attended the convention of the Liberty Party in Buffalo and was appointed to the National Committee and to the Committee on Nominations. And in the fall elections he assured anti-slavery voters that there was "no way in which the cause of the slave can be better promoted than by voting the Liberty Party ticket." 66 [II:74]

Speech delivered at National Convention of Liberty Party, Buffalo, New York, September 18, 1851

... It is my purpose to occupy but a few moments of the meeting on this subject, as I know you are anxious to hear our other friend (Mr. Scoble) from England. 67 In listening to the remarks of our friend from Jamaica, 68 I was struck with the similarity of the reasons given by him for the emigration of colored persons from his country, to those which are given, but with very different motives, by the agents of the American Colonization Society -- a society which ever has and, I hope, ever will receive the utter detestation of every colored man in the land. I know that our friend (Mr. A.) will find it difficult to appreciate the reasons which induce the free colored people of these states to insist upon remaining here. He sees us, a suffering people, hemmed in on every side by the malignant and bitter prejudice which excludes us from nearly every profitable employment in this country, and which, as he has well said, has had several of the states to legislate for our expulsion. In the extremity of our need, he comes to us in the spirit of benevolence, I believe, and holds out to us the prospect of a better country, the prospect of a home, where none shall molest or make us afraid. And he will think it strange that we do not accept of his benevolent proffer, and welcome him in his mission of mercy and good will towards us. And yet we must say that such a welcome cannot be given by the colored people of this country without stabbing their own cause to the vitals, without conceding a point which every black man should feel that he must die for rather than yield, and that is, that the prejudice and the mal-administration toward us in this country are invincible to truth, invincible to combined and virtuous effort for their overthrow. We must make no such concession. Sir, the slaveholders have long been anxious to get rid of the free colored persons of this country. They know that where we are left free, blacks though we are, thick skulled as they call us, we shall become intelligent,


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and, moreover, that as we become intelligent, in just that proportion shall we become an annoyance to them in their slaveholding. They are anxious therefore to get us out of the country. -- They know that a hundred thousand intelligent, upright, industrious and persevering black men in the northern states must command respect and sympathy, must encircle themselves with the regard of a large class of the virtue-loving, industry-loving people of the North, and that whatever sympathy, whatever respect they are able to command must have a reflex influence upon slavery. And, therefore, they say "out with them," let us get rid of them! For my part, I am not disposed to leave, and, I think, our friend must have been struck with the singular kind of applause at certain sayings of his, during the address -- an applause that seemed to come from the galleries, from the door, and from that part of the house that does not wish to be mixed up with the platform. Straws show which way the wind blows,. I fancied, too, that when our friend was portraying the blessings that would result from our removal from this land to Jamaica, that delightful visions were floating before the minds of those gentlemen in the distance. Now, sir, I want to say on behalf of any Negroes I have the honor to represent, that we have been with, and still are with you, and mean to be with you to the end. It may seem ungrateful, but there are some of us who are resolved that you shall not get rid of your colored relations. -- Why should we not stay with you? Have we not a right here? I know the cry is raised that we are out of our native land, that this land is the land of the white man; that Africa is the home of the Negro, and not America.

But how stands the matter? I believe that simultaneously with the landing of the Pilgrims, there landed slaves on the shores of this continent, and that for two hundred and thirty years and more we have had a foothold on this continent. We have grown up with you; we have watered your soil with our tears; nourished it with our blood, tilled it with our hard hands. Why should we not stay here? We came when it was a wilderness, and were the pioneers of civilization on this continent. We levelled your forests; our hands removed the stumps from your fields, and raised the first crops and brought the first produce to your tables. We have been with you, are still with you, have been with you in adversity, and by the help of God will be with you in prosperity.

There was a time when certain learned men of this country undertook to argue us out of existence. Professor Grant of New York reckoned us of a race belonging to a by-gone age, which, in the progress of the human family, would become perfectly extinct. Yet we do not die. It does seem that there is a Providence in this matter. -- Chain us, lash us, hunt us with bloodhounds, surround us with utter insecurity, render our lives never so hard to be borne, and yet we do live on -- smile under it all and are able to smile. Amid all our afflictions there is an invincible determination to stay right here, because a large portion of the American people desire to get rid of us. In proportion to the strength of their desire to have us go, in just that proportion is the strength of our determination to stay, and in staying we ask nothing but justice. We have fought for this country, and we only ask to be treated as well as those who fought against it. We are American citizens, and we only ask to be treated as well as you treat aliens. And you will treat us so yet. Most men assume that we cannot make progress here.


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It is untrue, sir. That we can make progress in the future is proved by the progress we have already made. Our condition is rapidly improving. Sir, but a few years ago, if I attempted to ride on the railroad cars in New England, and presumed to take my seat in the cars with white persons, I was dragged out like a beast. I have often been beaten until my hands were blue with the blows in order to make me disengage those hands from the bench on which I was seated. -- On every railroad in New England this was the case. How is it now? Why, a Negro may ride just where he pleases and there is not the slightest objection raised, and I have very frequently rode over those same roads since, and never received the slightest indignity on account of my complexion. Indeed the white people are becoming more and more disposed to associate with the blacks. I am constantly annoyed by these pressing attentions. I used to enjoy the privilege of an entire seat, and riding a great deal at night, it was quite an advantage to me, but sometime ago, riding up from Geneva, I had curled myself up, and by the time I had got into a good snooze, along came a man and lifted up my blanket. I looked up and said, "pray do not disturb me, I am a black man." "I don't care who the devil you are, only give me a seat," was the reply. I told you the white people about here are beginning "to don't care who the devil you are." If you can put a dollar in their way, or a seat under them, they don't care "who the devil you are." But I will not detain you longer. I know you are anxious to hear our friend from England.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, October 2, 1851

Freedom's Battle at Christiana
In September, 1851, Douglass came to the assistance of three fugitive Negroes who had fought back against the slave-catchers. The leader of the group, William Parker, a free Negro in Sadsbury, Pennsylvania, had sheltered a fugitive slave. The slaveowner, one Gorsuch, together with United States marshals, arrived in Sadsbury to claim the fugitive. Warned by the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee the people of Sadsbury were prepared.

When Gorsuch demanded the fugitive, he was refused. His home attacked, Parker sounded a horn and up sprang a large body of Negroes armed with clubs, axes, and guns. A battle ensued, the slave catchers were routed, several were wounded, and Gorsuch himself was killed.

Parker and two fugitives fled, and, after an exciting journey on the Underground, arrived in Rochester. Douglass, aware that the authorities were hot on their trail, took them into his home and gave them shelter. 69 While the men remained in hiding, Julia Griffiths


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drove to the boat landing on the Genesee River and made arrangements for their shipment to Canada. When the fugitives boarded the boat, Parker handed Douglass the gun with which he had killed Gorsuch. 70

"I could not look upon them as murderers," Douglass wrote years later, "to me they were heroic defenders of the just rights of men against men-stealers and murderers." 71 [II:44 -- 45]

FREEDOM'S BATTLE AT CHRISTIANA

The fight at Christiana between the slavecatchers and the alleged fugitive slaves, continues to excite general discussion. The sensation produced by the death of the kidnappers is not surpassed by that which occurred throughout the country on hearing of the fate of the Cuban invaders. 72 The failure of these two patriotic expeditions, undertaken so nobly by our law-abiding citizens, must long be regarded as among the most memorable events of this eventful year.

Everybody seems astonished, that in this land of gospel light and liberty, after all the sermons of the Lords, Lathrops, Spencers, Coxes, Springs, Deweys, Sharpes, Tyngs, 73 and a host of other Doctors of Divinity, there should be found men so firmly attached to liberty and so bitterly averse to slavery, as to be willing to peril even life itself to gain the one and to avoid the other. Pro-slavery men especially are in a state of amazement at the strange affair. That the hunted men should fight with the biped bloodhounds that had tracked them, even when the animals had a "paper" authorizing them to hunt, is to them inexplicable audacity. "This not that the Negroes fought the kidnappers (no, let no one misrepresent) that we are astonished, but that they should fight them and kill them when they knew they had `papers'." That they should kill the men-hunters is, perhaps, natural, and may be explained in the light of the generally admitted principle "that self-preservation is the first law of nature," but, the rascals! they killed their pursuers, when they knew they had "papers!" Just here is the point of difficulty. What could have got into these men of sable coating? Didn't they know that slavery, not freedom, is their natural condition? Didn't they know that their legs, arms, eyes, hands and heads, were the rightful property of the white men who claimed them?

Can we in charity suppose these Negroes to have been ignorant of the fact that our "own dear Fillmore" (than whom there is none higher -- not according to northern Whiggery, not even in the heavens above nor in the earth beneath) did, on the eighteenth day of September, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty of the Christian era and in the seventy-fifth year of the freedom and independence of the American people from the bondage of a foreign yoke, approve and send forth a decree, (with all the solemn authority of his great name.) ordaining that thereafter Men Should Cease to be Men! 74 -- Oh! ye most naughty and rebellious fellows! Why stand ye up like men, after this mighty decree? Why have not your hands become paws, and your arms, legs? Why are you not down among four-footed beasts with the fox, the wolf and the bear, sharing with them the chances of the chase, but constituting the most choice game -- the peculiar game of this free and Christian country? We say again that here is the point of difficulty which demands explanation. For you see, friends and brethren, if the story gets afloat that these Negroes of Christiana did really hear the words of the


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mighty Fillmore commanding them to be brutes instead of men, and they did not change as ordered, why, the dangerous doctrine will also get afloat presently that there is a law higher than the law of Fillmore. If his voice cannot change the nature of things, it is certain that there is a power above him, and that that frightful heresy, (which has been so justly condemned by the most learned clergy,) called the "Higher Law," 75 will be received, the evil consequences of which, even the great Daniel cannot portray.

We have said that the pro-slavery people of this country don't know what to make of this demonstration on the part of the alleged fugitive slaves of Christiana. This, however, is possibly a mistake. There is in that translation a lesson which the most obtuse may understand, namely, that all Negroes are not such fools and dastards as to cling to life when it is coupled with chains and slavery.

This lesson, though most dearly bought is quite worth the price paid. It was needed. The lamb-like submission with which men of color have allowed themselves to be dragged away from liberty, from family and all that is dear to the hearts of man, had well nigh established the impression that they were conscious of their own fitness for slavery. The frequency of arrests and the ease with which they were made quickened the rapacity, and invited these aggressions of slave-catchers. The Christiana conflict was therefore needed to check these aggressions and to bring the hunters of men to the sober second thought. But was it right for the colored men to resist their enslavers? We answer, Yes, or the whole structure of the world's theory of right and wrong is a lie. -- If it be right for any man to resist those who would enslave them, it was right for the men of color at Christiana to resist. If an appeal to arms may ever be innocently made, the appeal in this instance was innocently made; and if it were wrong in them to fight, it can never be right in any case to fight. -- For never were there, never can there be more sacred rights to defend than were menaced on this occasion. Life and liberty are the most sacred of all man's rights. If these may be invaded with impunity, all others may be for they comprehend all others. But we take still higher ground. It was right in the light of absolute justice, which says to the aggressor, he that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity, and he that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword. The man who rushes out of the orbit of his own rights, to strike down the rights of another, does, by that act, divest himself of the right to live; if he be shot down, his punishment is just.

Now what are the facts in the case, for these have been most scandalously misrepresented by the newspapers? The slaveholder's side of the story has been told, but the other side has been dumb, for colored men cannot write. Could they speak for themselves, we dare be sworn that they would testify substantially as follows: Early in the evening of September tenth, a colored man, a fugitive slave, went to the house of Wm. Parker, a sober, well-behaved, and religious man of color, 76 and said to him, William, there is a warrant out for the arrest of some of us, and it is said the kidnappers will be up to-night from Philadelphia. What had we better do? The answer to this was worthy of the man. Come to my house said Parker. Accordingly, five men of color, all told, spent the night at William's house. They sat up late in the apprehension of an attack, but finally went to bed, but sleep -- they could not. About two hours before day-light, one of the colored men went


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into the yard, and on raising his eyes, saw, at that unseasonable hour, fifteen men, coming stealthily along the lane. He ran into the house, and told the inmates that the slave-catchers had come, and the truth of his story was soon confirmed, for a minute elapsed before the whole fifteen were in Parker's yard. The man who went into the yard, did not fasten the door securely, and it was therefore easily forced. The slaveholders rushed into the lower part of the house, and called upon the occupants to give themselves up. Here commenced the conflict. The kidnappers undertook to force their way upstairs, but were met, and compelled to retreat. A parley ensued. Gorsuch was spokesman for himself and his kidnapping comrades, and Parker for himself and guests. Gorsuch said, you have got my property in your house. I have not, said Parker; there is no property here but what belongs to me. I own every trunk, and chair and article of furniture about this house, and none but robbers and murderers would make any attack upon me at this hour of the night. You have got my men in your house, said Gorsuch, and I will have them, or go to hell in the attempt to get them. Parker said I have got none of your men, I never owned a man in my life. I believe it to be a sin to own men; I am no slave-owner. Gorsuch here interrupted Parker, saying, I don't want to hear your abolition lecture. After a long parley, during which Parker repeatedly advised the slave-catchers to go away, stating that he did not wish to hurt them, although they had fired into his house fifteen times, shooting once through his hat crown, the five colored men came downstairs, and walked in front of the slave-catchers, and both parties were now arrayed face to face. Parker then rook the old man, Gorsuch, by the arm, and said to him, old man, we don't want to harm you. You profess to be a Christian; you are a Methodist class-leader, and you ought to be ashamed to be in such business. At this point, young Gorsuch, "father, do you allow a `n -- r' to talk so to you? why don't you shoot him, father?" Parker than answered: "Young man, I would say to you, just what I have said to your father, you had better go about your business." Young Gorsuch then fired at Parker, but missed him, and he, Gorsuch, was instantly shot down. -- There was now general shooting, and striking with clubs, during which the elder Gorsuch was killed, his son shot through the lungs, and his nephew dangerously wounded. We must not omit to state that the first man to take the advice of the colored preacher, (as Parker is called,) was the Marshal from Philadelphia. He topped his boom before the heat of the battle came on, undoubtedly feeling that he had barked up the wrong tree, and that it was best for him to make tracks! The time occupied in parleying between the two parties, was full two hours.

The colored men who are alleged to have taken part in the conflict at Christiana, are to be tried, we are informed, for high treason. This is to cap the climax of American absurdity, to say nothing of American infamy. Our government has virtually made every colored man in the land an outlaw, one who may be hunted by any villain who may think proper to do so, and if the hunted man, finding himself stript of all legal protection, shall lift his arm in his own defense, why, forsooth, he is arrested, arraigned, and tried for high treason, and if found guilty, he must suffer death!

The basis of allegiance is protection. We owe allegiance to the government that protects us, but to the government that destroys us, we owe no allegiance.


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The only law which the alleged slave has a right to know anything about, is the law of nature. This is his only law. The enactments of this government do not recognize him as a citizen, but as a thing. In the light of the law, a slave can no more commit treason than a horse or an ox can commit treason. A horse kicks out the brains of his master. Do you try the horse for treason? Then why the slave who does the same thing? You answer, because the slave is a man, and he is therefore responsible for his acts. The answer is sound. The slave is a man and ought not to be treated like a horse, but like a man, and his manhood is his justification for shooting down any creature who shall attempt to reduce him to the condition of a brute.

But there is one consolation after all about this arraignment for treason. It admits our manhood. Sir Walter Scott says that treason is the crime of a gentleman. We shall watch this trial in Philadelphia, and shall report the result when it transpires. Meanwhile, we think that fugitives may sleep more soundly than formerly.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, September 25, 1851


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On Being Considered for the Legislature
At the Whig Convention in Rochester in October, 1851, the Free Soil delegates proposed Douglass as representative for the Second Assembly District in the State Legislature and secured twenty-two votes on the first ballot for their candidate. The convention finally nominated another candidate, but the press generally admitted that if the "Free Soilers had been in a majority," Douglass would have secured the nomination. 77 Douglass, however, rebuffed all overtures from the Free Soilers. [II:74]

To F. Gorton, B. E. Hecock, N. H. Gardner, James Abrams, of American office, Joseph Putnam, S. F. Witherspoon, William Breck, United States Deputy Collector, G. S. Jennings, James H. Delly, John C. Stevens, L. R. Jerome, United States Deputy and of American office, Sulivan Gray, Edward French, William Thorn, Justin Day, Jr., E. R. Warren, John Cornwall, Rev. Charles G. Lee, formerly preacher in Syracuse, M. H. Jennings, Jared Coleman, United States Deputy Collector.

Gentlemen: I have learned with some surprise, that in the Whig Convention held in this city on Saturday last, you signified, by your votes, a desire to make me your representative in the Legislature of this State. Never having, at any time that I can recollect, thought, spoken, or acted, in any way, to commit myself to either the principles or the policy of the Whig party, but on the contrary, having always held, and publicly expressed opinions diametrically opposed to those held by that part of the Whig party which you are supposed to represent, your voting for me, I am bound in courtesy to suppose, is founded in a misapprehension of my political sentiments.

Lest you should, at any other time, commit a similar blunder, I beg to state, once for all, that I do not believe that the slavery question is settled, and settled forever. I do not believe that slave-catching is either a Christian duty, or an innocent amusement. I do not believe that he who breaks the arm of the kidnapper, or wrests the trembling captive from his grasp is a "traitor." I do not believe that human enactments are to be obeyed when they are point blank against the laws of the living God. And believing most fully, (as I do,) the reverse of all this, you will easily believe me to be a person wholly unfit to receive the suffrages of gentlemen holding the opinion and favoring the policy of that wing of the Whig party, denominated "the Silver Grays."

With all the respect which your derision permits me to entertain for you,

I am gentlemen,

Your faithful fellow-citizen,

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass' Paper, October 30, 1851; reprinted in the New York Times, November 6, 1851


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Extract from a Speech at Providence, Nov. 6. Phonographic Report by J. L. Crosby.
God, the foundation and source of all goodness, must be loved in order that we may love our fellow-man. In order to produce and cultivare this love, abolitionists should pray, abolitionists should meditate, abolitionists should make it a matter of thought, of deep thought; they should make it so when they come before the people, and that God who seeth in secret will reward them openly. This may seem rather ministerial, than after the fashion of an anti-slavery speech; but I am not sure that we have not, in our utter detestation of the sub-serviency of the ministry and of the church, cast aside something which we might justly highly prize. I know I have. I know that a few years ago, when engaged more especially in exposing the pro-slavery character of the American Church and clergy (and, as I now believe, justly) still, in coupling together all manner of churches and ministers, I have no doubt that I destroyed in myself that very reverence for God and for religion which is necessary to give vital power to my anti-slavery efforts; and hence I am led to make confession of having erred -- greatly erred. I believe that others will make the same confession before long -- that they have to some extent undermined that principle in the human mind which is essential for carrying forward a great and holy cause, namely reverence.

Now I believe, it is good for us to meditate on this question, and to take the slave with us in our meditations, to take the slave with us everywhere, to take the slave into our thoughts when we go before God; and if we do this, we shall not be wanting in words to say on this subject.

We believe that there never was a time when we had more strong and powerful reasons for being active in the cause than now. The time was when abolitionists could gather themselves together, when they spoke and prayed, and sang and had a good meeting, and returned to their homes with none to molest them or make them afraid; but at this time we are all prostrate under the arm of the Slave Power to an extent which we never were before and this consideration if no other, should induce greater activity on our part, greater earnestness, greater determination to wage war upon this inhuman slave system, of which the Fugitive Slave Law is but a branch, a shoot, a leaf. This, I say, should prompt us to more energetic exertion in behalf of the slave.

I have been, for the past year under a cloud. I have never been so hopeful of the American people on this subject as many of my friends. I never believed, for instance, that slavery would be limited by any action of the last Congress. I never


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believed that the Fugitive Slave Law would not be enacted and if enacted that it would not be enforced. I believed that the Slave Power would be extended. I believed that the Fugitive Slave Law would be enacted, and, if enacted the nation would be ready to execute it. It has been enacted and it has been executed.

Scarcely a week passes, but some poor fugitive is hunted down in the streets of some of our large cities. In Philadelphia, week after week, instances of this kind are occurring; men and women hunted down in the streets of brotherly love! Men and women hunted down, chained and fettered under the very steeples, and in the shadow of the very churches of our land or dragged through the streets with none to pity, none to succor them, none to help them, Man after man is dragged and chained and fettered into hopeless bondage -- hopeless, unending bondage, so far as bondage in this life can be unending. Facts like these are occurring over our land and if there are souls within us, we cannot be indifferent at such a time as this.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, December 11, 1851

Hon. Horace Greeley and the People of Color
There is not, perhaps, a single public man in all the United States, unconnected with the Anti-Slavery movement, who has, at any time, evinced a more generous and manly spirit towards the Free People of color, nor indicated the entertainment of a more genuine desire for their welfare and happiness than Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune. He has often defended our people from the brutal attacks of the press, far more effectively than ever our technical friends could do; for while they speak to tens, Greeley speaks to thousands. Regarding us in the light of a misunderstood, under-estimated, and oppressed people, struggling against immense odds, to be men and citizens, he has, at times extended to us a helping hand, almost fraternal. Did a colored man rise up among his brethren, and by industry, perseverance and talents, make himself master of a position among men of high moral and intellectual worth, Mr. Greeley was among the first of all American Editors to recognize and to proclaim the fact with apparent satisfaction. There is not a colored public man in the United States who has signalized himself, either by his devotion to liberty, or by his ability, who is not, to some extent, indebted to Mr. Greeley for a friendly word of encouragement. Even within the last two years, he has poured such a torrent of denunciation upon the slave system; attacked with such boldness the slave power; portrayed with such faithfulness, the disgraceful and shocking slave hunts; despised with such hearty good will, the demagoguism of Webster and Fillmore; as displayed in their pretended alarm for the safety of the Union; battled so earnestly against the new doctrine of treason as almost to win for himself the unpopular yet enviable title of being the Negro's friend. What black man did not feel grateful to the Tribune, a few months ago, for the gallant manner in which it exposed the frauds


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and falsehoods practiced upon this nation in respect to the true character of Haiti? Who among us did not feel a thrill of gratitude when he read, in September last, the defense of the heroic colored men at Christiana? Why, every one of us. But while we do not forget all this, we must nevertheless, recognize Mr. Greeley as being among the most effective and dangerous of our foes. We say this more in sadness than in bitterness of spirit. We may misapprehend his motives: they are between himself and the Searcher of all hearts; yet we repeat, that by his present position he is, practically, among our deadliest enemies. He is the advocate of Colonization, which, to us, means ultimate extermination; and in this advocacy, Henry Clay himself, whose olfactory nerves are disturbed by the most distant allusion to "Free people of color," does not assume a more haughty, imperious, and overbearing spirit towards us than this same Horace Greeley. In urging our departure from our native land to Africa, this gentleman appeals more to our fears than to our hopes. He paints our ignorance, degradation and wretchedness in the darkest colors and warns us that worse, not better, days await us in this country. He points us to the inhuman, barbarous, and unconstitutional legislation of Indiana, 78 and without pouring forth a true man's abhorrence of such legislation, he complacently asks us what such legislation means; and intimates that this is but the beginning of the "Reign of Terror." He does not call upon the people of Indiana to wipe out its disgraceful Statute; but he calls upon the free people of color to take the hint from such legislation, and clear out to Africa. He has even become so averse to our remaining here of late, as to frown upon all efforts of ours to obtain our civil and political rights. He held up the Committee who signed the call for the "Colored State Convention," to the ridicule of his readers last week, for proposing such a convention, and stated that he had always advised Negroes to refrain from agitating for the right of suffrage. If his advice were taken, he would probably point to our inertness as an evidence of our unfitness for the exercise of that right. A queer and incomprehensible man is Mr. Greeley. For the poverty and misery of the poor white man in this country, his mind is fruitful of remedies. "Working men's union," "Co-operative associations" have his hearty concurrence and advocacy. At their conventions and congresses, he is prophet, priest, and philosopher -- soothing their poverty by his sympathy, increasing their courage by his counsel, and stimulating them to exertion by the fruits of his own example. But for the poor black man, he has neither sympathy, prophecy, nor plan. His advice to us may be stated in two words, and is such as is commonly addressed to dogs -- "Be gone."

Mr. Greeley is called a benevolent man; and, as such, we ask him, how he reconciles his course towards the Free Colored People with the spirit of benevolence? Does he not know that the certain effect of urging them to depart, and alarming them with the idea that it is impossible for them to remain here, is to damp their aspirations, to fill them with doubt, and to paralyze their energies for improvement and elevation? To us, this circumstance constitutes one of the strongest objections to the Colonization discussion. -- Slaveholders will not emigrate with their slaves to New Mexico, while there are doubt and uncertainity of their ability to hold them when they get there; and colored people will not exert themselves to acquire property, and settle down as good citizens of the State,


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while they are alarmed and terrified by the prospect of being (ultimately) driven out of the country. This truth is well known by our oppressors; and it is, doubtless, one motive for the constant agitation of the Colonization scheme.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, January 29, 1852

Horace Greeley and Colonization
Frederick Douglass' Paper is requested to take notice that the Tribune is quite as willing that the blacks should colonize in this country as out of it. Our opinion is that the work of civilizing and Christianizing Africa is one which especially commends itself to the civilized and Christianized blacks of this country; but we would like to see them buy out a township in Southern Jersey, or a county in Nebraska for a beginning, and see what work they would make of colonizing that. What we mean to make them do, even at the expense of incurring their deadliest hatred, is to stop currying horses, blacking boots and opening oysters for a living and go to plowing, hoeing and harvesting their own fields, where the world can see what they do and who does it. Hitherto the great mass of them have acted as if their race were made for servitude and unfit for anything else. -- We don't believe that, but they act as if they did, and we mean to make them act differently if we can. -- Tribune.

We are glad to know that the Tribune is "willing" that the blacks should colonize in this country; for, however indifferent such willingness may seem, when viewed from the stand-point of right and justice, it is magnified into a shining virtue, when compared with the cruel and bitter spirit which would drive every freeman of color off this continent. But we differ from the Tribune, even in its more innocent notion of colonization. We say to every colored man, be a man where you are; neither a "township in Southern Jersey," nor a "county in Nebraska," can serve you. You must be a man here, and force your way to intelligence, wealth and respectability. If you can't do that here, you can't do it there. By changing your place, you don't change your character. We believe that contact with the white race, even under the many unjust and painful restrictions to which we are subjected, does more toward our elevation and improvement, than the mere circumstance of being separated from them could do. The truth is


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sometimes acknowledged by Colonizationists themselves. They argue (for a diabolical purpose it is true) that the condition of our race has been improved by their situation as slaves, since it has brought them into contact with a superior people, and afforded them facilities for acquiring knowledge. This position is sound, though the hearts that gave it birth, are rotten. We hold, that while there is personal liberty in the Northern States for the colored people, while they have the privilege to educate their children, to speak and write out their sentiments, to petition, and in some instances, and with some qualifications, to exercise the right of suffrage, the time has not come for them to emigrate from these States to any other country, and last of all, to the wilds of Africa. The Tribune need not, we think, apprehend the "deadliest hatred" of the colored people, by urging them to "stop currying horses, blacking boots, and opening oysters for a living." Numbers of them are taking this advice, and urging it upon others. Be patient, Mr. Greeley, a nation may not be born in a day, without a miracle.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, February 26, 1852

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro
It was in [Rochester's] Corinthian Hall... that Douglass delivered [this] famous address ... commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In bitter, eloquent prose, he told his audience that had he the ability and could he reach the nation's ear he would "pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke"; for it was not light that was needed but fire. He asked his listeners if they had meant to mock him when they invited him to speak on such an occasion; to him the fourth of July was not a day for rejoicing, but for mourning. Then followed what is probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass' speeches: [that which begins,] "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?" [II:39]

Speech at Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens:

He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country school houses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.

The papers and placards say that I am to deliver a Fourth of July Oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for me. It is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who


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now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall seems to free me from embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable -- and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence, I will proceed to lay them before you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot's heart might be sadder, and the reformer's brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young. -- Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and in-undate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is, that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your "sovereign people" (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown. Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a


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considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper.

But your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would certainly prove nothing as to what part I might have taken had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when, to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men's souls. They who did so were accounted in their day plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers. But, to proceed.

Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated, by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back.

As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed by the storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger as it breasted the chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and best of British statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest eloquence of the British Senate came to its support. But, with that blindness which seems to be the unvarying characteristic of tyrants, since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, the British Government persisted in the exactions complained of.

The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by England; but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present rulers.

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it.


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Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians.

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it.

On the 2d of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the dismay of the lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed that dreadful idea with all the authority of national sanction. They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day, whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it.

"Resolved, That these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved."

Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded; and to-day you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is yours; and you, therefore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation's history -- the very ringbolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny.

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day -- cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight.

The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. But, besides general considerations, there were peculiar circumstances which make the advent of this republic an event of special attractiveness.

The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime. The population of the country, at the time, stood at the insignificant number of three millions. The country was poor in the munitions of war. The population was weak and scattered, and the country a wilderness unsubdued. There were then


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no means of concert and combination, such as exist now. Neither steam nor lightning had then been reduced to order and discipline. From the Potomac to the Delaware was a journey of many days. Under these, and innumerable other disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and independence and triumphed.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too -- great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final"; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defence. Mark them!

Fully appreciating the hardships to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while the


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quick martial tramp of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one of thrilling and universal interest -- a nation's jubilee.

Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes which led to this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I do. You could instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of knowledge in which you feel, perhaps, a much deeper interest than your speaker. The causes which led to the separation of the colonies from the British crown have never lacked for a tongue. They have all been taught in your common schools, narrated at your firesides, unfolded from your pulpits, and thundered from your legislative halls, and are as familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of your national poetry and eloquence.

I remember, also, that, as a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed by some as a national trait -- perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact, that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans. I shall not be charged with slandering Americans if I say I think the American side of any question may be safely left in American hands.

I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other gentlemen whose claim to have been regularly descended will be less likely to be disputed than mine!

My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and His cause is the ever-living now.


Trust no future, however pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead;
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within, and God overhead.

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child's share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have "Abraham to our father," when they had long lost Abraham's faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham's great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchers of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and

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souls of men shout -- "We have Washington to our father." -- Alas! that it should be so; yet so it is.


The evil that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowl edge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. -- The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not


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faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery -- the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; 79 I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building


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ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. -- There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers


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and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Take the American slave-trade, which we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) "the internal slave-trade." It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words from the high places of the nation as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish themselves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon all those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass without condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-curdling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that


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girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the centre of your soul! The crack you heard was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell's Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming "hand-bills," headed cash for Negroes. These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number has been collected here, a ship is chartered for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror.

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.


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Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women and children, as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the star-spangled banner, and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles, and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment's warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there is neither law nor justice, humanity nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world that in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America the seats of justice are filled with judges who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding the case of a man's liberty, to hear only his accusers!

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenceless, and in diabolical intent this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.

I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty,


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and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the "mint, anise, and cummin" -- abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal! -- And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to solicit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox to the beautiful, but treacherous, Queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country (with fractional exceptions) does not esteem "the Fugitive Slave Law" as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love, and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as "scribes, pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith."

But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines, who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion


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for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that "pure and undefiled religion" which is from above, and which is "first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation -- a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea! when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow."

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in its connection with its ability to abolish slavery.

The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that "There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it."

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday School, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery, and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds, and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared -- men honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The Lords of Buffalo, the Springs of New York, the Lathrops of Auburn, the Coxes and Spencers of Brooklyn, the Gannets and Sharps of Boston, the Deweys of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land have, in utter denial of the authority of Him by whom they professed to be called to the ministry, deliberately


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taught us, against the example of the Hebrews, and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, that we ought to obey man's law before the law of God. 80

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the "standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ," is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher, of Brooklyn; Samuel J. May, of Syracuse; and my esteemed friend (Rev. R. R. Raymond) on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that, upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave's redemption from his chains.

One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the American church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by the churches in England towards a similar movement in that country. There, the church, true to its mission of ameliorating, elevating and improving the condition of mankind, came forward promptly, bound up the wounds of the West Indian slave, and restored him to his liberty. There, the question of emancipation was a high religious question. It was demanded in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, the Burchells, and the Knibbs were alike famous for their piety and for their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an anti-church movement, for the reason that the church took its full share in prosecuting that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this country will cease to be an anti-church movement, when the church of this country shall assume a favorable instead of a hostile position towards that movement.

Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation -- a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy


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of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a three-penny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe "that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth," and hath commanded all men, everywhere, to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world to declare that you "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, "is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose," a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country.

Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation's bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!

But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that, the right to hold, and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.

Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped


To palter with us in a double sense:
And keep the word of promise to the ear,
But break it to the heart.

And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest impostors that ever practised on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape; but I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the


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constitutional question at length; nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq., by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerrit Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour.

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but interpreted, as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? it is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slaveholding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a tract of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, commonsense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality, or unconstitutionality of slavery, is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.

Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion.

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery.


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"The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. -- Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:


God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign,
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.
God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

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God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant's presence cower;
But to all manhood's stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his prison-house, to thrall
Go forth.
Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I'll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive --
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate'er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.

Oration delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, by Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852, Rochester, 1852

The Fugitive Slave Law
As [Douglass] marked the busy preparations of the Free Soilers for the national campaign and noted the enthusiasm evoked by this growing mass movement, he realized the futility of the isolationist policy he had been advocating. Recalling his original position that it was the duty of the Abolitionists to lead the Free Soilers, he wrote to Smith on July 15, 1852, that it was their political responsibility to attend the approaching Pittsburgh convention of the Free Soil Party. The gathering could be "made to occupy such a position as the `Liberty Party' may properly vote for its candidates." The masses who would be present in Pittsburgh were far ahead of their leaders, and were quite prepared to support a program in advance of "mere Free Soil." It remained for men like Smith to bring up the issues around which the delegates would rally. 81

On August 11, 1852, two thousand persons crowded into the Masonic Hall in Pittsburgh to attend the second national convention of the Free Soil Party. Douglass and Smith sat in the New York section. Soon after convening, Douglass was nominated as a secretary of the convention by Lewis Tappan, was elected by acclamation, and took his seat "amid loud applause." Barely had the next speaker started to address the delegates, when loud


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calls for Douglass drowned out his voice. Amid cheers Douglass moved to the platform. Taken by surprise, he had no prepared address. But he launched immediately into what reporters described as "an aggressive speech." 82 ...

The audience applauded Douglass throughout and cheered as he concluded with the advice that "numbers should not be looked to as much as right." As the afternoon session drew to a close, the delegates again called on Douglass to speak, but he declined with the brief statement that his throat was sore from his previous exertion.

The reception of Douglass at the Free Soil Convention aroused comment in Europe as well as in this country. In London The Anti-Slavery Reporter viewed it as one of the brightest signs of the time. "The appointment of Frederick Douglass as one of the secretaries of the convention," it observed, "is a cheering indication of the advance of anti-slavery sentiment in the United States. That a colored man should be called upon to act as an officer in a large political meeting is a sign of progress in that country, where to belong to the enslaved race has been to be proscribed and neglected." 83

Douglass informed his readers that he had been favorably impressed by the "spirit" displayed at the Free Soil Convention "no less than with its principles" and candidates. John P. Hale of New Hampshire was "a large-hearted philanthropist... a dreaded foe to slavery," and George W. Julian of Indiana was "one of the truest and most disinterested friends of freedom whom we have ever met." He urged the Liberty Party convention about to assemble at Canastota, New York, to endorse the Free Soil nominations. [II:75 -- 76]

Speech to the National Free Soil Convention at Pittsburgh, August 11, 1852

Gentlemen, I take it that you are in earnest, and mean all you say by this call, and therefore I will address you. I am taken by surprise, but I never withhold a word on such an occasion as this. The object of this Convention is to organize a party, not merely for the present, but a party identified with eternal principles and therefore permanent. I have come here, not so much of a free soiler as others have come. I am, of course, for circumscribing and damaging slavery in every way I can. But my motto is extermination -- not only in New Mexico, but in New Orleans -- not only in California but in South Carolina. No where has God ordained that this beautiful land shall be cursed with bondage by enslaving men. Slavery has no rightful existence anywhere. The slaveholders not only forfeit their right to liberty, but to life itself. -- [Applause.] The earth is God's, and it ought to be covered with righteousness, and not slavery. We expect this great National Convention to lay down some such principle as this. What we want is not a temporary organization, for a temporary want, but a firm, fixed, immovable, liberty party. Had the old liberty party continued true to its principles, we never should have seen such a hell born enactment as the Fugitive Slave Law.

In making your Platform, nothing is to be gained by a timid policy. The more closely we adhere to principle, the more certainly will we command respect. Both National Conventions acted in open contempt of the antislavery sentiment of the North, by incorporating, as the corner stone of their two platforms, the infamous law to which I have alluded -- a law which, I think, will never be repealed -- it is too bad to be repealed -- a law fit only to trampled under foot, (suiting the action to the word). The only way to make the Fugitive Slave Law a dead letter is to make half a dozen or more dead kidnappers. [Laughter and applause.] A half


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dozen more dead kidnappers carried down South would cool the ardor of Southern gentlemen, and keep their rapacity in check. That is perfectly right as long as the colored man has no protection. The colored men's rights are less than those of a jackass. No man can take away a jackass without submitting the matter to twelve men in any part of this country. A black man may be carried away without any reference to a jury. It is only necessary to claim him, and that some villain should swear to his identity. There is more protection there for a horse, for a donkey, or anything, rather than a colored man -- who is, therefore, justified in the eye of God, in maintaining his right with his arm.

A Voice. -- Some of us do not believe that doctrine.

Douglass. -- The man who takes the office of a bloodhound ought to be treated as a bloodhound; and I believe that the lines of eternal justice are sometimes so obliterated by a course of long continued oppression that it is necessary to revive them by deepening their traces with the blood of a tyrant. [Much applause.] This Fugitive Slave Law had the support of the Lords, and the Coxes, the Tyngs, the Sharps and the flats. [Laughter.] It is nevertheless a degradation and a scandalous outrage on religious liberty; and if the American people were not sunk into degradation too deep for one possessing so little eloquence as I do to describe, they would feel it, too. This vile, infernal law does not interfere with singing of psalms, or anything of that kind, but with the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. It makes it criminal for you, sir, to carry out the principles of Christianity. It forbids you the right to do right -- forbids you to show mercy -- forbids you to follow the example of the good Samaritan.

Had this law forbidden any of the rites of religion, it would have been a very different thing. Had it been a law to strike at baptism, for instance, it would have been denounced from a 1000 pulpits, and woe to the politician who did not come to the rescue. -- But, I am spending my strength for nought; what care we for religious liberty? what are we -- an unprincipled set of knaves. [Laughter.] You feel it to be so. Not a man of you that looks a fellow Democrat or Whig in the face, but knows it. But it has been said that this law is constitutional -- if it were, it would be equally the legitimate sphere of government to repeal it. I am proud to be one of the disciples of Gerrit Smith, and this is his doctrine; and he only utters what all law writers have said who have risen to any eminence. Human government is for the protection of rights; and when human government destroys human rights, it ceases to be a government, and becomes a foul and blasting conspiracy; and is entitled to no respect whatever.

It has been said that our fathers entered into a covenant for this slavecatching. Who were your daddies? [Laughter.] I take it they were men, and so are you. You are the sons of your fathers; and if you find your fathers exercising any rights that you don't find among your rights, you may be sure that they have transcended their limits. If they have made a covenant that you should do that which they have no right to do themselves, they transcended their own authority, and surely it is not binding on you. If you look over the list of your rights, you do not find among them any right to make a slave of your brother. [Many cries of "no, no, no -- and so say we, all of us."]

Well, you have just as good a right to do so as your fathers had. It is a fundamental truth that every man is the rightful owner of his own body. If you have


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no right to the possession of another man's body your fathers had no such right. But suppose that they have written in a constitution that they have a right, you and I have no right to conform to it. Suppose you and I had made a deed to give away two or three acres of blue sky; would the sky fall -- and would anybody be able to plough it? You will say that this is an absurdity, and so it is. The binding quality of law, is its reasonableness. I am safe, therefore, in saying, that slavery cannot be legalized at all. I hope, therefore, that you will take the ground that this slavery is a system, not only of wrong, but is of a lawless character, and cannot be christianized nor legalized. [Applause.]

Can you hear me in that end of the hall now? [Laughter and applause.] I trust that this Convention will be the means of laying before the country the principles of the Liberty Party which I have the honor to represent, to some extent, on this floor. Slavery is such a piracy that it is known neither to law nor gospel -- it is neither human nor divine -- a monstrosity that cannot be legalized. If they took this ground it would be the handwriting on the wall to the Belshazzars of the South. It would strip the crime of its legality, and all the forms of law would shrink back with horror from it. As I have always an object when speaking on such subjects as this, I wish you to supply yourselves with Gerrit Smith's pamphlet on civil government, which I now hold in my hand. I thought you doubted the impossibility of legalizing slavery. [Cries of no.]

Could a law be made to pass away any of your individual rights? No. And so neither can a law be made to pass away the right of the black man. This is more important than most of you seem to think. You are about to have a party, but I hope not such a party as will gather up the votes, here and there, to be swallowed up at a meal by the great parties. I think I know what some leading men are now thinking. We hear a great deal of the independent, free democracy -- at one time independent and another time dependent -- but I want always to be independent, and not hurried to and fro into the ranks of Whigs or Democrats. It has been said that we ought to take the position to gain the greatest number of voters, but that is wrong.

We have had enough of that folly. It was said in 1848 that Martin Van Buren would carry a strong vote in New York; he did so but he almost ruined us. He merely looked at us as into the pigpen to see how the animal grew; but the table was the final prospect in view; he regarded the Free Soil party as a fatling to be devoured. [Great laughter.] Numbers should not be looked to so much as right. The man who is right is a majority. He who has God and conscience on his side, has a majority against the universe. Though he does not represent the present state, he represents the future state. If he does not represent what we are, he represents what we ought to be. In conclusion, this party ought to extend a hand to the noble, selfsacrificing patriot -- glorious Kossuth. But I am a voting delegate, and must now go to the convention. You will excuse me for breaking off so abruptly.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, August, 1852


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Letter to Gerrit Smith, Esqr.
[Douglass'] main concern in the autumn of 1852 was in the campaign for representative from the twenty-second Congressional district of New York. His friend and mentor, Gerrit Smith, had been nominated for the office by the Liberty or Free Democrat's Party. Douglass campaigned through the state even though he doubted that Smith, being "too far in advance of the people and of the age," could possibly be elected. He could not believe his ears when people said they were "going to vote for Gerrit Smith" and expressed confidence in Smith's election. "This however, I deem unreasonable," he wrote to Smith from Chittenango Falls on October 21. "How could such a thing be? Oh! if it could only be so, the cup of my joy would be full. It is too good to be true. Yet I am the only man whom I have heard speak disparagingly in private about the matter." 84

The Free Soil vote of 1852 was about one-half of what it had been in 1848, but Douglass' disappointment was speedily forgotten with the announcement of the election of Gerrit Smith to Congress by an overwhelming majority. The "grand event," which even Garrison admitted was "among the most extraordinary political events of this most extraordinary age," completely filled his "cup of joy." "The election of Gerrit Smith -- what an era!" he exulted.... As his excitement mounted, he predicted that "with men and money," the Liberty Party could carry New York state "for freedom" in 1856. 85

Douglass placed great hope in Smith's congressional career. On August 18, 1853, four months before the session convened, he wrote to his co-reformer advising him to master the parliamentary rules of Congress so as "to defy all the mantraps which they will surely set for your feet." Unfortunately Smith did not remain in Washington long enough to put this sound advice to much use. After joining in the attack on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, introduced into Congress early in 1854, and leading the movement to strike out the word "white" from the bill granting land to actual settlers in New Mexico, he decided he had had enough of life in the nation's capital and returned to Peterboro. On August 7, 1854, Smith resigned his seat in Congress. The only explanation he gave was the "pressure of my far too extensive business." 86 [II:77]

TO GERRIT SMITH, ESQR.

Rochester, Nov. 6th, 1852

My dear Sir:

The cup of my joy is full. If my humble labors have in any measure contributed (as you kindly say they have) to your election, I am most amply rewarded. You are now, thank heaven, within sight and hearing of this guilty nation. For the rest, I fear nothing. You will do the work of an apostle of Liberty. May God give you strength. Your election forms an era in the great Anti-Slavery struggle. For the first time, a man will appear in the American Congress completely imbued with the spirit of freedom. Heretofore, virtue has had to ask pardon of men. Our friends who have nobly spoken great truths in Congress, on the subject of Slavery, have all of them found themselves in straits where they have been compelled to disavow or qualify their abolitionism so as to seriously damage the beauty and force of their testimony. Not so will it be with you. Should your life and health be spared (which blessings are devoutly prayed for), you will go into Congress with the "Jerry Level" in your hand, regarding Slavery as "naked piracy." You go to Congress, not by the grace of a party caucus, bestowed as a reward for party services; not by concealment, bargain or compromise, but by the unbought suffrages of your fellow citizens


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acting independently of, and in defiance of party! The odds against you were not insignificant. The Dixes, the Woodburys, the Stantons, the Seymours, and the Conklings, the very flower of your opponents were pitted against you. You are elected and they are defeated. "Nough said." You go to Congress, not for quiet nor seclusion, shut out from the eye of the world, where your thoughts and feelings had to be imagined, but you go from the very whirlwind of agitation, from "rescue trials," from womans' rights conventions and from "Jerry celebrations," where your lightest words were caught up and perverted to your hurt. You go to Congress a free man. I will not weary you with congratulations. My friend Julia, is even more ecstatic than myself about your election.

Please remind, favourably, Mrs. Smith, of your faithful friend,

Frederick Douglass

Gerrit Smith Papers, Syracuse University

A Call to Work
The mission of the political abolitionists of this country is to abolish slavery. The means to accomplish this great end is, first, to disseminate antislavery sentiment; and, secondly, to combine that sentiment and render it a political force which shall, for a time, operate as a check on violent measures for supporting slavery; and, finally, overthrow the great evil of slavery itself. -- The end sought is sanctioned by God and all his holy angels, by every principle of justice, by every pulsation of humanity, and by all the hopes of this republic. A better cause never summoned men to its support, nor invoked the blessings of heaven for success. Its opponents (whether they know it or not) are fighting against all that is noble in man -- all that is best in society; and if their principles shall prove uneradicable, and their measures successful, then, just so sure as there is a God in the universe, the hope of this republic will go out in blood. Men may laugh -- they may scoff -- they may wrap themselves in heedless indifference; but every


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fact of history, every sentiment of religion, every indication of Providence proclaims, trumpet-tongued, that a day of reckoning will come. If this guilty country be saved -- if it be made a blessing to mankind, that result will be accomplished, under God, by the faithful and self-sacrificing labors of the abolitionists. The work is great -- very great. There has been a great deal done; but there is much more to do. There never was a time when we should advance to that work with a lighter heart or a firmer tread. The anti-slavery sentiment of the country has just made its mark on the public records in a manner not to be despised, and well calculated to inspire confidence in final success. The means are at hand to carry that mark higher still. Whoever lives to see the year 1856, will see anti-slavery in the field, with a broader front and loftier mien than it ever wore before.

Causes are in operation greatly calculated to concentrate the anti-slavery sentiment, and to bring it to bear directly against slavery. One of these causes is the complete overthrow of the Whig party, 87 and the necessity which it imposes upon its Northern anti-slavery members to assume an attitude more in harmony with their convictions than they could do on the Baltimore platform. The Southern wing of this party (never very reliable) will naturally become fused into the Democratic party, with which it is now more in sympathy than it can be with Northern Whigs. It is evident, that the Whigs of the North must stand alone or stand with us. It is equally evident that they cannot, and do not, desire to array themselves against the only living sentiment of the North, since they would, by such a course, only commit political suicide and make themselves of no political consequence. The danger now to be apprehended is, not that our numbers will not increase, and increase rapidly and largely, but that we shall be tempted to modify our platform of principles and abate the stringency of our testimonies, so as to accommodate the wishes of those who have not hitherto distinctly acted with us, and who now wish to do so.

Now the way to swell our vote for freedom and to prevent the evil, thus briefly hinted at, is, to spread anti-slavery light, and to educate the people on the whole subject of slavery -- circulate the documents -- let the anti-slavery speaker, more than ever, go abroad -- let every town be visited, and let truth find its way into every house in the land. The people want to do what is best. They must be shown that to do right is best. The great work to be done is to educate the people, and to this work the abolitionist should address himself with full purpose of heart. -- This is no time for rest; but a time for every one to be up and doing. The battle, though not just begun, is far from being completed. The friends of freedom, in their various towns and counties, should, without waiting for some central organization to move in the matter, take up the work themselves -- collect funds -- form committees -- send for documents -- call in lecturers, and bring the great question of the day distinctly and fully before their fellow-citizens. We would not give the snap of our finger for one who begins and ends his anti-slavery labors on election day. Anti-slavery papers are to be upheld -- lecturers are to be sustained -- correspondence is to be kept up -- acquaintances are to be formed with those who sympathize with us, and a fraternal and brotherly feeling is to be increased, strengthened and kept up. Here,


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then, is work -- work for every one to do -- work which must be done if ever the great cause in which we have embarked is brought to a happy consummation. Let every one make this cause his own. Let him remember the deeply injured and imbruted slave as bound with him. Let him not forget that he is but a steward, and that he is bound to make a righteous use of his Lord's money. Let him make his anti-slavery a part of his very being, and God will bless him and increase him an hundred fold. Now is the time for a real anti-slavery revival. The efforts to silence discussion should be rebuked. We ought not, we must not be "hushed and mum" at the bidding of slave power conventions, or any other power on earth.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, November 19, 1852

Letter to Harriet Stowe
In March, 1853, Douglass visited Harriet Beecher Stowe at her home in Andover, Ohio, to consult with the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin "as to some method which should contribute successfully, and permanently, to the improvement and elevation of the free colored people in the United States...." Mrs. Stowe asked Douglas to propose the best plan to achieve the goal. 88

Anxious to secure approval of his plan, Douglass read his reply to Mrs. Stowe to the Rochester National Negro Convention. A number of delegates, Charles L. Remond and George T. Downing among them, were hostile to the proposal. They argued that the college would be too costly; that the Negro people would not be interested in the institution. The old contention that a Negro college was a capitulation to prejudice against color was also raised.

Douglass, Dr. James McCune Smith, and James W. C. Pennington led the battle for the industrial college. They pointed out that there were few Negro apprentices since there were not many Negro craftsmen and most white craftsmen were opposed to taking a Negro into service. An industrial college would produce skilled workers, and the presence of an "industrious, enterprising, upright, thrifty, and intelligent free black population would be a killing refutation of slavery." Since the college would be open to all students regardless of color, it could hardly be considered a segregated institution.

The majority of the delegates concurred with the arguments in favor of the industrial college, and voted to sponsor the institution. 89 [II:32]

TO HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

Rochester, March 8th, 1853

My Dear Mrs. Stowe:

You kindly informed me, when at your house, a fortnight ago, that you designed to do something which should permanently contribute to the improvement and elevation of the free colored people in the United States. You especially expressed an interest in such of this class as had become free by their own exertions, and desired


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most of all to be of service to them. In what manner, and by what means, you can assist this class most successfully, is the subject upon which you have done me the honor to ask my opinion.

Begging you to excuse the unavoidable delay, I will now most gladly comply with your request, but before doing so, I desire to express, dear Madam, my deep sense of the value of the services which you have already rendered my afflicted and persecuted people, by the publication of your inimitable book on the subject of slavery. That contribution to our bleeding cause, alone, involves us in a debt of gratitude which cannot be measured; and your resolution to make other exertions on our behalf excites in me emotions and sentiments, which I scarcely need try to give forth in words. Suffice it to say, that I believe you to have the blessings of your enslaved countrymen and countrywomen; and the still higher reward which comes to the soul in the smiles of our merciful Heavenly father, whose ear is ever open to the cries of the oppressed.

With such sentiments, dear Madam, I will at once proceed to lay before you, in as few words as the nature of the case will allow, my humble views in the premises. First of all, let me briefly state the nature of the disease, before I undertake to prescribe the remedy. Three things are notoriously true of us as a people. These are POVERTY, IGNORANCE AND DEGRADATION. Of course there are exceptions to this general statement; but these are so few as only to prove its essential truthfulness. I shall not stop here to inquire minutely into the causes which have produced our present condition; nor to denounce those whom I believe to be responsible for these causes. It is enough that we shall agree upon the character of the evil, whose existence we deplore, and upon some plan for its removal.

I assert then, that poverty, ignorance and degradation are the combined evil or, in other words, these constitute the social disease of the Free Colored people in the United States.

To deliver them from this triple malady, is to improve and elevate them, by which I mean simply to put them on an equal footing with their white fellow-countrymen in the sacred right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I am for no fancied or artificial elevation, but only ask fair play. How shall this be obtained? I answer, first, not by establishing for our use high schools and colleges. Such institutions are, in my judgment, beyond our immediate occasions, and are not adapted to our present most pressing wants. High schools and colleges are excellent institutions, and will, in due season, be greatly subservient to our progress; but they are the result, as well as they are the demand of a point of progress, which we, as a people, have not yet attained. Accustomed, as we have been, to the rougher and harder modes of living, and of gaining a livelihood, we cannot, and we ought not to hope that, in a single leap from our low condition, we can reach that of Ministers, Lawyers, Doctors, Editors, Merchants, &c. These will, doubtless, be attained by us; but this will only be, when we have patiently and laboriously, and I may add successfully, mastered and passed through the intermediate gradations of agriculture and the mechanic arts. Besides, there are (and perhaps this is a better reason for my view of the case) numerous institutions of learning in this country, already thrown open to colored youth. To my thinking, there are quite as many facilities now afforded to the colored people, as they can spare the time, from the


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sterner duties of life, to avail themselves of. In their present condition of poverty, they cannot spare their sons and daughters two or three years at boarding schools or colleges, to say nothing of finding the means to sustain them while at such institutions. I take it, therefore, that we are well provided for in this respect; and that it may be fairly inferred from the past that the facilities for our education, so far as schools and colleges in the Free States are concerned, will increase quite in proportion with our future wants. Colleges have been open to colored youth in this country during the last dozen years. Yet few, comparatively, have acquired a classical education; and even this few have found themselves educated far above a living condition, there being no methods by which they could turn their learning to account. Several of this latter class have entered the ministry; but you need not be told that an educated people is needed to sustain an educated ministry. There must be a certain amount of cultivation among the people to sustain such a ministry. At present, we have not that cultivation amongst us; and therefore, we value, in the preacher, strong lungs, rather than high learning. I do not say that educated ministers are not needed amongst us. -- Far from it! I wish there were more of them; but to increase their number is not the largest benefit you can bestow upon us.

You, dear Madam, can help the masses. You can do something for the thousands; and by lifting these from the depths of poverty and ignorance, you can make an educated ministry and an educated class possible. In the present circumstances, prejudice is a bar to the educated black minister among the whites; and ignorance is a bar to him among the blacks.

We have now two or three colored lawyers in this country; and I rejoice in the fact; for it affords very gratifying evidence of our progress. Yet it must be confessed that, in point of success, our lawyers are as great failures as are our ministers. White people will not employ them to the obvious embarrassment of their causes, and the blacks, taking their cue from the whites, have not sufficient confidence in their abilities to employ them. Hence, educated colored men, among the colored people, are at a very great discount. It would seem that education and emigration go together with us; for as soon as a man rises amongst us, capable, by his genius and learning, to do us great service, just so soon he finds that he can serve himself better by going elsewhere. In proof of this, I might instance the Russwurms -- the Garnetts -- the Wards -- the Crummells and others -- all men of superior ability and attainments, and capable of removing mountains of prejudice against their race, by their simple presence in the country; but these gentlemen, finding themselves embarrassed here by the peculiar disadvantages to which I have referred -- disadvantages in part growing out of their education -- being repelled by ignorance on the one hand, and prejudice on the other, and having no taste to continue a contest against such odds, they have sought more congenial climes, where they can live more peaceable and quiet lives. I regret their election -- but I cannot blame them; for, with an equal amount of education, and the hard lot which was theirs, I might follow their example.

But, again, it has been said that the colored people must become farmers -- that they must go on the land, in order to their elevation. Hence, many benevolent people are contributing the necessary funds to purchase land in Canada, and elsewhere, for them. That prince of good men, Gerrit Smith, has given away


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thousands of acres to colored men in this State, thinking, doubtless, that in so doing he was conferring a blessing upon them. 90 Now, while I do not undervalue the efforts which have been made, and are still being made in this direction, yet I must say that I have far less confidence in such efforts, than I have in the benevolence which prompts them. Agricultural pursuits are not, as I think, suited to our condition. The reason of this is not to be found so much in the occupation, (for it is a noble and ennobling one,) as in the people themselves. That is only a remedy, which can be applied to the case; and the difficulty in agricultural pursuits, as a remedy for the evils of poverty and ignorance amongst us, is that it cannot, for various reasons, be applied.

We cannot apply it, because it is almost impossible to get colored men to go on the land. From some cause or other, (perhaps the adage that misery loves company will explain,) colored people will congregate in the large towns and cities; and they will endure any amount of hardship and privation, rather than separate, and go into the country. Again, very few have the means to set up for themselves, or to get where they could do so.

Another consideration against expending energy in this direction is our want of self-reliance. Slavery more than all things else, robs its victims of self-reliance. To go into the western wilderness, and there to lay the foundation of future society, requires more of that important quality than a life of slavery has left us. This may sound strange to you, coming as it does from a colored man; but I am dealing with facts, and these never accommodate themselves to the feelings or wishes of any. They don't ask, but take leave to be. It is a fact then, and not less so because I wish it were otherwise, that the colored people are wanting in self-reliance -- too fond of society -- too eager for immediate results -- and too little skilled in mechanics or husbandry to attempt to overcome the wilderness; at least, until they have overcome obstacles less formidable. Therefore, I look to other means than agricultural pursuits for the elevation and improvement of colored people. Of course, I allege this of the many. There are exceptions. Individuals among us, with commendable zeal, industry, perseverance and self-reliance, have found, and are finding, in agricultural pursuits, the means of supporting, improving and educating their families.

The plan which I contemplate will, (if carried into effect,) greatly increase the number of this class -- since it will prepare others to meet the rugged duties which a pioneer agricultural condition must impose upon all who take it upon them. What I propose is intended simply to prepare men for the work of getting an honest living -- not out of dishonest men -- but out of an honest earth.

Again, there is little reason to hope that any considerable number of the free colored people will ever be induced to leave this country, even if such a thing were desirable. This black man -- unlike the Indian -- loves civilization. He does not make very great progress in civilization himself but he likes to be in the midst of it, and prefers to share its most galling evils, to encountering barbarism. Then the love of the country, the dread of isolation, the lack of adventurous spirit, and the thought of seeming to desert their "brethren in bonds," are a powerful check upon all schemes of colonization which look to the removal of the colored people, without the slaves. The truth is, dear madam, we are here, and here we are


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likely to remain. Individuals emigrate -- nations never. We have grown up with this republic, and I see nothing in her character, or even in the character of the American people as yet, which compels the belief that we must leave the United States. If then, we are to remain here, the question for the wise and good is precisely that you have submitted to me -- namely: What can be done to improve the condition of the free people of color in the United States? The plan which I humbly submit in answer to this inquiry -- and in the hope that it may find favor with you, and with many friends of humanity who honor, love and co-operate with you -- is the establishment in Rochester, N.Y., or in some other part of the United States equally favorable to such an enterprise, of an INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE in which shall be taught several important branches of the mechanical arts. This college is to be opened to colored youth. I will pass over, for the present, the details of such an institution as I propose. It is not worth while that I should dwell upon these at all. Once convinced that something of the sort is needed, and the organizing power will be forthcoming. It is the peculiarity of your favored race that they can always do what they think necessary to be done. I can safely trust all details to yourself, and the wise and good people whom you represent in the interest you take in my oppressed fellow-countrymen.

Never having had a day's schooling in all my life I may not be expected to map out the details of a plan so comprehensive as that involved in the idea of a college. I repeat, then, I leave the organization and administration to the superior wisdom of yourself and the friends who second your noble efforts. The argument in favor of an Industrial College -- a college to be conducted by the best men -- and the best workmen which the mechanical arts can afford; a college where colored youth can be instructed to use their hands, as well as their heads; where they can be put into possession of the means of getting a living whether their lot in after life may be cast among civilized or uncivilized men; whether they choose to stay here, or prefer to return to the land of their fathers -- is briefly this: Prejudice against the free colored people in the United States has shown itself nowhere so invincible as among mechanics. The farmer and the professional man cherish no feeling so bitter as that cherished by these. The latter would starve us out of the country entirely. At this moment I can more easily get my son into a lawyer's office to learn law than I can into a blacksmith's shop to blow the bellows and to wield the sledge-hammer. Denied the means of learning useful trades we are pressed into the narrowest limits to obtain a livelihood. In times past we have been the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for American society, and we once enjoyed a monopoly in the menial enjoyments, but this is so no longer. Even these enjoyments are rapidly passing away out of our hands. The fact is -- every day begins with the lesson, and ends with the lesson -- the colored men must learn trades; and must find new employment; new modes of usefulness to society, or that they must decay under the pressing wants to which their condition is rapidly bringing them.

We must become mechanics; we must build as well as live in houses; we must make as well as use furniture; we must construct bridges as well as pass over them, before we can properly live or be respected by our fellow men. We need mechanics as well as ministers. We need workers in iron, clay, and leather. We


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have orators, authors, and other professional men, but these reach only a certain class, and get respect for our race in certain select circles. To live here as we ought we must fasten ourselves to our countrymen through their every day cardinal wants. We must not only be able to black boots, but to make them. At present we are unknown in the Northern States as mechanics. We give no proof of genius or skill at the county, State, or national fairs. We are unknown at any of the great exhibitions of the industry of our fellow-citizens, and being unknown we are unconsidered.

The fact that we make no show of our ability is held conclusive of our inability to make any, hence all the indifference and contempt with which incapacity is regarded, fall upon us, and that too, when we have had no means of disproving the infamous opinion of our natural inferiority. I have during the last dozen years denied before the Americans that we are an inferior race; but this has been done by arguments based upon admitted principles rather than by the presentation of facts. Now, firmly believing, as I do, that there are skill, invention, power, industry, and real mechanical genius, among the colored people, which will bear favorable testimony for them, and which only need the means to develop them, I am decidedly in favor of the establishment of such a college as I have mentioned. The benefits of such an institution would not be confined to the Northern States, nor to the free colored people. They would extend over the whole Union. The slave not less than the freeman would be benefited by such an institution. It must be confessed that the most powerful argument now used by the Southern slaveholder, and the one most soothing to his conscience, is that derived from the low condition of the free colored people of the North. I have long felt that too little attention has been given by our truest friends in this country to removing this stumbling block out of the way of the slave's liberation.

The most telling, the most killing refutation of slavery, is the presentation of an industrious, enterprising, thrifty, and intelligent free black population. Such a population I believe would rise in the Northern States under the fostering care of such a college as that supposed.

To show that we are capable of becoming mechanics I might adduce any amount of testimony; dear madam, I need not ring the changes on such a proposition. There is no question in the mind of any unprejudiced person that the Negro is capable of making a good mechanic. Indeed, even those who cherish the bitterest feelings towards us have admitted that the apprehension that Negroes might be employed in their stead, dictated the policy of excluding them from trades altogether. But I will not dwell upon this point as I fear I have already trespassed too long upon your precious time, and written more than I ought to expect you to read. Allow me to say in conclusion, that I believe every intelligent colored man in America will approve and rejoice at the establishment of some such institution as that now suggested. There are many respectable colored men, fathers of large families, having boys nearly grown up, whose minds are tossed by day and by night with the anxious enquiry, "what shall I do with my boys?" Such an institution would meet the wants of such persons. Then, too, the establishment of such an institution would be in character with the eminently practical philanthropy of your trans-Atlantic friends. America could


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scarce object to it as an attempt to agitate the public mind on the subject of slavery, or to dissolve the Union. It could not be tortured into a cause for hard words by the American people, but the noble and good of all classes, would see in the effort an excellent motive, a benevolent object, temperately, wisely, and practically manifested.

Wishing, you, dear madam, renewed health, a pleasant passage, and safe return to your native land.

I am most truly, your grateful friend,

Frederick Douglass

Proceedings of the Colored National Convention Held in Rochester, July 6th, 7th and 8th, 1853, Rochester, 1853, pp. 33 -- 38

The Heroic Slave
With the assistance of the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, of which she was secretary, [Julia] Griffiths in 1853 published a gift-book, Autographs for Freedom, to aid Douglass' paper. Several hundred gift-books had been issued in this country before the Civil War, and the anti-slavery cause alone had produced five before Autographs for Freedom made its appearance. The new feature of Miss Griffiths' volume was the autographs which followed the author's essays, letters, and speeches. Like the other anti-slavery gift-books, it was designed to be sold at Abolitionist fairs and bazaars, though Douglass also offered the volume to subscribers as a means of extending the circulation of his journal. 91

Commenting on the English edition of Autographs for Freedom, the British Banner observed: "The book is deeply interesting, and as presenting the aggregate of liberal sentiments from cultivated and enlightened minds, possesses a peculiar value." Among the "cultivated and enlightened" contributors were Negro leaders such as J. McCune Smith, George B. Vashon, William G. Allen, Charles L. Reason, James M. Whitfield, William Wells Brown, J. M. Langston and Douglass himself; public figures such as William H. Seward, Horace Greeley, Gerrit Smith, Horace Mann, and Joshua R. Giddings; preachers and philosophers such as Theodore Parker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Ward Beecher; and women


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reformers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Antoinette Brown, Caroline M. Kirkland, Catherine M. Sedgwick, and Jane Swisshelm. Most of the contributions were brief -- frequently a page in length -- and few were outstanding for their literary merit. But the volumes did contain some previously unpublished work by prominent writers, and some of the contributions by the Negro authors rank high in the literature of the anti-slavery movement. 92 The 1853 issue featured a little-known work of fiction by Frederick Douglass entitled The Heroic Slave, a short story about Madison Washington, who led the famous uprising in 1841 on the Creole, a ship engaged in the domestic slave trade. [I:89 -- 90]

THE HEROIC SLAVE

PART I.


Oh! child of grief, why weepest thou?
Why droops thy sad and mournful brow?
Why is thy look so like despair?
What deep, sad sorrow lingers there?

The State of Virginia is famous in American annals for the multitudinous array of her statesmen and heroes. She has been dignified by some the mother of statesmen. History has not been sparing in recording their names, or in blazoning their dead. Her high position in this respect, has given her an enviable distinction among her sister States. With Virginia for his birthplace, even a man of ordinary parts, on account of the general partiality for her sons, easily rises to eminent stations. Men, not great enough to attract special attention in their native States, have, like a certain distinguished citizen in the State of New York, sighed and repined that they were not born in Virginia. Yet not all the great ones of the Old Dominion have, by the fact of their birth-place, escaped undeserved obscurity. By some strange neglect, one of the truest, manliest, and bravest of her children, -- one who, in after years, will, I think, command the pen of genius to set his merits forth, holds now no higher place in the records of that grand old Commonwealth than is held by a horse or an ox. Let those account for it who can, but there stands the fact, that a man who loved liberty as well as did Patrick Henry -- who deserved it as much as Thomas Jefferson, -- and who fought for it with a valor as high, and arms as strong, and against odds as great, as he who led all the armies of the American colonies through the great war for freedom and independence, lives now only in the chattel records of his native State.

Glimpses of this great character are all that can now be presented. He is brought to view only by a few transient incidents, and these afford but partial satisfaction. Like a guiding star on a stormy night, he is seen through the parted clouds and the howling tempests; or, like the gray peak of a menacing rock on a perilous coast, he is seen by the quivering flash of angry lightning, and he again disappears covered with mystery.

Curiously, earnestly, anxiously we peer into the dark, and wish even for the blinding flash, or the light of northern skies to reveal him. But alas! he is still enveloped in darkness, and we return from the pursuit like a wearied and disheartened mother, (after a tedious and unsuccessful search for a lost child,) who


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returns weighed down with disappointment and sorrow. Speaking of marks, traces, possibles, and probabilities, we come before our readers.

In the spring of 1835, on a Sabbath morning, within hearing of the solemn peals of the church bells at a distant village, a Northern traveller through the State of Virginia drew up his horse to drink at a sparkling brook, near the edge of a dark pine forest. While his weary and thirsty steed drew in the grateful water, the rider caught the sound of a human voice, apparently engaged in earnest conversation.

Following the direction of the sound, he descried, among the tall pines, the man whose voice had arrested his attention. "To whom can he be speaking?" thought the traveller. "He seems to be alone." The circumstance interested him much, and he became intensely curious to know what thoughts and feelings, or, it might be, high aspirations, guided those rich and mellow accents. Tieing his horse at a short distance from the brook, he stealthily drew near the solitary speaker; and, concealing himself by the side of a huge fallen tree, he distinctly heard the following soliloquy: --

"What, then, is life to me? It is aimless and worthless, and worse than worthless. Those birds, perched on you swinging boughs, in friendly conclave, sounding forth their merry notes in seeming worship of the rising sun, though liable to the sportsman's fowling-piece, are still my superiors. They live free, though they may die slaves. They fly where they list by day, and retire in freedom at night. But what is freedom to me, or I to it? I am a slave, -- born a slave, an abject slave, -- even before I made part of this breathing world, the scourge was plaited for my back; the fetters were forged for my limbs. How mean a thing am I. That accursed and crawling snake, that miserable reptile, that has just glided into its slimy home, is freer and better off than I. He escaped my blow, and is safe. But here am I, a man, -- yes, a man! -- with thoughts and wishes, with powers and faculties as far as angel's flight above that hated reptile, -- yet he is my superior, and scorns to own me as his master, or to stop to take my blows. When he saw my uplifted arm, he darted beyond my reach, and turned to give me battle. I dare not do as much as that. I neither run nor fight, but do meanly stand, answering each heavy blow of a cruel master with doleful wails and piteous cries. I am galled with irons; but even these are more tolerable than the consciousness, the galling consciousness of cowardice and indecision. Can it be that I dare not run away? Perish the thought, I dare do anything which may be done by another. When that young man struggled with the waves, for life, and others stood back appalled in helpless horror, did I not plunge in, forgetful of life, to save his? The raging bull from whom all others fled, pale with fright, did I not keep at bay with a single pitch-fork? Could a coward do that? No, -- no, -- I wrong myself, -- I am no coward. Liberty I will have, or die in the attempt to gain it. This working that others may live in idleness! This cringing submission to insolence and curses! This living under the constant dread and apprehensions of being sold and transferred, like a mere brute, is too much for me. I will stand it no longer. What others have done, I will do. These trusty legs, or these sinewy arms shall place me among the free. Tom escaped; so can I. The North Star will not be less kind to me than to him. I will follow it. I will at least make the trial. I have nothing to


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lose. If I am caught, I shall only be a slave. If I am shot, I shall only lose a life which is a burden and a curse. If I get clear, (as something tells me I shall,) liberty, the inalienable birth-right of every man, precious and priceless, will be mine. My resolution is fixed. I shall be free."

At these words the traveller raised his head cautiously and noiselessly, and caught, from his hiding-place, a full view of the unsuspecting speaker. Madison (for that was the name of our hero) was standing erect, a smile of satisfaction rippled upon his expressive countenance, like that which plays upon the face of one who has but just solved a difficult problem, or vanquished a malignant foe; for at that moment he was free, at least in spirit. The future gleamed brightly before him, and his fetters lay broken at his feet. His air was triumphant.

Madison was of manly form. Tall, symmetrical, round, and strong. In his movements he seemed to combine, with the strength of the lion, a lion's elasticity. His torn sleeves disclosed arms like polished iron. His face was "black, but comely." His eye, lit with emotion, kept guard under a brow as dark and as glossy as the raven's wing. His whole appearance betokened Herculean strength; yet there was nothing savage or forbidding in his aspect. A child might play in his arms, or dance on his shoulders. A giant's strength, but not a giant's heart was in him. His broad mouth and nose spoke only of good nature and kindness. But his voice, that unfailing index of the soul, though full and melodious, had that in it which could terrify as well as charm. He was just the man you would choose when hardships were to be endured, or danger to be encountered, -- intelligent and brave. He had the head to conceive, and the hand to execute. In a word, he was one to be sought as a friend, but to be dreaded as an enemy.

As our traveller gazed upon him, he almost trembled at the thought of his dangerous intrusion. Still he could not quit the place. He had long desired to sound the mysterious depths of the thoughts and feelings of a slave. He was not, therefore, disposed to allow so providential an opportunity to pass unimproved. He resolved to hear more; so he listened again for those mellow and mournful assents which, he says, made such an impression upon him as can never be erased. He did not have to wait long. There came another gush from the same full fountain; now bitter, and now sweet. Scathing denunciations of the cruelty and unjustice of slavery; heart-touching narrations of his own personal suffering, intermingled with prayers to the God of the oppressed for help and deliverance, were followed by presentations of the dangers and difficulties of escape, and formed the burden of his eloquent utterances; but his high resolution clung to him, -- for he ended each speech by an emphatic declaration of his purpose to be free. It seemed that the very repetition of this imparted a glow to his countenance. The hope of freedom seemed to sweeten, for a season, the bitter cup of slavery, and to make it, for a time, tolerable; for when in the very whirlwind of anguish, -- when the heart's cord seemed screwed up to snapping tension, hope sprung up and soothed his troubled spirit. Fitfully he would exclaim, "How can I leave her? Poor thing! what can she do when I am gone? Oh! oh! 'tis impossible that I can leave poor Susan!"

A brief pause intervened. Our traveller raised his head, and saw again the sorrow-smitten slave. His eye was fixed upon the ground. The strong man staggered


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under a heavy load. Recovering himself, he argued, thus aloud: "All is uncertain here. To-morrow's sun may not rise before I am sold, and separated from her I love. What, then, could I do for her? I should be in more hopeless slavery, and she no nearer to liberty, -- whereas if I were free, -- my arms my own, -- I might devise the means to rescue her."

This said, Madison cast around a searching glance, as if the thought of being overheard had flashed across his mind. He said no more, but, with measured steps, walked away, and was lost to the eye of our traveller amidst the wildering woods.

Long after Madison had left the ground, Mr. Listwell (our traveller) remained in motionless silence, meditating on the extraordinary revelations to which he had listened. He seemed fastened to the spot, and stood half hoping, half fearing the return of the sable preacher to his solitary temple. The speech of Madison rung through the chambers of his soul, and vibrated through his entire frame. "Here is indeed a man," thought he, "of rare endowments, -- a child of God, -- guilty of no crime but the color of his skin, -- hiding away from the face of humanity, and pouring out his thoughts and feelings, his hopes and resolutions to the lonely woods; to him those distant church bells have no grateful music. He shuns the church, the altar, and the great congregation of Christian worshippers, and wanders away to the gloomy forest, to utter in the vacant air complaints and griefs, which the religion of his times and his country can neither console nor relieve. Goaded almost to madness by the sense of the injustice done him, he resorts hither to give vent to his pent up feelings, and to debate with himself the feasibility of plans of his own invention, for his own deliverance. From this hour I am an abolitionist. I have seen enough and heard enough, and I shall go to my home in Ohio resolved to atone for my past indifference to this ill-starred race, by making such exertions as I shall be able to do, for the speedy emancipation of every slave in the land.

PART II.


The gaudy, babbling and remorseful day
Is crept into the bosom of the sea;
And now loud-howling wolves arouse the jades
That drag the tragic melancholy night;
Who with their drowsy, slow, and flagging wings
Clip dead men's graves, and from their misty jaws
Breathe foul contagions, darkness in the air.
Shakespeare

Five years after the foregoing singular occurrence, in the winter of 1840, Mr. and Mrs. Listwell sat together by the fireside of their own happy home, in the State of Ohio. The children were all gone to bed. A single lamp burnt brightly on the center table. All was still and comfortable within; but the night was cold and dark; a heavy wind sighed and moaned sorrowfully around the house and barn, occasionally bringing against the chattering windows a stray leaf from the large oak trees that embowered their dwelling. It was a night for strange noises and for strange fancies. A whole wilderness of thought might pass through one's


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mind during such an evening. The smouldering embers, partaking of the sprit of the restless night, became fruitful of varied and fantastic pictures, and revived many bygone scenes and old impressions. The happy pair seemed to sit in silent fascination, gazing on the fire. Suddenly this reverie was interrupted by a heavy growl. Ordinarily such an occurrence would have scarcely provoked a single word, or excited the least apprehension. But there are certain seasons when the slightest sound sends a jar through all the subtle chambers of the mind; and such a season was this. The happy pair started up, as if some sudden danger had come upon them. The growl was from their trusty watch-dog.

"What can it mean? Certainly no one can be out on such a night as this," said Mrs. Listwell.

"The wind has deceived the dog, my dear; he has mistaken the noise of falling branches, brought down by the wind, for that of the footsteps of persons coming to the house. I have several times to-night thought that I heard the sound of footsteps. I am sure, however, that it was but the wind. Friends would not be likely to come out at such an hour, or such a night; and thieves are too lazy and self-indulgent to expose themselves to this biting frost; but should there be any one about, our brave old Monte, who is on the look-out, will not be slow in sounding the alarm."

Saying this they quietly left the window, whither they had gone to learn the cause of the menacing growl, and re-seated themselves by the fire, as if reluctant to leave the slowly expiring embers, although the hour was late. A few minutes only intervened after resuming their seats, when again their sober meditations were disturbed. Their faithful dog now growled and barked furiously, as if assailed by an advancing foe. Simultaneously the good couple arose, and stood in mute expectation. The contest without seemed fierce and violent. It was, however, soon over, -- the barking ceased, for, with true canine instinct, Monte quickly discovered that a friend, not an enemy of the family, was coming to the house, and instead of rushing to repel the supposed intruder, he was now at the door, whimpering and dancing for the admission of himself and his newly made friend.

Mr. Listwell knew by this movement that all was well; he advanced and opened the door, and saw by the light that streamed out into the darkness, a tall man advancing slowly towards the house, with a stick in one hand, and a small bundle in the other. "It is a traveller," thought he, "who has missed his way, and is coming to inquire the road. I am glad we did not go to bed earlier, -- I have felt all the evening as if somebody would be here to-night."

The man had now halted a short distance from the door, and looked prepared alike for flight or battle. "Come in, sir, don't be alarmed, you have probably lost your way."

Slightly hesitating, the traveller walked in; not, however, without regarding his host with a scrutinizing glance. "No, sir," said he "I have come to ask you a greater favor."

Instantly Mr. Listwell exclaimed, (as the recollection of the Virginia forest scene flashed upon him,) "Oh, sir, I know not your name, but I have seen your face, and heard your voice before. I am glad to see you. I know all. You are flying for your liberty, -- be seated, -- be seated, -- banish all fear. You are safe under my roof."


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This recognition, so unexpected, rather disconcerted and disquieted the noble fugitive. The timidity and suspicion of persons escaping from slavery are easily awakened, and often what is intended to dispel the one, and to allay the other, has precisely the opposite effect. It was so in this case. Quickly observing the unhappy impression made by his words and action, Mr. Listwell assumed a more quiet and inquiring aspect, and finally succeeded in removing the apprehensions which his very natural and generous salutation had aroused.

Thus assured, the stranger said, "Sir, you have rightly guessed, I am, indeed, a fugitive from slavery. My name is Madison, -- Madison Washington my mother used to call me. I am on my way to Canada, where I learn that persons of my color are protected in all the rights of men; and my object in calling upon you was, to beg the privilege of resting my weary limbs for the night in your barn. It was my purpose to have continued my journey till morning; but the piercing cold, and the frowning darkness compelled me to seek shelter; and, seeing a light through the lattice of your window, I was encouraged to come here to beg the privilege named. You will do me a great favor by affording me shelter for the night."

"A resting-place, indeed, sir, you shall have; not, however, in my barn, but in the best room of my house. Consider yourself, if you please, under the roof of a friend; for such I am to you, and to all your deeply injured race."

While this introductory conversation was going on, the kind lady had revived the fire, and was diligently preparing supper; for she, not less than her husband, felt for the sorrows of the oppressed and hunted ones of earth, and was always glad of an opportunity to do them a service. A bountiful repast was quickly prepared, and the hungry and toil-worn bondman was cordially invited to partake thereof. Gratefully he acknowledged the favor of his benevolent benefactress; but appeared scarcely to understand what such hospitality could mean. It was the first time in his life that he had met so humane and friendly a greeting at the hands of persons whose color was unlike his own; yet it was impossible for him to doubt the charitableness of his new friends, or the genuiness of the welcome so freely given; and he therefore, with many thanks, took his seat at the table with Mr. and Mrs. Listwell, who, desirous to make him feel at home, took a cup of tea themselves, while urging upon Madison the best that the house could afford.

Supper over, all doubts and apprehensions banished, the three drew around the blazing fire, and a conversation commenced which lasted till long after midnight.

"Now," said Madison to Mr. Listwell, "I was a little surprised and alarmed when I came in, by what you said; do tell me, sir, why you thought you had seen my face before, and by what you knew me to be a fugitive from slavery; for I am sure that I never was before in this neighborhood, and I certainly sought to conceal what I supposed to be the manner of a fugitive slave."

Mr. Listwell at once frankly disclosed the secret; describing the place where he first saw him; rehearsing the language which he (Madison) had used; referring to the effect which his manner and speech had made upon him; declaring the resolution he there formed to be an abolitionist; telling how often he had spoken of the circumstance, and the deep concern he had ever since felt to know what had become of him; and whether he had carried out the purpose to make his escape, as in the woods he declared he would do.


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"Ever since that morning," said Mr. Listwell, "you have seldom been absent from my mind, and though now I did not dare to hope that I should ever see you again, I have often wished that such might be my fortune; for, from that hour, your face seemed to be daguerreotyped on my memory." Madison looked quite astonished, and felt amazed at the narration to which he had listened. After recovering himself he said, "I well remember that moming, and the bitter anguish that wrung my heart; I will state the occasion of it. I had, on the previous Saturday, suffered a cruel lashing; had been tied up to the limb of a tree, with my feet chained together, and a heavy iron bar placed between my ankles. Thus suspended, I received on my naked back, forty stripes, and was kept in this distressing position three or four hours, and was then let down, only to have my torture increased; for my bleeding back, gashed by the cow-skin, was washed by the overseer with old brine, partly to augment my suffering, and partly, as he said, to prevent inflammation. My crime was that I had stayed longer at the mill, the day previous, than it was thought I ought to have done, which, I assured my master and the overseer, was no fault of mine; but no excuses were allowed. `Hold your tongue, you impudent rascal,' met my every explanation. Slave-holders are so imperious when their passions are excited, as to construe every word of the slave into insolence. I could do nothing but submit to the agonizing infliction. Smarting still from the wounds, as well as from the consciousness of being whipt for no cause, I took advantage of the absence of my master, who had gone to church, to spend the time in the woods, and brood over my wretched lot. Oh, sir, I remember it well, -- and can never forget it."

"But this was five years ago; where have you been since?"

"I will try to tell you," said Madison. "Just four weeks after that Sabbath morning, I gathered up the few rags of clothing I had and started, as I, supposed, for the North and for freedom. I must not stop to describe my feelings on taking this step. It seemed like taking a leap into the dark. The thought of leaving my poor wife and two little children caused me indescribable anguish; but consoling myself with the reflection that once free, I could, possibly, devise ways and means to gain their freedom also, I nerved myself up to make the attempt. I started, but ill-luck attended me; for after being out a whole week, strange to say, I still found myself on my master's grounds; the third night after being out, a season of clouds and rain set in, wholly preventing me from seeing the North Star, which I had trusted as my guide, not dreaming that clouds might intervene between us.

"This circumstance was fatal to my project, for in losing my star, I lost my way; so when I supposed I was far towards the North, and had almost gained my freedom, I discovered myself at the very point from which I had started. It was a severe trial, for I arrived at home in great destitution; my feet were sore, and in travelling in the dark, I had dashed my foot against a stump, and started a nail, and lamed myself. I was wet and cold; one week had exhausted all my stores; and when I landed on my master's plantation, with all my work to do over again, -- hungry, tired, lame, and bewildered, -- I almost cursed the day that I was born. In this extremity I approached the quarters. I did so stealthily, although in my desperation I hardly cared whether I was discovered or not. Peeping through the rents of the quarters, I saw my fellow slaves seated by a warm


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fire, merrily passing away the time, as though their hearts knew no sorrow. Although I envied their seeming contentment, all wretched as I was, I despised the cowardly acquiescence in their own degradation which it implied, and felt a kind of pride and glory in my own desperate lot. I dared not enter the quarters, -- for where there is seeming contentment with slavery, there is certain treachery to freedom. I proceeded towards the great house, in the hope of catching a glimpse of my poor wife, whom I knew might be trusted with my secrets even on the scaffold. Just as I reached the fence which divided the field from the garden, I saw a woman in the yard, who in the darkness I took to be my wife; but a nearer approach told me it was not she. I was about to speak; had I done so, I would not have been here this night; for an alarm would have been sounded, and the hunters been put on my track. Here were hunger, cold, thirst, disappointment, and chagrin, confronted only by the dim hope of liberty. I tremble to think of that dreadful hour. To face the deadly cannon's mouth in warm blood unterrified, is, I think, a small achievement, compared with a conflict like this with gaunt starvation. The gnawings of hunger conquers by degrees, till all that a man has he would give in exchange for a single crust of bread. Thank God, I was not quite reduced to this extremity.

"Happily for me, before the fatal moment of utter despair, my good wife made her appearance in the yard. It was she; I knew her step. All was well now. I was, however, afraid to speak, lest I should frighten her. Yet speak I did; and, to my great joy, my voice was known. Our meeting can be more easily imagined than described. For a time hunger, thirst, weariness, and lameness were forgotten. But it was soon necessary for her to return to the house. She being a house-servant, her absence from the kitchen, if discovered, might have excited suspicion. Our parting was like tearing the flesh from my bones; yet it was the part of wisdom for her to go. She left me with the purpose of meeting me at midnight in the very forest where you last saw me. She knew the place well, as one of my melancholy resorts, and could easily find it, though the night was dark.

"I hastened away, therefore, and concealed myself, to await the arrival of my good angel. As I lay there among the leaves, I was strongly tempted to return again to the house of my master and give myself up; but remembering my solemn pledge on that memorable Sunday morning, I was able to linger out the two long hours between ten and midnight. I may well call them long hours. I have endured much hardship; I have encountered many perils, but the anxiety of those two hours, was the bitterest, I ever experienced. True to her word, my wife came laden with provisions, and we sat down on the side of a log, at that dark and lonesome hour of the night. I cannot say we talked; our feelings were too great for that; yet we came to an understanding that I should make the woods my home, for if I gave myself up, I should be whipped and sold away; and if I started for the North, I should leave a wife doubly dear to me. We mutually determined, therefore, that I should remain in the vicinity. In the dismal swamps I lived, sir, five long years, -- a cave for my home during the day. I wandered about at night with the wolf and the bear, -- sustained by the promise that my good Susan would meet me in the pine woods at least once a week. This promise was redeemed I assure you, to the letter, greatly to my relief. I had partly become contented with my mode of life, and


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had made up my mind to spend my days there; but the wilderness that sheltered me thus long took fire, and refused longer to be my hiding-place.

"I will not harrow up your feelings by portraying the terrific scene of this awful conflagration. There is nothing to which I can liken it. It was horribly and indescribably grand. The whole world seemed on fire, and it appeared to me that the day of judgment had come; that the burning bowels of the earth had burst forth, and that the end of all things was at hand. Bears and wolves scorched from their mysterious hiding-places in the earth, and all the wild inhabitants of the untrodden forest, filled with a common dismay, ran forth, yelling, howling, bewildered amidst the smoke and flame. The very heavens seemed to rain down fire through the towering trees; it was by the merest chance that I escaped the devouring element. Running before it, and stopping occasionally to take breath, I looked back to behold its frightful ravages, and to drink in its savage magnificence. It was awful, thrilling, solemn, beyond compare. When aided by the fitful wind, the merciless tempest of fire swept on, sparkling, creaking, cracking, curling, roaring, out-doing in its dreadful splendor a thousand thunderstorms at once. From tree to tree it leaped, swallowing them up in its lurid, baleful glare; and leaving them leafless, limbless, charred, and lifeless behind. The scene was over-whelming, stunning, -- nothing was spared, -- cattle, tame and wild, herds of swine and of deer, wild beasts of every name and kind, -- huge night-birds, bats, and owls, that had retired to their homes in lofty tree-tops to rest, perished in that fiery storm. The long-winged buzzard and croaking raven mingled their dismal cries with those of the countless myriads of small birds that rose up to the skies, and were lost to the sight in clouds of smoke and flame. Oh, I shudder when I think of it! Many a poor wandering fugitive, who, like myself, had sought among wild beasts the mercy denied by our fellow men, saw, in helpless consternation, his dwelling-place and city of refuge reduced to ashes forever. It was this grand conflagration that drove me hither; I ran alike from fire and from slavery."

After a slight pause, (for both speaker and hearers were deeply moved by the above recital,) Mr. Listwell, addressing Madison, said, "If it does not weary you too much, do tell us something of your journeyings since this disastrous burning, -- we are deeply interested in everything which can throw light on the hardships of persons escaping from slavery; we could hear you talk all night; are there no incidents that you could relate of your travels hither? Or are they such that you do not like to mention them?"

"For the most part, sir, my course has been uninterrupted; and, considering the circumstances, at times even pleasant. I have suffered little for want of food; but I need not tell you how I got it. Your moral code may differ from mine, as your customs and usages are different. The fact is sir, during my flight, I felt myself robbed by society of all my just rights; that I was in an enemy's land, who sought both my life and my liberty. They had transformed me into a brute; made merchandise of my body, and, for all the purposes of my flight, turned day into night, -- and guided by my own necessities, and in contempt of their conventionality, I did not scruple to take bread where I could get it."

"And just there you were right," said Mr. Listwell; "I once had doubts on this point myself, but a conversation with Gerrit Smith, (a man, by the way, that


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I wish you could see, for he is a devoted friend of your race, and I know he would receive you gladly,) put an end to all my doubts on this point. But do not let me interrupt you."

"I had but one narrow escape during my whole journey," said Madison.

"Do let us hear of it," said Mr. Listwell.

"Two weeks ago," continued Madison, "after travelling all night, I was overtaken by daybreak, in what seemed to me an almost interminable wood. I deemed it unsafe to go farther, and, as usual, I looked around for a suitable tree in which to spend the day. I liked one with a bushy top, and found one just to my mind. Up I climbed, and hiding myself as well as I could, I, with this strap, (pulling one out of his old coat-pocket,) lashed myself to a bough, and flattered myself that I should get a good night's sleep that day; but in this I was soon disappointed. I had scarcely got fastened to my natural hammock, when I heard the voices of a number of persons, apparently approaching the part of the woods where I was. Upon my word, sir, I dreaded more these human voices than I should have done those of wild beasts. I was at a loss to know what to do. If I descended, I should probably be discovered by the men; and if they had dogs I should, doubtless, be `treed.' It was an anxious moment, but hardships and dangers have been the accompaniments of my life; and have, perhaps, imparted to me a certain hardness of character, which, to some extent, adapts me to them. In my present predicament, I decided to hold my place in the tree-top, and abide the consequences. But here I must disappoint you; for the men, who were all colored, halted at least a hundred yards from me, and began with their axes, in right good earnest, to attack the trees. The sound of their laughing axes was like the report of as many well-charged pistols. By and by there came down at least a dozen trees with a terrible crash. They leaped upon the fallen trees with an air of victory. I could see no dog with them, and felt myself comparatively safe, though I could not forget the possibility that some freak or fancy might bring the axe a little nearer my dwelling than comported with my safety.

"There was no sleep for me that day, and I wished for night. You may imagine that the thought of having the tree attacked under me was far from agreeable, and that it very easily kept me on the look-out. The day was not without diversion. The men at work seemed to be a gay set; and they would often make the woods resound with that uncontrolled laughter for which we, as a race, are remarkable. I held my place in the tree till sunset, -- saw the men put on their jackets to be off. I observed that all left the ground except one, whom I saw sitting on the side of a stump, with his head bowed, and his eyes apparently fixed on the ground. I became interested in him. After sitting in the position to which I have alluded ten or fifteen minutes, he left the stump, walked directly towards the tree in which I was secreted, and halted almost under the same. He stood for a moment and looked around, deliberately and reverently took off his hat, by which I saw that he was a man in the evening of life, slightly bald and quite gray. After laying down his hat carefully, he knelt and prayed aloud, and such a prayer, the most fervent, earnest, and solemn, to which I think I ever listened. After reverently addressing the Almighty, as the all-wise, all-good, and the common Father of all mankind, he besought God for grace, for strength, to bear up and under,


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and to endure, as a good soldier, all the hardships and trials which beset the journey of life, and to enable him to live in a manner which accorded with the gospel of Christ. His soul now broke out in humble supplication for deliverance from bondage. `O thou,' said he, `that hearest the raven's cry, take pity on poor me! O deliver me! O deliver me! in mercy, O God, deliver me from the chains and manifold hardships of slavery! With thee, O Father, all things are possible. Thou canst stand and measure the earth. Thou hast beheld and drove asunder the nations, -- all power is in thy hand, -- thous didst say of old, `I seen the affliction of my people, and am come to deliver them', -- Oh look down upon our afflictions, and have mercy upon us.' But I cannot repeat his prayer, nor can I give you an idea of its deep pathos. I had given but little attention to religion. and had but little faith in it; yet, as the old man prayed, I felt almost like coming down and kneeling by his side, and mingling my broken complaint with his.

"He had already gained my confidence; as how could it be otherwise? I knew enough of religion to know that the man who prays in secret is far more likely to be sincere than he who loves to pray standing in the street, or in the great congregation. When he arose from his knees, like another Zacheus, I came down from the tree. He seemed a little alarmed at first, but I told him my story, and the good man embraced me in his arms, and assured me of his sympathy.

"I was now about out of provisions, and thought I might safely ask him to help me replenish my store. He said he had no money; but if he had, he would freely give it me. I told him I had one dollar; it was all the money I had in the world. I gave it to him, and asked him to purchase some crackers and cheese, and to kindly bring me the balance; that I would remain in or near that place, and would come to him on his return, if he would whistle. He was gone only about an hour. Meanwhile, from some cause or other, I know not what, (but as you shall see very wisely,) I changed my place. On his return I started to meet him; but it seemed as if the shadow of approaching danger fell upon my spirit, and checked my progress. In a very few minutes, closely on the heels of the old man, I distinctly saw fourteen men, with something like guns in their hands."

"Oh! the old wretch!" exclaimed Mrs. Listwell "he had betrayed you, had he?"

"I think not," said Madison, "I cannot believe that the old man was to blame. He probably went into a store, asked for the articles for which I sent, and presented the bill I gave him; and it is so unusual for slaves in the country to have money, that fact, doubtless, excited suspicion, and gave rise to inquiry. I can easily believe that the truthfulness of the old man's character compelled him to disclose the facts; and thus were these blood-thirsty men put on my track. Of course I did not present myself; but hugged my hiding-place securely. If discovered and attacked, I resolved to sell my life as dearly as possible.

"After searching about the woods silently for a time, the whole company gathered around the old man; one charged him with lying, and called him an old villain; said he was a thief; charged him with stealing money; said if he did not instantly tell where he got it, they would take the shirt from his old back, and give him thirty-nine lashes.


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"`I did not steal the money,' said the old man, it was given me, as I told you at the store; and if the man who gave it to me is not here, it is not my fault.'

"`Hush! you lying old rascal; we'll make you smart for it. You shall not leave this spot until you have told where you got the money.'

"They now took hold of him, and began to strip him; while others went to get sticks with which to beat him. I felt, at the moment, like rushing out in the midst of them; but considering that the old man would be whipped the more for having aided a fugitive slave, and that, perhaps, in the melée he might be killed outright, I disobeyed this impulse. They tied him to a tree, and began to whip him. My own flesh crept at every blow, and I seem to hear the old man's piteous cries even now. They laid thirty-nine lashes on his bare back, and were going to repeat that number, when one of the company besought his comrades to desist. `You'll kill the d -- d old scoundrel! You've already whipt a dollar's worth out of him, even if he stole it!' `O yes,' said another, `let him down. He'll never tell us another lie, I'll warrant ye!' With this, one of the company untied the old man, and bid him go about his business.

The old man left, but the company remained as much as an hour, scouring the woods. Round and round they went, turning up the underbrush, and peering about like so many bloodhounds. Two or three times they came within six feet of where I lay. I tell you I held my stick with a firmer grasp than I did in coming up to your house to-night. I expected to level one of them at least. Fortunately, however, I eluded their pursuit, and they left me alone in the woods.

"My last dollar was now gone, and you may well suppose I felt the loss of it; but the thought of being again free to pursue my journey, prevented that depression which a sense of destitution causes; so swinging my little bundle on my back, I caught a glimpse of the Great Bear (which ever points the way to my beloved star,) and I started again on my journey. What I lost in money I made up at a hen-roost that same night, upon which I fortunately came."

"But you didn't eat your food raw? How did you cook it?" said Mrs. Listwell.

"O no, Madam," said Madison, turning to his little bundle; -- "I had the means of cooking." Here he took out of his bundle an old fashioned tinderbox, and taking up a piece of a file, which he brought with him, he struck it with a heavy flint, and brought out at least a dozen sparks at once. "I have had this old box," said he, "more than five years. It is the only property saved from the fire in the dismal swamp. It had done me good service. It has given me the means of broiling many a chicken!"

It seemed quite a relief to Mrs. Listwell to know that Madison had, at least, lived upon cooked food. Women have a perfect horror of eating uncooked food.

By this time thoughts of what was best to be done about getting Madison to Canada, began to trouble Mr. Listwell; for the laws of Ohio were very stringent against any one who should aid, or who were found aiding a slave to escape through that State. A citizen, for the simple act of taking a fugitive slave in his carriage, had just been stripped of all his property, and thrown penniless upon the world. Notwithstanding this, Mr. Listwell was determined to see Madison safely on his way to Canada. "Give yourself no uneasiness," said he to Madison, "for if it cost my farm, I shall see you safely out of the States, and on your way


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to the land of liberty. Thank God that there is such a land so near us! You will spend to-morrow with us, and to-morrow night I will take you in my carriage to the Lake. Once upon that, and you are safe."

"Thank you! thank you," said the fugitive; "I will commit myself to your care."

For the first time during five years, Madison enjoyed the luxury of resting his limbs on a comfortable bed, and inside a human habitation. Looking at the white sheets he said to Mr. Listwell, "What, sir! you don't mean that I shall sleep in that bed?"

"Oh yes, oh yes."

After Mr. Listwell left the room, Madison said he really hesitated whether or not he should lie on the floor; for that was far more comfortable and inviting than any bed to which he had been used.

We pass over the thoughts and feelings, the hopes and fears, the plans and purposes, that revolved in the mind of Madison during the day that he was secreted at the house of Mr. Listwell. The readers will be content to know that nothing occurred to endanger his liberty, or to excite alarm. Many were the little attentions bestowed upon him in his quiet retreat and hiding-place. In the evening, Mr. Listwell, after treating Madison to a new suit of winter clothes, and replenishing his exhausted purse with five dollars, all in silver, brought out his two-horse wagon, well provided with buffaloes, and silently started off with him to Cleveland. They arrived there without interruption, a few minutes before sunrise the next morning. Fortunately the steamer Admiral lay at the wharf, and was to start for Canada at nine o'clock. Here the last anticipated danger was surmounted. It was feared that just at this point the hunters of men might be on the look-out, and, possibly pounce upon their victim. Mr. Listwell saw the captain of the boat; cautiously sounded him on the matter of carrying liberty-loving passengers, before he introduced his precious charge. This done, Madison was conducted on board. With usual generosity this true subject of the emancipating queen welcomed Madison, and assured him that he should be safely landed in Canada, free of charge. Madison now felt himself no more a piece of merchandise, but a passenger, and, like any other passenger, going about his business, carrying with him what belonged to him, and nothing which rightfully belonged to anybody else.

Wrapped in his new winter suit, snug and comfortable, a pocket full of silver, safe from his pursuers, embarked for a free country, Madison gave every sign of sincere gratitude, and bade his kind benefactor farewell, with such a grip of the hand as bespoke a heart full of honest manliness, and a soul that knew how to appreciate kindness. It need scarcely be said that Mr. Listwell was deeply moved by the gratitude and friendship he had excited in a nature so noble as that of the fugitive. He went to his home that day with a joy and gratification which knew no bounds. He had done something "to deliver the spoiled out of the hands of the spoiler," he had given bread to the hungry, and clothes to the naked; he had befriended a man to whom the laws of his country forbade all friendship, -- and in proportion to the odds against his righteous deed, was the delightful satisfaction that gladdened his heart. On reaching home, he exclaimed, "He is safe, -- he


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is safe, -- he is safe," -- and the cup of his joy was shared by his excellent lady. The following letter was received from Madison a few days after.

Windsor, Canada West, Dec. 16, 1840.

My dear Friend, -- for such you truly are: --

Madison is out to the woods at last; I nestle in the mane of the British lion, protected by the mighty paw from the talons and the beak of the American eagle. I AM FREE, and breathe an atmosphere too pure for slaves, slave-hunters, or slave-holders. My heart is full. As many thanks to you, sir, and to your kind lady, as there are pebbles on the shores of Lake Erie; and may the blessing of God rest upon you both. You will never be forgotten by your profoundly grateful friend.

Madison Washington.

PART III.


-- His head was with his heart,
And that was far away!
Childe Harold.

Just upon the edge of the great road from Petersburg, Virginia, to Richmond, and only about fifteen miles from the latter place, there stands a somewhat ancient and famous public tavern, quite notorious in its better days, as being the grand resort for most of the leading gamblers, horse-racers, cock-fighters, and slave-traders from all the country round about. This old rookery, the nucleus of all sorts of birds, mostly those of ill omen, has, like everything else peculiar to Virginia, lost much of its ancient consequence and splendor; yet it keeps up some appearance of gaiety and high life, and is still frequented, even by respectable travellers, who are unacquainted with its past history and present condition. Its fine old portico looks well at a distance, and gives the building an air of grandeur. A nearer view, however, does little to sustain this pretension. The house is large, and its style imposing, but time and dissipation, unfailing in their results, have made ineffaceable marks upon it, and it must, in the common course of events, soon be numbered with the things that were. The gloomy mantle of ruin is, already, outspread to envelop it, and its remains, even but now remind one of a human skull, after the flesh has mingled with the earth. Old hats and rags fill the places in the upper windows once occupied by large panes of glass, and the molding boards along the roofing have dropped off from their places, leaving holes and crevices in the rented wall for hats and swallows to build their nests in. The platform of the portico, which fronts the highway is a rickety affair, its planks are loose, and in some places entirely gone, leaving effective mantraps in their stead for nocturnal ramblers. The wooden pillars, which once supported it, but which now hang as encumbrances, are all rotten, and tremble with the touch. A part of the stable, a fine old structure in its day, which has given comfortable shelter to hundreds of the noblest steeds of "the Old Dominion" at once, was blown down many years ago, and never has been, and probably never will be rebuilt. The doors of the barn are in wretched condition; they will shut with a little human strength to help their worn out hinges,


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but not otherwise. The side of the great building seen from the road is much discolored in sundry places by slops poured from the upper windows, rendering it unsightly and offensive in other respects. Three or four great dogs, looking as dull and gloomy as the mansion itself, lie stretched out along the door-sills under the portico; and double the number of loafers, some of them completely rum-ripe, and others ripening, dispose themselves like so many sentinels about the front of the house. These latter understand the science of scraping acquaintance to perfection. They know every-body, and almost every-body knows them. Of course, as their title implies, they have no regular employment. They are (to use an expressive phrase) hangers-on, or still better, they are what sailors would denominate holder-on to the slack, in every-body's mess, and in nobody's watch. They are, however, as good as the newspaper for the events of the day, and they sell their knowledge almost as cheap. Money they seldom have; yet they always have capital the most reliable. They make their way with a succeeding traveller by intelligence gained from a preceding one. All the great names of Virginia they know by heart, and have seen their owners often. The history of the house is folded in their lips, and they rattle off stories in connection with it, equal to the guides at Dryburgh Abbey. He must be a shrewd man, and well skilled in the art of evasion, who gets out of the hands of these fellows without being at the expense of a treat.

It was at this old tavern, while on a second visit to the State of Virginia in 1841, that Mr. Listwell, unacquainted with the fame of the place, turned aside, about sunset, to pass the night. Riding up to the house, he had scarcely dismounted, when one of the half dozen bar-room fraternity met and addressed him in a manner exceedingly bland and accommodating.

"Fine evening, sir."

"Very fine," said Mr. Listwell. "This is a tavern, I believe?"

"O yes, sir, yes; although you may think it looks a little the worse for wear, it was once as good a house as any in Virginy. I make no doubt if ye spend the night here, you'll think it a good house yet; for there aint a more accommodating man in the country than you'll find the landlord."

Listwell. "The most I want is a good bed for myself, and a full manger for my horse. If I get these, I shall be quite satisfied."

Loafer. "Well, I alloys like to hear a gentleman talk for his horse; and just because the horse can't talk for itself. A man that don't care about his beast, and don't look after it when he's travelling, aint much in my eye nay how. Now, sir, I likes a horse, and I'll guarantee your horse will be taken good care on here. That old stable, for all you see it looks so shabby now, once sheltered the great Eclipse, when he run here again Batchelor and Jumping Jenny. Them was fast horses, but he beat 'em both."

Listwell. "Indeed."

Loafer. "Well I rather reckon you've travelled a right smart distance to-day, from the look of your horse?"

Listwell. "Forty miles only."

Loafer. "Well! I'll be darned if that aint a pretty good only. Mister, that beast of yours is a singed cat, I warrant you. I never see'd a creature like that that wasn't good on the road. You've come about forty miles, then?"


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Listwell. "Yes, yes, and a pretty good pace at that."

Loafer. "You're somewhat in a hurry, then, I make no doubt? I reckon I could guess if I would, what you're going to Richmond for? It wouldn't be much of a guess either; for it's rumored hereabouts, that there's to be the greatest sale of N -- s at Richmond to-morrow that has taken place there in a long time; and I'll be bound you're a going there to have a hand in it."

Listwell. "Why, you must think, then, that there's money to be made at that business?"

Loafer. "Well, 'pon my honor, sir, I never made any that way myself; but it stands to reason that it's a money making business; for almost all other business in Virginia is dropped to engage in this. One thing is sartain, I never see'd a n -- r-buyer yet that hadn't a plenty of money, and he wasn't as free with it as water. I has known one on'em to treat as high as twenty times in a night; and, generally speaking, they's men of edication, and knows all about the government. The fact is, sir, I alloys like to hear 'em talk, becase I alloys can learn something from them."

Listwell. "What may I call your name, sir?"

Loafer. "Well, now, they calls me Wilkes. I'm known all around all the gentlemen that comes here. They all knows old Wilkes."

Listwell. "Well, Wilkes, you seem to be accquainted here, and I see you have a strong liking for a horse. Be so good as to speak a kind word for mine to the hostler to-night, and you'll not lose anything by it."

Loafer. "Well, sir, I see you don't say much, but you've got an insight into things. It's alloys wise to get the good will of them that's acquainted about a tavern; for a man don't know when he goes into a house what may happen, or how much he may need a friend." Here the loafer gave Mr. Listwell a significant grin, which expressed a sort of triumphant pleasure at having, as he supposed, by his tact succeeded in placing so fine appearing a gentleman under obligations to him.

The pleasure, however, was mutual; for there was something so insinuating in the glance of this loquacious customer, that Mr. Listwell was very glad to get quit of him, and to do so more successfully, he ordered his supper to be brought to him in his private room, private to the eye, but not to the ear. This room was directly over the bar, and the plastering being off, nothing but pine boards and naked laths separated him from the disagreeable company below, -- he could easily hear what was said in the bar-room, and was rather glad of the advantage it afforded, for, as you shall see, it furnished him important hints as to the manner and deportment he should assume during his stay at that tavern.

Mr. Listwell says he had got into his room but a few moments, when he heard the officious Wilkes below, in a tone of disappointment, exclaim, "Whar's that gentleman?" Wilkes was evidently expecting to meet with his friend at the bar-room, on his return, and had no doubt of his doing the handsome thing. "He has gone to his room," answered the landlord, "and has ordered his supper to be brought to him."

Here some one shouted out, "Who is he, Wilkes? Where's he going?"

"Well, now, I'll be hanged if I know; but I'm willing to make any man a bet of this old hat against a five dollar bill, that that gent is as full of money as a dog


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is of fleas. He's going down to Richmond to buy n -- s, I make no doubt. He's no fool, I warrant ye."

"Well, he acts d -- d strange," said another, "anyhow. I likes to see a man, when he comes up to a tavern, to come straight into the bar-room, and show that he's a man among men. Nobody was going to bite him."

"Now, I don't blame him a bit for not coming in here. That man knows his business, and means to take care on his money," answered Wilkes.

"Wilkes, you're a fool. You only say that, because you hope to get a few coppers out of him."

"You only measure my corn by your half-bushel, I won't say that you're only mad because I got the chance of speaking to him first."

"O Wilkes! you're known here. You'll praise up anybody that will give you a copper; besides, 'tis my opinion that that fellow who took his long slab-sides up stairs, for all the world just like a half-scared woman, afraid to look honest men in the face, is a Northerner, and as mean as dish-water."

"Now what will you bet of that," said Wilkes. The speaker said, "I make no bets with you, 'case you can get that fellow upstairs there to say anything."

"Well," said Wilkes, "I am willing to bet any man in the company that that gentleman is a n -- r-buyer. He didn't tell me so right down, but I reckon I knows enough about men to give a pretty clean guess as to what they are arter."

The dispute as to who Mr. Listwell was, what his business, where he was going, etc., was kept up with much animation for some time, and more than once threatened a serious disturbance of the peace. Wilkes had his friends as well as his opponents. After this sharp debate, the company amused themselves by drinking whiskey, and telling stories. The latter consisting of quarrels, fights, rencontres, and duels, in which distinguished persons of that neighborhood, and frequenters of that house, had been actors. Some of these stories were frightful enough, and were told, too, with a relish which bespoke the pleasure of the parties with the horrid scenes they portrayed. It would not be proper here to give the reader any idea of the vulgarity and dark profanity which rolled, as "a sweet morsel," under these corrupt tongues. A more brutal set of creatures, perhaps, never congregated.

Disgusted, and a little alarmed withal, Mr. Listwell, who was not accustomed to such entertainment, at length retired, but not to sleep. He was too much wrought upon by what he had heard to rest quietly, and what snatches of sleep he got, were interrupted by dreams which were anything than pleasant. At eleven o'clock, there seemed to be several hundreds of persons crowding into the house. A loud and confused clamor, cursing and cracking of whips, and the noise of chains startled him from his bed; for a moment he would have given the half of his farm in Ohio to have been at home. This uproar was kept up with undulating course, till near morning. There was loud laughing -- loud singing -- loud cursing -- and yet there seemed to be weeping and mourning in the midst of all. Mr. Listwell said had heard enough during the forepart of the night to convince him that a buyer of men and women stood the best chance of being respected. And he, therefore, thought it best to say nothing which might undo the favorable opinion that had been formed of him in the bar-room by at least one of the


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fraternity that swarmed about it. While he would not avow himself a purchaser of slaves, he deemed it not prudent to disavow it. He felt that he might, properly, refuse to cast such a pearl before parties which, to him, were worse than swine. To reveal himself, and to impart a knowledge of his real character and sentiments would, to say the least, be imparting intelligence with the certainty of seeing it and himself both abused. Mr. Listwell confesses, that this reasoning did not altogether satisfy his conscience, for, hating slavery as he did, and regarding it to be the immediate duty of every man to cry out against it, "without compromise and without concealment," it was hard for him to admit to himself the possibility of circumstances wherein a man might, properly, hold his tongue on the subject. Having as little of the spirit of a martyr as Erasmus, he concluded, like the latter, that it was wiser to trust to the mercy of God for his soul, than the humanity of the slave-trader for his body. Bodily fear, not conscientious scruples, prevailed.

In this spirit he rose early in the morning, manifesting no surprise at what he had heard during the night. His quondam friend was soon at his elbow, boring him with all sorts of questions. All, however, directed to find out his character, business, residence, purposes, and destination. With the most perfect appearance of good nature and carelessness, Mr. Listwell evaded these meddlesome inquiries, and turned conversation to general topics, leaving himself and all that specially pertained to him, out of discussion. Disengaging himself from their troublesome companionship, he made his way towards an old bowling-alley, which was connected with the house, and which, like all the rest, was in very bad repair.

On reaching the alley Mr. Listwell saw for the first time in his life, a slavegang on their way to market. A sad sight truly. Here were one hundred and thirty human beings, -- children of a common Creator -- guilty of no crime -- men and women, with hearts, minds, and deathless spirits, chained and fettered, and bound for the market, in a Christian country, -- in a country boasting of its liberty, independence, and high civilization! Humanity converted into merchandise, and linked in iron bands, with no regard to decency or humanity! All sizes, ages, and sexes, mothers, fathers, daughters, brothers, sisters, -- all huddled together, on their way to market to be sold and separated from home, and from each other forever. And all to fill the pockets of men too lazy to work for an honest living, and who gain their fortune by plundering the helpless, and trafficking in the souls and sinews of men. As he gazed upon this revolting and heart-rending scene, our informant said he almost doubted the existence of a God of justice! And he stood wondering that the earth did not open and swallow up such wickedness.

In the midst of these reflections, and while running his eye up and down the fettered ranks, he met the glance of one whose face he thought he had seen before. To be resolved, he moved towards the spot. It was MADISON WASHINGTON! Here was a scene for the pencil! Had Mr. Listwell been confronted by one risen from the dead, he could not have been more appalled. He was completely stunned. A thunderbolt could not have struck him more dumb. He stood, for a few moments as motionless as one petrified; collecting himself, he at length exclaimed, "Madison! is that you?"


-- 238 --

The noble fugitive, but little less astonished than himself, answered cheerily, "O yes, sir, they've got me again."

Thoughtless of consequences for the moment, Mr. Listwell ran up to his old friend, placing his hands upon his shoulders, and looked him in the face! Speechless they stood gazing at each other as if to be doubly resolved that there was no mistake about the matter, till Madison motioned his friend away, intimating a fear lest the keepers should find him there, and suspect him of tampering with the slaves.

"They will soon be out to look after us. You can come when they go to breakfast, and I will tell you all."

Pleased with this arrangement, Mr. Listwell passed out of the alley; but only just in time to save himself, for, while near the door, he observed three men making their way to the alley. The thought occurred to him to await their arrival, as the best means of diverting the ever ready suspicions of the guilty.

While the scene between Mr. Listwell and his friend Madison was going on, the other slaves stood as mute spectators, -- at a loss to know what all this could mean. As he left, he heard the man chained to Madison ask, "Who is that gentleman?"

"He is a friend of mine. I cannot tell you now. Suffice it to say he is a friend. You shall hear more of him before long, but mark me! whatever shall pass between that gentleman and me, in your hearing, I pray you will say nothing about it. We are chained here together, -- ours is a common lot; and that gentleman is not less your friend than mine." At these words, all mysterious as they were, the unhappy company gave signs of satisfaction and hope. It seems that variable accompaniment of genius, had already won the confidence of the gang and was sort of general-in-chief among them.

By this time the keepers arrived. A horrid trio, well fitted for their demoniacal work. Their uncombed hair came down over foreheads "villainously low," and with eyes, mouths, and noses to match. "Hello! hallo!" they growled out as they entered, "Are you all there!"

"All there," said Madison.

"Well, well, that's right! your journey will soon be over. You'll be in Richmond by eleven to-day, and then you'll have an easy time on it."

"I say, gal, what in the devil are you crying about?" said one of them. I'll give you something to cry about, if you don't mind." This was said to a girl, apparently not more than twelve years old, who had been weeping bitterly. She had, probably, left behind her loving mother, affectionate sisters, brothers, and friends, and her tears were but the natural expression of her sorrow, and the only solace. But the dealers in human flesh have no respect for such sorrow. They look upon it as a protest against their cruel injustice, and they are prompt to punish it.

This is a puzzle not easily solved. How came he here? what can I do for him? may I not even now be in some way compromised in this affair? were thoughts that troubled Mr. Listwell, and made him eager for the promised opportunity of speaking to Madison.

The bell now sounded for breakfast, and keepers and drivers, with pistols and bowie-knives gleaming from their belts, hurried in, as if to get the best places.


-- 239 --
Taking the chance now afforded, Mr. Listwell hastened back to the bowling-alley. Reaching Madison, he said, "Now do tell me all about the matter. Do you know me?"

"Oh, yes," said Madison, "I know you well, and shall never forget you nor that cold and dreary night you gave me shelter. I must be short," he continued, "for they'll soon be out again. This, then, is the story in brief. On reaching Canada, and getting over the excitement of making my escape; sir, my thoughts turned to my poor wife, who had well deserved my love by her virtuous fidelity and undying affection for me. I could not bear the thought of leaving her in the cruel jaws of slavery, without making an effort to rescue her. First, I tried to get money to her; but oh! the process was too slow. I despaired of accomplishing it. She was in all my thoughts by day, and my dreams by night. At times I could almost hear her voice, saying, `O Madison! Madison! will you then leave me here? can you leave me here to die? No! no! you will come! you will come!' I was wretched. I lost my appetite. I could neither work, eat, nor sleep, till I resolved to hazard my own liberty, to gain that of my wife! But I must be short. Six weeks ago I reached my old master's place. I laid about the neighborhood nearly a week, watching my chance, and, finally, I ventured upon the desperate attempt to reach the window, but the noise in raising it frightened my wife, and she screamed and fainted. I took her in my arms, and was descending the ladder, when the dog began to bark furiously, and before I could get to the woods the white folks were roused. The cool night air soon restored my wife, and she readily recognized me. We made the best of our way to the woods, but it was now too late, -- the dogs were after us as though they would have torn us to pieces. It was all over with me now! My old master and his two sons ran out with loaded rifles, and before we were out of gunshot, our ears were assailed with `Stop! stop! or be shot down.' Nevertheless we ran on. Seeing that we gave no heed to their call, they fired, and my poor wife fell by my side dead, while I received but a slight flesh wound. I now became desperate, and stood my ground, and awaited their attack over her dead body. They rushed upon me, with their rifles in hand. I parried their blows, and fought them till I was knocked down and overpowered."

"Oh! it was madness to have returned," said Mr. Listwell.

"Sir, I could not be free with the galling thought that my poor wife was still a slave. With her in slavery, my body, not my spirit, was free. I was taken to the house, -- chained to a ring-bolt, -- my wounds dressed. I was kept there three days. All slaves, for miles around, were brought to see me. Many slave-holders came with their slaves, using me as proof of the completeness of their power, and of the impossibility of slaves getting away. I was taunted, jeered at, and berated by them, in a manner that pierced me to the soul. Thank God, I was able to smother my rage, and to bear it all with seeming composure. After my wounds were nearly healed, I was taken to a tree and stripped, and I received sixty lashes on my naked back. A few days after, I was sold to a slave-trader, and placed in this gang for the New Orleans market."

"Do you think your master would sell you to me?"

"O no, sir! I was sold on condition of my being taken South. Their motive is revenge."


-- 240 --

"Then, then," said Mr. Listwell, "I fear I can do nothing for you. Put your trust in God, and bear your sad lot with the manly fortitude which becomes a man. I shall see you at Richmond, but don't recognize me." Saying this, Mr. Listwell handed Madison ten dollars; said a few words to the other slaves; received their hearty "God bless you," and made his way to the house.

Fearful of exciting suspicion by too long delay, our friend went to the breakfast table, with the aid of one who half reproved the greediness of those who rushed in at the sound of the bell. A cup of coffee was all that he could manage. His feelings were too bitter and excited, and his heart was too full with the fate of poor Madison (whom he loved as well as admired) to relish his breakfast; and although he sat long after the company had left the table, he really did little more than change the position of his knife and fork. The strangeness of meeting again one whom he had met on two several occasions before, under extraordinary circumstances, was well calculated to suggest the idea that a supernatural power, a wakeful providence, or an inexorable fate, had linked their destiny together; and that no efforts of his could disentangle him from the mysterious web of circumstances which enfolded him.

On leaving the table, Mr. Listwell nerved himself up and walked firmly into the bar-room. He was at once greeted again by that talkative chatter-box, Mr. Wilkes.

"Them's a likely set of n -- s in the alley there," said Wilkes.

"Yes, they're fine looking fellows, one of them I should like to purchase, and for him I would be willing to give a handsome sum."

Turning to one of his comrades, and with a grin of victory, Wilkes said, "Aha, Bill, did you hear that? I told you I know'd that gentleman wanted to buy n -- s, and would bid as high as any purchaser in the market."

"Come, come," said Listwell, "don't be too loud in your praise, you are old enough to know that prices rise when purchasers are plenty."

"That's a fact," said Wilkes, "I see you knows the ropes -- and there's not a man in old Virginy whom I'd rather help to make a good bargain than you, sir."

"Mr. Listwell here threw a dollar at Wilkes, (which the latter caught with a dexterous hand,) saying, "Take that for your kind good will." Wilkes held up the dollar to his right eye, with a grin of victory, and turned to the morose grumbler in the corner who had questioned the liberality of a man of whom he knew nothing.

Mr. Listwell now stood as well with the company as any other occupant of the bar-room.

We pass over the hurry and bustle, the brutal vociferations of the slave-drivers in getting their unhappy gang in motion for Richmond; and we need not narrate every application of the lash to those who faltered in the journey. Mr. Listwell followed the train at a long distance, with a sad heart; and on reaching Richmond, left his horse at a hotel, and made his way to the wharf in the direction of which he saw the slave-coffle driven. He was just in time to see the whole company embark for New Orleans. The thought struck him that, while mixing with the multitude, he might do his friend Madison one last service, and he stept into a hardware store and purchased three strong files. These he took with him,


-- 241 --
standing near the small boat, which lay in waiting to bear the company by parcels to the side of the brig that lay in the stream, he managed, as Madison passed him, to slip the files into his pocket, and at once darted back among the crowd.

All the company now on board, the imperious voice of the captain sounded, and instantly a dozen hardy seamen were in the rigging, hurrying aloft to unfurl the broad canvas of our Baltimore-built American Slaver. The sailors hung about the ropes, like so many black cats, now in the round-tops, now in the cross-trees, now on the yard-arms; all was bluster and activity. Soon the broad fore topsail, the royal and top gallant sail were spread to the breeze. Round went the heavy windlass, clank, clank went the fall-bit, -- the anchors weighed, -- jibs, mainsails, and topsails hauled it to the wind, and the long, low, black slaver, with her cargo of human flesh, careened and moved forward to the sea. 93

Mr. Listwell stood on the shore, and watched the slaver till the last speck of her upper sails faded from sight, and announced the limit of human vision. "Farewell! farewell! brave and true man! God grant that brighter skies may smile upon your future than have yet looked down upon your thorny pathway."

Saying this to himself, our friend lost no time in completing his business, and in making his way homewards, gladly shaking off from his feet the dust of Old Virginia.

PART IV.


Oh, where's the slave so lowly
Condemn'd to chains unholy,
Who could he burst
His bonds at first
Would pine beneath them slowly?
-- Moore
-- Know ye not
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.
-- Childe Harold

What a world of inconsistency, as well as of wickedness, is suggested by the smooth and gliding phrase, American Slave Trade; and how strange and perverse is that moral sentiment which loathes, execrates, and brands as piracy and as deserving of death the carrying away into captivity men, women, and children from the African coast; but which is neither shocked nor disturbed by a similar traffic, carried on with the same motives and purposes, and characterized by even more odious peculiarities on the coast of our MODEL REPUBLIC. We execrate and hang the wretch guilty of this crime on the coast of Guinea, while we respect and applaud the guilty participators in this murderous business on the enlightened shores of the Chesapeake. The inconsistency is so flagrant and glaring, that it would seem to cast a doubt on the doctrine of the innate moral sense of mankind.

Just two months after the sailing of the Virginia slave brig, which the reader has seen move off to sea so proudly with her human cargo for the New Orleans market, there chanced to meet, in the Marine Coffee-house at Richmond, a company


-- 242 --
of ocean birds, when the following conversation, which throws some light on the subsequent history, not only of Madison Washington, but of the hundred and thirty human beings with whom we last saw him chained.

"I say, shipmate, you had rather rough weather on your late passage to Orleans?" said Jack Williams, a regular old salt, tauntingly, to a trim, compact, manly looking person, who proved to be the first mate of the slave brig in question.

"Foul play, as well as foul weather," replied the firmly knit personage, evidently but little inclined to enter upon a subject which terminated so ingloriously to the captain and officers of the American slaver.

"Well, betwixt you and me," said Williams, "that whole affair on board of the Creole was miserably and disgracefully managed. Those black rascals got the upper hand of ye altogether; and, in my opinion, the whole disaster was the result of ignorance of the real character of darkies in general. With half a dozen resolute white men, (I say it not boastingly,) I could have had the rascals in irons in ten minutes, not because I'm so strong, but I know how to manage 'em. With my back against the caboose, I could, myself, have flogged a dozen of them; and had I been on board, by every monster of the deep, every black devil of 'em all would have had his neck stretched from the yard-arm. Ye made a mistake in yer manner of fiting 'em. All that is needed in dealing with a set of rebellious darkies, is to show that ye're not afraid of 'em. For my own part, I would not honor a dozen n -- s, by pointing a gun at one on 'em, -- a good stout whip, or a stiff rope's end, is better than all the guns at Old Point to quell a n -- r insurrection. Why, sir, to take a gun to a n -- r is the best way you can select to tell him you are afraid of him, and the best way of inviting his attack."

This speech made made quite a sensation among the company, and a part of them indicated solicitude for the answer which might be made to it. Our first mate replied, "Mr. Williams, all that you've now said sounds very well here on shore, where, perhaps, you have studied Negro character. I do not profess to understand the subject as well as yourself; but it strikes me, you apply the same rule in dissimilar cases. It is quite easy to talk of flogging n -- s here on land, where you have the sympathy of the community, and the whole physical force of the government, State and national, at your command, and where, if a Negro shall lift his hand against a white man, the whole community, with one accord, are ready to unite in shooting him down. I say, in such circumstances, it's easy to talk of flogging Negroes and of Negro cowardice; but, sir, I deny that the Negro is, naturally, a coward, or that your theory of managing slaves will stand the test of salt water. It may do very well for an overseer, a contemptible hireling, to take advantage of fears already in existence, and which his presence has no power to inspire; to swagger about whip in hand, and discourse on the timidity and cowardice of Negroes; for they have a smooth sea and fair wind. It is one thing to manage a company of slaves on a Virginia plantation, and quite another thing to quell an insurrection on the lonely billows of the Atlantic, where every breeze speaks of courage and liberty. For the Negro to act cowardly on shore, may be to act wisely; and I've some doubts whether you, Mr. Williams, would find it very convenient were you a slave in Algiers, to raise your hand against the bayonets of a whole government."


-- 243 --

"By George, shipmates," said Williams, "you're coming rather too near. Either I've fallen very low in your estimation, or your notions of Negro courage have got up a button-hole too high. Now I more than ever wish I'd been on board of that luckless craft. I'd have given ye practical evidence of the truth of my theory. I don't doubt there's some difference in being at sea. But a n -- r's a n -- r, on sea or land, and is a coward, find him where you will; a drop of blood from one on 'em will skeer a hundred. A knock on the nose, or a kick on the shin, will tame the wildest `darkey' you can fetch me. I say again, and will stand by it, I could, with half a dozen men, put the whole nineteen on 'em in irons, and have carried them safe to New Orleans too. Mind, I don't blame you, but I do say, and every gentleman here will bear me out in it, that the fault was somewhere, or them n -- s would never have got off as they have done. For my part I feel ashamed to have the idea go abroad, that a ship load of slaves can't be safely taken from Richmond to New Orleans. I should like, merely to redeem the character of Virginia sailors, to take charge of a ship load on 'em to-morrow."

Williams went on in this strain, occasionally casting an imploring glance at the company for applause for his wit, and sympathy for his contempt of Negro courage. He had, evidently, however, waked up the wrong passenger; for besides being in the right, his opponent carried that in his eye which marked him a man not to be trifled with.

"Well, sir," said the sturdy mate, "You can select your own method for distinguishing yourself; -- the path of ambition in this direction is quite open to you in Virginia, and I've no doubt that you will be highly appreciated and compensated for all your valiant achievements in that line; but for myself, while I do not profess to be a giant, I have resolved never to set my foot on the deck of a slave ship, either as officer, or common sailor again; I have got enough of it."

"Indeed! indeed!" exclaimed Williams, derisively.

"Yes, indeed," echoed the mate, "but don't misunderstand me. It is not the high value that I set upon my life that makes me say what I have said; yet I'm resolved never to endanger my life again in a cause which my conscience does not approve. I dare say here what many men feel, but dare not speak, that this whole slave-trading business is a disgrace and scandal to Old Virginia."

"Hold! hold on! shipmate," said Williams, "I hardly thought you'd have shown your colors so soon, -- I'll be hanged if you're not as good an abolitionist as Garrison himself."

The mate now rose from his chair, manifesting some excitement. "What do you mean, sir," said he, in a commanding tone. "That man does not live who shall offer me an insult with impunity."

The effect of these words was marked; and the company clustered around. Williams, in an apologetic tone, said, "Shipmate! keep you temper. I meant no insult. We all know that Tom Grant is no coward, and what I said about you being an abolitionist was simply this: you might have put down them black mutineers and murderers, but your conscience held you back."

"In that, too," said Grant, "you were mistaken. I did all that any man with equal strength and presence of mind could have done. The fact is, Mr. Williams,


-- 244 --
you underrate the courage as well as the skill of these Negroes, and further, you do not seem to have been correctly informed about the case in hand at all."

"All I know about it is," said Williams, "that on the ninth day after you left Richmond, a dozen or two of the n -- s ye had on board, came on deck and took the ship from you; -- had her steered into a British port, where, by the by, every woolly head of them went ashore and was free. Now I take this to be a discreditable piece of business, and one demanding explanation."

"There are a great many discreditable things in the world," said Grant. "For a ship to go down under a calm sky is, upon the first flush of it, disgraceful either to sailors or caulkers. But when we learn, that by some mysterious disturbance in nature, the waters parted beneath, and swallowed the ship up, we lose our indignation and disgust in lamentation of the disaster, and in awe of the Power which controls the elements."

"Very true, very true," said Williams, "I should be very glad to have an explanation which would relieve the affair of its present discreditable features. I have desired to see you ever since you got home, and to learn from you a full statement of the facts in the case. To me the whole thing seems unaccountable. I cannot see how a dozen or two of ignorant Negroes, not one of whom had ever been to sea before, and all of them were closely ironed between decks should be able to get their fetters off, rush out of the hatchway in open daylight, kill two white men, the one the captain and the other their master, and then carry the ship into a British port, where every `darkey' of them was set free. There must have been great carelessness, or cowardice somewhere!"

The company which had listened in silence during most of this discussion, now became much excited. One said, I agree with Williams; and several said the thing looks black enough. After the temporary tumultous exclamations had subsided, --

"I see," said Grant, "how you regard this case, and how difficult it will be for me to render our ship's company blameless in your eyes. Nevertheless, I will state the facts precisely as they came under my own observation. Mr. Williams speaks of `ignorant Negroes,' and, as a general rule, they are ignorant; but had he been on board the Creole as I was, he would have seen cause to admit that there are exceptions to this general rule. The leader of the mutiny in question was just as shrewd a fellow as ever I met in my life, and was as well fitted to lead in a dangerous enterprise as any one white man in ten thousand. The name of this man, strange to say, (ominous of greatness,) was MADISON WASHINGTON. In the short time he had been on board, he had secured the confidence of every officer. The Negroes fairly worshipped him. His manner and bearing were such, that no one could suspect him of a murderous purpose. The only feeling with which we regarded him was, that he was a powerful, good-disposed Negro. He seldom spoke to anyone, and when he did speak, it was with the utmost propriety. His words were well chosen, and his pronunciation equal to that of any schoolmaster. It was a mystery to us where he got his knowledge of language; but as little was said to him, none of us knew the extent of his intelligence and ability till it was too late. It seems he brought three files with him on board, and must have gone to work upon his fetters the first night out; and he must have worked well at that; for on the day of the rising, he got the irons off eighteen besides himself.


-- 245 --

"The attack began just about twilight in the evening. Apprehending a squall, I had commanded the second mate to order all hands on deck to take in sail. A few minutes before this I had seen Madison's head above the hatchway, looking out upon the white-capped waves at the leeward. I think I never saw him look more good-natured. I stood just about midship, on the larboard side. The captain was pacing the quarterdeck on the starboard side, in company with Mr. Jameson, the owner of most of the slaves on board. Both were armed. I had just told the men to lay aloft, and was looking to see my orders obeyed, when I heard the discharge of a pistol on the starboard side; and turning suddenly around, the very deck seemed covered with fiends from the pit. The nineteen Negroes were all on deck, 94 with their broken fetters in their hands, rushing in all directions. I put my hand quickly in my pocket to draw out my jack-knife; but before I could draw it, I was knocked senseless to the deck. When I came to myself, (which I did in a few minutes, I suppose, for it was yet quite light), there was not a white man on deck. The sailors were all aloft in the rigging, and dared not come down. Captain Clarke and Mr. Jameson lay stretched on the quarter-deck, -- both dying, 95 -- while Madison himself stood at the helm unhurt.

"I was completely weakened by the loss of blood, and had not recovered from the stunning blow which felled me to the deck; but it was a little too much for me, even in my prostrate condition, to see our good brig commanded by a black murderer. So I called out to the men to come down and take the ship, or die in the attempt. Suiting the action to the word, I started aft. `You murderous villain,' said I, to the imp at the helm, and rushed upon him to deal him a blow, when he pushed me back with his strong, black arm, as though I had been a boy of twelve. I looked around for the men. They were still in the rigging. Not one had come down. I started towards Madison again. The rascal now told me to stand back. `Sir,' said he, `your life is in my hands. I could have killed you a dozen times over during this last half hour, and could kill you now. You call me a black murderer. I am not a murderer. God is my witness that LIBERTY, not malice, is the motive for this night's work. I have done no more to those dead men yonder, than they would have done to me in like circumstances. We have struck for our freedom, and if a true man's heart be in you, you will honor us for the deed. We have done that which you applaud your fathers for doing, and if we are murderers, so were they.'

"I felt little disposition to reply to this impudent speech. By heaven, it disarmed me. The fellow loomed up before me. I forgot his blackness in the dignity of his manner, and the eloquence of his speech. It seemed as if the souls of both the great dead (whose names he bore) had entered him. To the sailors in the rigging he said: `Men! the battle is over, -- your captain is dead. I have complete command of this vessel. All resistance to my authority will be in vain. My men have won their liberty, with no other weapons but their own Broken Fetters. We are nineteen in number. We do not thirst for your blood, we demand only our rightful freedom. Do not flatter yourselves that I am ignorant of chart or compass. I know both. We are now only about sixty miles from Nassau. Come down, and do your duty. Land us in Nassau, and not a hair of your heads shall be hurt.'

"I shouted, `Stay where you are, men, -- when a sturdy black fellow ran at me with a handspike, and would have split my head open, but for the interference


-- 246 --
of Madison, who darted between me and the blow. `I know what you are up to,' said the latter to me. `You want to navigate this brig into a slave port, where you would have us all hanged; but you'll miss it; before this brig shall touch a slave-cursed shore while I am on board, I will myself put a match to the magazine, and blow her, and be blown with her, into a thousand fragments. Now I have saved your life twice within these last twenty minutes, -- for, when you lay helpless on deck, my men were about to kill you. I held them in check. And if you now (seeing I am your friend and not your enemy) persist in your resistance to my authority, I give you fair warning, you Shall Die.'

"Saying this to me, he cast a glance into the rigging where the terror-stricken sailors were slinging, like so many frightened monkeys, and commanded them to come down, in a tone from which there was no appeal; for four men stood by with muskets in hand, ready at the word of command to shoot them down.

"I now became satisfied that resistance was out of the question; that my best policy was to put the brig into Nassau, and secure the assistance of the American consul at the port. I felt sure that the authorities would enable us to secure the murderers, and bring them to trial.

"By this time the apprehended squall had burst upon us. The wind howled furiously, -- the ocean was white with foam, which, on account of the darkness, we could see only by the quick flashes of lightning that darted occasionally from the angry sky. All was alarm and confusion. Hideous cries came up from the slave women. Above the roaring billows a succession of heavy thunder rolled along, swelling the terrific din. Owing to the great darkness, and a sudden shift of the wind, we found ourselves in the trough of the sea. When shipping a heavy sea over the starboard bow, the bodies of the captain and Mr. Jameson were washed overboard. For awhile we had dearer interests to look after than slave property. A more savage thunder-gust never swept the ocean. Our brig rolled and creaked as if every bolt would be started, and every thread of oakum would be pressed out of the seams. `To the pumps! to the pumps!' I cried, but not a sailor would quit his grasp. Fortunately this squall soon passed over, or we must have been food for sharks.

"During all the storm, Madison stood firmly at the helm, -- his keen eye fixed upon the binnacle. He was not indifferent to the dreadful hurricane; yet he met it with the equanimity of an old sailor. He was silent but not agitated. The first words he uttered after the storm had slightly subsided were characteristic of the man. `Mr. mate, you cannot write the bloody laws of slavery on those restless billows. The ocean, if not the land, is free.' I confess, gentlemen, I felt myself in the presence of a superior man; one who, had he been a white man, I would have followed willingly and gladly in any honorable enterprise. Our difference of color was the only ground for difference of action. It was not that his principles were wrong in the abstract; for they are the principles of 1776. But I could not bring myself to recognize their application to one whom I deemed my inferior.

"But to my story. What happened now is soon told. Two hours after the frightful tempest had spent itself, we were plump at the wharf in Nassau. I sent two of our men immediately to our consul with a statement of facts, requesting his interference in our behalf. What he did, or whether he did anything, I don't know; but, by order of the authorities, a company of black soldiers came on board, for the purpose, as they said, of protecting the property. These impudent


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rascals, when I called on them to assist me in keeping the slaves on board, sheltered themselves adroitly under the instructions only to protect property, -- and said they did not recognize persons as property. I told them that by the law of Virginia and the laws of the United States, the slaves on board were as much property as the barrels of flour in the hold. At this the stupid blockheads showed their ivory, rolled up their white eyes in horror, as if the idea of putting men on footing with merchandise was revolting to their humanity. When these instructions were understood among the Negroes, it was impossible for us to keep them on board. They deliberately gathered up their baggage before our eyes, and against our remonstrances, poured through the gangway, -- formed themselves into a procession on the wharf, -- bid farewell to all on board, and, uttering the wildest shouts of exultation, they marched, amidst the deafening cheers of a multitude of sympathizing spectators, under the triumphant leadership of their heroic chief and deliverer, Madison Washington." 96

Frederick Douglass

Autographs for Freedom, edited by Julia W. Griffiths, 1853, pp. 174 -- 238 97

The Black Swan, Alias Miss Elizabeth Greenfield
How mean, bitter, and malignant is prejudice against color! It is the most brainless, brutal, and inconsistent thing of which we know anything. It can dine heartily


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on dishes prepared by colored hands? It can drink heartily from the glass filled by colored hands? It can ride languishingly behind horses driven by colored hands? It can snooze soundly under a razor guided by colored hands! Finally, it can go to Metropolitan Hall, and listen with delight to the enchanting strains of a black woman! if in all those relations there be conditions acknowledging the inferiority of black people to white. This brainless and contemptible creature, neither man nor beast, caused the following particular notice to be placed on the placard, announcing the Concert of "The Black Swan" in Metropolitan Hall, New York:

"Particular Notice. -- No colored person can be admitted, as there is no part of the house appropriated for them."

We marvel that Miss Greenfield can allow herself to be treated with such palpable disrespect; for the insult is to her, not less than to her race.

She must have felt deep humiliation and depression while attempting to sing in the presence of an audience and under arrangements which had thus degraded and dishonored the people to which she belongs. -- Oh! that she could be a woman as well as a songstress -- brave and dauntless -- resolved to fall or flourish with her outraged race -- to scorn the mean propositions of the oppressor, and to refuse sternly to acquiesce in her own degradation. She is quite mistaken if she supposes that her success, as an artist depends upon her entire abandonment of self-respect. There are generous hearts enough in this country who, if she but lead the way, would extend to her the meed of praise and patronage commensurate with her merits. We warn her also, that this yielding, on her part, to the cowardly and contemptible exactions of the Negro haters of this country may meet her in a distant land in a manner which she little imagines.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, April 8, 1853

The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin
98
American Slavery, like every other form of wickedness, has a strong desire just to be let alone; and slaveholders, above all other preachers, to whom we ever listened, insist most strongly on the duty of every man's minding his own business. They are sure that to drag slavery out of its natural darkness, will only rivet the fetters more firmly on their slaves; still, they have very strong reasons against coming to the light. "Let us declare," said a Carolina journal, some years ago, "that the subject of slavery is not and shall not be open to discussion within our borders -- that the moment any preacher or private citizen shall attempt to enlighten us on that subject, his tongue shall be cut out and cast upon a dung hill!" Unlike Ajax, the cry is, give us but darkness, and slavery asks no more. "Mind your own business," said the late Mr. Clay to Mr. Mendenhall. "Look at home," said the amiable Mrs. Julia Gardner Ex-President John Tyler, of Virginia, to the Duchess of Sutherland.


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Well, there is a good deal in the idea of one's minding his own business; and we are not sure that, if that idea were fully carried out, it would not abolish slavery. -- Suppose every slaveholder should some day resolve to mind his own business, take care of his own concerns, be at the pains and industry of providing for his own wants with his own hands, or with the money obtained by his own energies -- and suppose he should say to his slaves, "follow my example, mind your own business, don't look after mine, but look after your own business in your own way" -- why, just here would be the end of slavery. Slaveholders preach to others this doctrine while they are themselves most grossly and scandalously intermeddling with the business of others to the utter neglect of their own.

It is noticeable, too, that the complaint of interference is never preferred against any of our sainted priesthood who bulwark the system with the gospel. These holy Doctors are held to be very properly employed. It is only your hot-headed men who think a "n -- r" has rights as well as a white man -- that a slave is as good as his master -- who are supposed to need counsel to mind their own business.

But to return. Slavery dreads exposure. The light, which strengthens other systems, weakens slavery; and slaveholders know this very well. The wonder is, that, knowing it so well, they do not more skilfully manage their affairs. It is surprising that they allow such fiendish advertisements to find their way into their public journals -- permit such bloody enactments to stain their statute books -- and, publicly, commit such shocking atrocities as fill the pages of the "Thousand Witnesses," and swell the volume of the "Key" to "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Some one should call attention to this unguarded point. How would it do, instead of advertising in the everywhere circulating newspaper for "blood-hounds to hunt slaves," "cash for Negroes," &c., to use small hand-bills for the purpose? These would not come North, telling their tales of misery on the one hand, and of deep wickedness on the other. Then, too, would it not be well to repeal most of the laws regulating the whipping, branding, ironing, shooting, stabbing, hanging and quartering, of slaves? Could not all these ends be attained without their being provided for in the statude book? Could not "the spirit" be retained without "the letter?" for it is "the letter" which, in this instance, is deadly -- while "the spirit" of these laws is the life of the system of slavery. We should not be surprised if some such suggestions prevailed at the South; for slavery cannot bear to be looked at. The slaveholder must become a madman, and forget the eyes of just men and of a just God, when he burns his name into the flesh of a woman.

Bold and incorrigible as slaveholders, generally, are, they are, nevertheless, far from being indifferent to the good opinions of their fellow-men. They are seldom found willing to acknowledge themselves cruel, or wanting at all in the sentiments of humanity. On the contrary, none are more anxious than they to be regarded as kind and humane. Hence, they are ever anticipating objections to the slave system, by asserting the mildness of the treatment of their slaves, the excellency of their condition and the quiet of their minds. The best of them, however, would find the presence, for any considerable time, of a Northern man of anti-slavery principles on their plantations, watching the intercourse between themselves and their contented and happy, unpaid laborers, very inconvenient and irksome! No. Masters should be seen apart from their slaves.


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They find it easier to commend slavery in its absence, than when confronted by its ugly features.

Willingly enough are these slaveholding gentlemen and ladies to be seen at Saratoga Springs, at Niagara, where they are arrayed in purple and fine linen, and are covered with silks, satins and broadcloth -- their hands shining with gold, and their bosoms sparkling with diamonds. Their manner is so genteel -- their conversation so winning -- their smiles are full of kindness, that they easily make their way, win friends, and conceal their abominations. But bring them out from their hiding place -- tear off the gold with which their sin is plated, and they stand out, by all the deductions of reason, morality, and religion, naked pirates before God and man, guilty of cruelty which might make a devil blush. Concealment, then, is the constant care of slaveholders. To see a slave speaking to a Northern man throws them into agony. So anxious are they to retain the secrets of the slave prison, that they denounce death against any in their midst who undertakes to reveal them.

But all efforts to conceal the enormity of slavery fail. The most unwise thing which, perhaps, was ever done by slaveholders, in order to hide the ugly features of slavery, was the calling in question, and denying the truthfulness of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." They had better have owned the "soft impeachment" therein contained -- for the "Key" not only proves the correctness of every essential part of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but proves more and worse things against the murderous system than are alleged in that great book. Since the publication of that repository of human horrors -- "The Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses" -- there has not been an exposure of slavery so terrible as the Key to "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Let it be circulated far and wide, at home and abroad; let young and old read it, think of it, and learn from it to hate slavery with unappeasable intensity. The book, then, will be not only a Key to "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but a key to unlock the prison-house for the deliverance of millions who are now pining in chains, crying, "How long! How long! O Lord God of Sabaoth! How long shall these things be?"

Frederick Douglass' Paper, April 29, 1853

The Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Negro People
Speech at annual meeting of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, New York City, May 11, 1853

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The resolution upon which I propose to make a few remarks, respects the present condition and future prospects of the whole colored people of the United States. The subject is a great one, and opens ample scope for thought and feeling. I feel a diffidence in undertaking the consideration for two causes: first, my own incompetence


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to do it justice; and the second is, the peculiar relation subsisting between me and the audience I am to address. Sir, I am a colored man, and this is a white audience. No colored man, with any nervous sensibility, can stand before an American audience without an intense and painful sense of the disadvantages imposed by his color. He feels little borne up by that brotherly sympathy and generous enthusiasm, which give wings to the eloquence, and strength to the hearts of other men, who advocate other and more popular causes. The ground which a colored man occupies in this country is, every inch of it, sternly disputed. Sir, were I a white man, speaking for the rights of white men, I should in this country have a smooth sea and a fair wind. It is, perhaps, creditable to the American people (and I am not the man to detract from their credit) that they listen eagerly to the report of wrongs endured by distant nations. The Hungarian, the Italian, the Irishman, the Jew and the Gentile, all find in this goodly land a home; and when any of them, or all of them, desire to speak, they find willing ears, warm hearts, and open hands. For these people, the Americans have principles of justice, maxims of mercy, sentiments of religion, and feelings of brotherhood in abundance. But for my poor people (alas, how poor!), enslaved, scourged, blasted, overwhelmed, and ruined, it would appear that America had neither justice, mercy, nor religion. She has no scales in which to weigh our wrongs, and no standard by which to measure our rights. Just here lies the grand difficulty of the colored man's cause. It is found in the fact, that we may not avail ourselves of the just force of admitted American principles. If I do not misinterpret the feelings and philosophy of my white fellow-countrymen generally, they wish us to understand distinctly and fully that they have no other use for us whatever, than to coin dollars out of our blood.

Our position here is anomalous, unequal, and extraordinary. It is a position to which the most courageous of our race can look without deep concern. Sir, we are a hopeful people, and in this we are fortunate: but for this trait of our character, we should have, long before this seemingly unpropitious hour, sunk down under a sense of utter despair.

Look at it, sir. Here, upon the soil of our birth, in a country which has known us for two centuries, among a people who did not wait for us to seek them, but who sought us, found us, and brought us to their own chosen land, a people for whom we have performed the humblest services, and whose greatest comforts and luxuries have been won from the soil by our sable and sinewy arms -- I say, sir, among such a people, and with such obvious recommendations to favor, we are far less esteemed than the veriest stranger and sojourner.

Aliens are we in our native land. The fundamental principles of the republic, to which the humblest white man, whether born here or elsewhere, may appeal with confidence in the hope of awakening a favorable response are held to be inapplicable to us. The glorious doctrines of your revolutionary fathers, and the more glorious teachings of the Son of God, are construed and applied against us. We are literally scourged beyond the beneficent range of both authorities, human and divine. We plead for our rights, in the name of the immortal Declaration of Independence, and of the written constitution of government, and we are answered with imprecations and curses. In the sacred name of Jesus we beg for mercy, and the slave-whip, red with blood, cracks over us in mockery. We invoke


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the aid of the ministers of Him who came "to preach deliverance to the captive," and to set at liberty them that are bound, and from the loftiest summits of this ministry comes the inhuman and blasphemous response, saying: if one prayer would move the Almighty arm in mercy to break your galling chains, that prayer would be withheld. We cry for help to humanity -- a common humanity, and here too we are repulsed. American humanity hates us, scorns us, disowns and denies, in a thousand ways, our very personality. The outspread wing of American Christianity, apparently broad enough to give shelter to a perishing world, refuses to cover us. To us, its bones are brass, and its feathers iron. In running thither for shelter and succor, we have only fled from the hungry bloodhound to the devouring wolf, from a corrupt and selfish world to a hollow and hypocritical Church; and may I not add, from the agonies of earth to the flames of hell! Sir, this is strong language. For the sake of my people, I would to God it were extravagantly strong. But, Sir, I fear our fault here to-day will not be that we have pleaded the cause of the slave too vehemently, but too tamely; that we have not contemplated his wrongs with too much excitement, but with unnatural calmness and composure. For my part, I cannot speak as I feel on this subject. My language, though never so bitter, is less bitter than my experience. At best, my poor speech is, to the facts in the case, but as the shadow to the substance. Sir, it is known to you, and to many who hear me, that I am alike familiar with the whip and chain of slavery, and the lash and sting of public neglect and scorn; that my back is marked with the one, and my soul is fretted with the other. My neck is galled by both yokes -- that imposed by one master, and that imposed by many masters. More than twenty years of my life were passed in slavery, and nearly fifteen years have been passed in nominal freedom. Mine has been the experience of the colored people of America, both slave and free. I was born a slave. Even before I made part of this breathing world, the scourge was plaited for my back, and the fetters were forged for my limbs. My earliest recollections are associated with the appalling thought that I was a slave -- a slave for life. How that crushing thought wrung my young heart I shall never be able fully to tell. But of some things I can tell -- some things which are incident to the free and to the slave people of this country. Give me leave, then, in my own language to speak freely all that can be uttered of the thoughts of my heart in regard to the wrongs of the people with whom I thus stand associated in the two conditions to which I have thus alluded; for when I have said all, "the half will not then have been told." Sir, it was once said by that greatest of modern Irish orators, Daniel O'Connell, (a man whose patriotism was equalled only by his love of universal freedom,) that the history of the Irish people might be traced like a wounded man through a crowd, by the blood. That is a most startling saying. I read it with a shudder soon after it was said, and felt, if this were true in relation to the Irish people, it was still more true in relation to the colored people of the United States. Our wrongs and outrages are as old as our country. They date back to its earliest settlement, and extend through two hundred and thirty years, and they are as numerous and as oft-repeated as the days of all those years. Even now, while I speak and you listen, the work of blood and sorrow goes on. Methinks I hear the noise of chains and the clang of the whip. There is not a day, not an hour in any day,


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not a minute in any hour of the day, that the blood of my people does not gush forth at the call of the scourge; that the tenderest ties of humanity are not sundered; that parents are not torn from children, and husbands from their wives, for the convenience of those who gain fortunes by the blood of their souls. But I do not propose to confine your attention to the details of slavery. They are harrowing to think of, and too shocking to fix the mind upon for any length of time. I rather wish to speak of the condition of the colored people of the United States generally. This people, free and slave, are rapidly filling up the number of four millions. They are becoming a nation, in the midst of a nation which disowns them, and for weal or for woe this nation is united. The distinction between the slave and the free is not great, and their destiny seems one and the same. The black man is linked to his brother by indissoluble ties. The one cannot be truly free while the other is a slave. The free colored man is reminded by the ten thousand petty annoyances with which he meets of his identity with an enslaved people, and that with them he is destined to fall or flourish. We are one nation, then. If not one in immediate condition, at least one in prospects. I will not argue that we are men of like passions with the rest of mankind: that is unnecessary. All know at any rate that we are capable at least of love and hate, friendship and enmity. But whatever character or capacity you ascribe to us, I am not ashamed to be numbered with this race. I am not ashamed to speak here as a Negro. Sir, I utterly abhor and spurn with all the contempt possible that cowardly meanness (I will not call it pride) which leads any colored man to repudiate his connection with his race. I cannot say, therefore, as was said recently by a distinguished colored man at a Convention in Cincinnati, that "he did not speak as a colored man," for, Sir, as a colored man I do speak; as a colored man I was invited here to speak; and as a colored man there are peculiar reasons for my speaking. The man struck is the man to cry out. I would place myself -- nay, I am placed among the victims of American oppression. I view this subject from their stand-point, and scan the moral and political horizon of the country with their hopes, their fears, and their intense solicitude. Standing here, then, and judging from the events and indications of the past few years, the black man must see that a crisis has arrived in his relations with the American people. He is reminded that trials and hardships await him; that the times are portentous of storms which will try the strength of his bark. Sir, it is evident that there is in this country a purely slavery party; a party which exists for no other earthly purpose but to promote the interests of slavery. The presence of this party is felt everywhere in the republic. It is known by no particular name, and has assumed no definite shape, but its branches reach far and wide in the Church and in the State. This shapeless and nameless party is not intangible in other and more important respects. That party, Sir, has determined upon a fixed, definite, and comprehensive policy towards the whole colored population of the United States. What that policy is, it becomes us as Abolitionists, and especially does it become the colored people themselves to consider and understand fully. We ought to know who our enemies are, where they are, and what are their objects and measures. Well, Sir, here is my version of it; not original with me, but mine because I hold it to be true. I understand this policy to comprehend five cardinal objects. They are these: 1st.


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The complete suppression of all anti-slavery discussion; 2d. The expatriation of the entire free people of color from the United States; 3d. The unending perpetuation of slavery in this republic; 4th. The nationalization of slavery to the extent of making slavery respected in every State of the Union; 5th. The extension of slavery over Mexico and the entire South American States. Sir, these objects are forcibly presented to us in the stern logic of passing events -- in the facts which are and have been passing around us during the last three years. The country has been and is now dividing on these grand issues. In their magnitude these issues cast all others into the shade, depriving them of all life and vitality. Old party lines are broken. Like is finding its like on either side of these great issues, and the great battle is at hand. For the present, the best representative of the slavery party in politics is the Democratic party. Its great head for the present is President Pierce, whose boast it is that his whole life has been consistent with the interests of slavery; that he is above reproach on that score. In his inaugural address he reassures the South on this point. The head of the slave power being in power, it is natural that the pro-slavery elements should cluster around the Administration, and this is rapidly being done. A fraternization is going on. The stringent Protectionists and the Free Traders strike hands. The supporters of Fillmore are becoming the supporters of Pierce. The Silver Gray Whig shakes hands with the Hunker Democrat, the former only differing from the latter in name. 99 They are of one heart, one mind, and the union is natural, and perhaps inevitable. Both hate Negroes, both hate progress, both hate the "Higher Law," both hate Wm. H. Seward, both hate the Free Democratic party, and upon these hateful bases they are forming a union of hatred. "Pilate and Herod are thus made friends." Even the central organ of the Whig party is extending its beggar-hand for a morsel from the table of Slavery Democracy; and when spurned from the feast by the more deserving, it pockets the insult; when kicked on one side, it turns the other, and perseveres in its importunities. The fact is, that paper comprehends the demands of the times. It understands the age and its issues. It wisely sees that slavery and freedom are the great antagonistic forces in the country, and it goes to its own side. Silver Grays and Hunkers all understand this. They are, therefore, rapidly sinking all other questions to nothing, compared with the increasing demands of slavery. They are collecting, arranging, and consolidating their forces for the accomplishment of their appointed work. The keystone to the arch of this grand union of the slavery party of the United States is the Compromise of 1850. In that Compromise we have all the objects of our slaveholding policy specified. It is, Sir, favorable to this view of the designs of the slave power that both the Whig and the Democratic party bent lower, sunk deeper, and strained harder in their conventions, preparatory to the late presidential election, to meet the demands of the slavery party than at any previous time in their history. Never did parties come before the Northern people with propositions of such undisguised contempt for the moral sentiment and the religious ideas of that people. They virtually asked them to unite in a war upon free speech, upon conscience, and to drive the Almighty Presence from the councils of the nation. Resting their platforms upon the Fugitive Slave Bill, they boldly asked the people for political power to execute the horrible and hell-black provisions of that bill. The


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history of that election reveals with great clearness the extent to which slavery has shot its leprous distilment through the life-blood of the nation. The party most thoroughly opposed to the cause of justice and humanity triumphed, while the party suspected of a leaning towards liberty was overwhelmingly defeated -- some say, annihilated. But here is a still more important fact, illustrating the designs of the slave power. It is a fact full of meaning, that no sooner did this Democratic leading party come into power than a system of legislation was presented to the Legislatures of the Northern States designed to put the States in harmony with the Fugitive Slave Law, and the malignant bearing of the National Government towards the colored inhabitants of the country. This whole movement on the part of the States bears the evidence of having one origin, emanating from one head, and urged forward by one power. It was simultaneous, uniform, and general, and looked to one end. It was intended to put thorns under feet already bleeding, to crush a people already bowed down, to enslave a people already but half free. In a word, it was intended to discourage, dishearten, and drive the free colored people out of the country. In looking at the recent Black Law of Illinois, one is struck with its enormity. 100 It would seem that the men who enacted that law had not only banished from their minds all sense of justice, but all sense of shame. It coolly proposes to sell the bodies and souls of the blacks to increase the intelligence and refinement of the whites; to rob every black stranger who ventures among them to increase their literary fund. While this is going on in the States, a pro-slavery Political Board of Health is established at Washington. Senators Hale, Chase and Sumner are robbed of a part of their senatorial dignity and consequence, as representing sovereign States, because they have refused to be inoculated with the slavery virus. 101 Among the services which a Senator is expected by his State to perform are many that can only be done efficiently by Committees; and in saying to these honorable Senators, You shall not serve on the Committees of this body, the slavery party took the responsibility of robbing and insulting the States that sent them. It is an attempt at Washington to decide for the States who shall be sent to the Senate. Sir, it strikes me that this aggression on the part of the slave power did not meet at the hands of the proscribed Senators the rebuke which we had a right to expect would be administered. It seems to me that an opportunity was lost; that the great principles of senatorial equality were left undefended at a time when its vindication was sternly demanded. But it is not to the purpose of my present statement to criticise the conduct of our friends. I am persuaded that much ought to be left to the discretion of anti-slavery men in Congress, and charges of recreancy should never be made but on the most sufficient grounds. For, of all the places in the world where an anti-slavery man needs the confidence and encouragement of friends, I take Washington to be that place. Let me now call attention to the social influences which are operating and coöperating with the slavery party of the country, designed to contribute to one or all of the grand objects aimed at by that party. We see here the black man attacked in his vital interests. Prejudice and hate are excited against him. Enmity is stirred up between him and other laborers. The Irish people, warm-hearted, generous, and sympathizing with the oppressed everywhere when they stand on their own green island, are instantly


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taught on arriving in this Christian country to hate and despise the colored people. They are taught to believe that we eat the bread which of right belongs to them. The cruel lie is told the Irish that our adversity is essential to their prosperity. Sir, the Irish American will find out his mistake one day. He will find that in assuming our avocation he also has assumed our degradation. But for the present we are the sufferers. The old employments by which we have heretofore gained our livelihood are gradually, and it may be inevitably, passing into other hands. Every hour sees us elbowed out of some employment, to make room perhaps for some newly arrived immigrants, whose hunger and color are thought to give them a title to especial favor. White men are becoming house-servants, cooks and stewards, common laborers and flunkeys to our gentry, and for aught that I see, they adjust themselves to their stations with a becoming obsequiousness. This fact proves that if we cannot rise to the whites, the whites can fall to us. Now, Sir, look once more. While the colored people are thus elbowed out of employment; while the enmity of immigrants is being excited against us; while State after State enacts laws against us; while we are hunted down like wild game, and oppressed with a general feeling of insecurity, the American Colonization Society -- that old offender against the best interests, and slanderer of the colored people -- awakens to new life, and vigorously presses its scheme upon the consideration of the people and the Government. New papers are started; some for the North and some for the South, and each in its tone adapting itself to its latitude. Government, State and National, is called upon for appropriations to enable the Society to send us out of the country by steam. They want steamers to carry letters and Negroes to Africa. Evidently this Society looks upon our "extremity as its opportunity," and we may expect that it will use the occasion well. It does not deplore, but glories in our misfortunes. But, Sir, I must hasten. I have thus briefly given my view of one aspect of the present condition and future prospects of the colored people of the United States. And what I have said is far from encouraging to my afflicted people. I have seen the cloud gather upon the sable brows of some who hear me. I confess the case looks black enough. Sir, I am not a hopeful man. I think I am apt even to undercalculate the benefits of the future. Yet, Sir, in this seemingly desperate case, I do not despair for my people. There is a bright side to almost every picture of this kind, and ours is no exception to the general rule. If the influences against us are strong, those for us are also strong. To the inquiry, Will our enemies prevail in the execution of their designs? in my God and in my soul I believe they will not. Let us look at the first object sought for by the slavery party of the country, viz., the suppression of anti-slavery discussion. They desire to suppress discussion on this subject, with a view to the peace of the slaveholder and the security of slavery. Now, Sir, neither the principal nor the subordinate objects here declared can be all gained by the slave power, and for this reason: It involves the proposition to padlock the lips of the whites, in order to secure the fetters on the limbs of the blacks. The right of speech, precious and priceless, cannot, will not be surrendered to slavery. Its suppression is asked for, as I have said, to give peace and security to slaveholders. Sir, that thing cannot be done. God has interposed an insuperable obstacle to any such result. "There can be no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Suppose it


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were possible to put down this discussion, what would it avail the guilty slaveholder, pillowed as he is upon the heaving bosoms of ruined souls? He could not have a peaceful spirit. If every anti-slavery tongue in the nation were silent; every anti-slavery organization dissolved; every antislavery press demolished; every anti-slavery periodical, paper, book, tract, pamphlet or what not were searched out, gathered together, deliberately burnt to ashes, and their ashes given to the four winds of heaven, still, still the slaveholder could have "no peace." In every pulsation of his heart, in every throb of his life, in every glance of his eye, in the breeze that soothes and in the thunder that startles, would be waked up an accuser whose language is, "Thou art verily guilty concerning thy brother." Oh! Sir, I can say with the poet Cowper -- and I speak from observation --

I would not have a slave to till my ground.

Again: The prospect, Sir, of putting down this discussion is anything but flattering at the present moment. I am unable to detect any signs of the suppression of this discussion. I certainly do not see it in this crowded assembly, nor upon this platform, nor do I see it in any direction. Why, Sir, look all over the North; look South, look at home, look abroad! Look at the whole civilized world! And what are all this vast multitude doing at this moment? Why, Sir, they are reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, and when they have read that, they will probably read The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin -- a key not only to the cabin, but I believe to the slave's darkest dungeon. A nation's hand, with that "Key," will unlock the slave-prison to millions. Then look at the authoress of Uncle Tom's Cabin. There is nothing in her reception abroad which indicates a declension of interest in the great subject which she has done so much to unfold and illustrate. The sending of a princess on the shores of England would not have produced the same sensation. I take it, then, that the slavery party will find this item of their programme the most difficult of execution, since it is the voice of all experience that opposition to agitation is the most successful method of promoting it. Men will write. Men will read. Men will think. Men will feel. And the result of all this is, men will speak. And it were as well to chain the lightning as to repress the moral convictions and humane prompting of enlightened human nature. Herein, Sir, is our hope. Slavery cannot bear discussion. It is a matter of darkness; and as Junius said of the character of Lord Granby, "it can only pass without censure, as it passes without observation." The second cardinal object of this party, viz.: the expatriation of the free colored people of the United States, is a very desirable one to our enemies; and we read, in the vigorous efforts making to accomplish it, an acknowledgment of our manhood, and the danger to slavery arising out of our presence. Despite the tremendous pressure brought to bear against us, the colored people are gradually increasing in wealth, in intelligence, and in respectability. Here is the secret of the Colonization scheme. It is easily seen that just in proportion to the intelligence and respectability of the free colored race at the North is their power to endanger the stability of slavery. Hence the desire to get rid of us. But, Sir, the desire is not merely to get us out of this country, but to get us at a convenient and harmless distance from slavery. And here, Sir, I think I can speak as if by authority for the free colored


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people of the United States. The people of this republic may commit the audacious and high-handed atrocity of driving us out of the limits of their borders. They may virtually confiscate our property; they may invade our civil and personal liberty, and render our lives intolerable burdens, so that we may be induced to leave the United States; but to compel us to go to Africa is quite another thing. Thank God, the alternative is not quite so desperate as that we must be slaves here, or go to the pestilential shores of Africa. Other and more desirable lands are open to us. We can plant ourselves at the very portals of slavery. We can hover about the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly all the isles of the Caribbean Seas bid us welcome; while the broad and fertile valleys of British Guiana, under the sway of the emancipating Queen, invite us to their treasures, and to nationality. With the Gulf of Mexico on the South, and Canada on the North, we may still keep within hearing of the wails of our enslaved people in the United States. From the isles of the sea and from the mountain-tops of South America we can watch the meandering destiny of those we have left behind. Americans should remember that there are already on this continent, and in the adjacent islands, all of 12,370,000 Negroes, who only wait for the lifegiving and organizing power of intelligence to mould them into one body, and into a powerful nation. The following estimate of our numbers and localities is taken from one of the able reports of the British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society, carefully drawn up by its former Secretary, John Scoble, Esq.: United States, 3,650,000
Brazil, 4,050,000
Spanish Colonies, 1,470,000
S. American Republics, 1,130,000
British Colonies, 750,000
Haiti, 850,000
French Colonies, 270,000
Dutch Colonies 50,000
Danish Colonies, 45,000
Mexico, 70,000
Canada, 35,000
Total, 12,370,000


Now, Sir, it seems to me that the slavery party will gain little by driving us out of this country, unless it drives us off this continent and the adjacent islands. It seems to me that it would be after all of little advantage to slavery to have the intelligence and energy of the free colored people all concentrated in the Gulf of Mexico. Sir, I am not for going any where. I am for staying precisely where I am, in the land of my birth. But, Sir, if I must go from this country; if it is impossible to stay here, I am then for doing the next best, and that will be to go wherever I can hope to be of most service to the colored people of the United States. Americans, there is a meaning in those figures I have read. God does not permit twelve millions of his creatures to live without the notice of his eye. That this vast people are tending to one point on this continent is not without significance. All things are possible with God. Let not the colored man despair, then. Let him remember that a home, a country, a nationality, are all attainable this side of Liberia. But for the present the colored people should stay just where they are, unless they are compelled to leave. I have faith left yet in the wisdom and justice of the country, and it may be that there are enough left of these to save the nation. But there is a third object sought by the slavery party, namely, to render slavery a permanent system in this republic, and to


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make the relation of master and slave respected in every State in the Union. Neither part of this object can be accomplished. Slavery has no means within itself of perpetuation or permanence. It is a huge lie. It is of the Devil, and will go to its place. It is against nature, against progress, against improvement, and against the government of God. It cannot stand. It has an enemy in every bar of railroad iron, in every electric wire, in every improvement in navigation, in the growing intercourse of nations, in cheap postage, in the relaxation of tariffs, in common schools, in the progress of education, the spread of knowledge, in the steam engine, and in the World's Fair, now about to assemble in New York, and in everything that will be exhibited there. About making slavery respectable in the North, laws have been made to accomplish just that thing; the law of '50 and the law of '93. And those laws, instead of getting respect for slavery, have begot distrust and abhorrence. Congress might pass slave-laws every day in the year for all time, if each one should be followed by such publications as Uncle Tom and the Key. It is not in the power of human law to make men entirely forget that the slave is a man. The freemen of the North can never be brought to look with the same feelings upon a man escaping from his claimants as upon a horse running from his owner. The slave is a man, and no slave. Now, Sir, I had more to say on the encouraging aspects of the times, but the time fails me. I will only say, in conclusion, greater is He that is for us than they that are against us; and though labor and peril beset the Anti-slavery movements, so sure as that a God of mercy and justice is enthroned above all created things, so sure will that cause gloriously triumph. [Great applause.]

Annual Report of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society for 1853


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The Claims of Our Common Cause
For five years after the Cleveland convention, the National Convention movement lay dormant. Following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, many Negroes were too terrified to attend public gatherings. Any Negro who was unable to produce proof of his freedom satisfactory to a southern deputy was in danger of being returned to slavery. Hundreds of Negro families from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York fled to Canada, abandoning their homes and work. Professor Fred Landon estimates that approximately twenty thousand Negroes, the greater percentage of whom were probably former slaves, fled to Canada during the decade 1850 -- 1860. 102

The very intensity of the drive against the Negro population in the North compelled the revival of the National Convention. In July, 1853, a hundred and forty delegates from nine states gathered in Rochester, New York, in what was the most important of all conventions. The call for the gathering indicated some of the major problems which made the reconvening of the National Convention necessary: "The Fugitive Slave Act,... the proscriptive legislation of several States with a view to drive our people from their borders -- the exclusion of our children from schools supported by our money -- the prohibition of the exercise of the franchise -- the exclusion of colored citizens from the jury box -- the social barriers erected against our learning trades -- the wiley and vigorous efforts of the American Colonization Society to employ the arm of the government to expel us from our native land -- and withal the propitious awakening to the fact of our condition at home and abroad, which has followed the publication of `Uncle Tom's Cabin' -- calls trumpet-tongued for our union, co-operation, and action...." Reverend J. W. C. Pennington was elected president of the Rochester Convention and the vice-presidents included Douglass, William C. Nell, and John B. Vashon.

Douglass was also chairman of the committee on Declaration of Sentiments and drew up the "Address of the Colored Convention to the People of the United States." This remarkable "Address" set forth the basic demands of the Negro people for justice and equality. Today... it may still be read, not only for the clarity and grace of its prose but also for its significance....

Realizing that [his] claim of citizenship was denied by the national government, Douglass presented a masterly historical analysis to buttress his argument, quoting extensively from state Constitutional Conventions, from congressional debates, and from Andrew Jackson's proclamation to the free colored inhabitants of Louisiana during the Battle of New Orleans....

"No nobler paper was ever put forth by any body of men," commented the reporter for the New York Tribune. 103

Address of the Colored Convention held in Rochester, July 6 -- 8, 1853, to the People of the United States

Fellow citizens:

Met in convention as delegates, representing the Free Colored people of the United States; charged with the responsibility of inquiring into the general condition of our people, and of devising measures which may, with the blessing of God, tend to our mutual improvement and elevation; conscious of entertaining no motives, ideas, or aspirations, but such as are in accordance with truth and justice, and are compatible with the highest good of our country and the world, with a cause as vital and worthy as that for which (nearly eighty years ago) your fathers and our fathers bravely contended, and in which they gloriously triumphed -- we


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deem it proper, on this occasion, as one method of promoting the honorable ends for which we have met, and of discharging our duty to those in whose name we speak, to present the claims of our common cause to your candid, earnest, and favorable consideration.

As an apology for addressing you, fellow-citizens! we cannot announce the discovery of any new principle adapted to ameliorate the condition of mankind. The great truths of moral and political science, upon which we rely, and which we press upon your consideration, have been evolved and enunciated by you. We point to your principles, your wisdom, and to your great example as the full justification of our course this day. That "all men are created equal": that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are the right of all; that "taxation and representation" should go together; that governments are to protect, not to destroy, the rights of mankind; that the Constitution of the United States was formed to establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to all the people of this country; that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God -- are American principles and maxims, and together they form and constitute the constructive elements of the American government. From this elevated platform, provided by the Republic for us, and for all the children of men, we address you. In doing so, we would have our spirit properly discerned. On this point we would gladly free ourselves and our cause from all misconception. We shall affect no especial timidity, nor can we pretend to any great boldness. We know our poverty and weakness, and your wealth and greatness. Yet we will not attempt to repress the spirit of liberty within us, or to conceal, in any wise, our sense of the justice and the dignity of our cause.

We are Americans, and as Americans, we would speak to Americans. We address you not as aliens nor as exiles, humbly asking to be permitted to dwell among you in peace; but we address you as American citizens asserting their rights on their own native soil. Neither do we address you as enemies, (although the recipients of innumerable wrongs); but in the spirit of patriotic good will. In assembling together as we have done, our object is not to excite pity for ourselves, but to command respect for our cause, and to obtain justice for our people. We are not malefactors imploring mercy; but we trust we are honest men, honestly appealing for righteous judgment, and ready to stand or fall by that judgment. We do not solicit unusual favor, but will be content with roughhanded "fair play." We are neither lame or blind, that we should seek to throw off the responsibility of our own existence, or to cast ourselves upon public charity for support. We would not lay our burdens upon other men's shoulders; but we do ask, in the name of all that is just and magnanimous among men, to be freed from all the unnatural burdens and impediments with which American customs and American legislation have hindered our progress and improvement. We ask to be disencumbered of the load of popular reproach heaped upon us -- for no better cause than that we wear the complexion given us by our God and our Creator.

We ask that in our native land, we shall not be treated as strangers, and worse than strangers.

We ask that, being friends of America, we should not be treated as enemies of America.


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We ask that, speaking the same language and being of the same religion, worshipping the same God, owing our redemption to the same Savior, and learning our duties from the same Bible, we shall not be treated as barbarians.

We ask that, having the same physical, moral, mental, and spiritual wants, common to other members of the human family, we shall also have the same means which are granted and secured to others, to supply those wants.

We ask that the doors of the school-house, the workshop, the church, the college, shall be thrown open as freely to our children as to the children of other members of the community.

We ask that the American government shall be so administered as that beneath the broad shield of the Constitution, the colored American seaman, shall be secure in his life, liberty and property, in every State in the Union.

We ask that as justice knows no rich, no poor, no black, no white, but, like the government of God, renders alike to every man reward or punishment, according as his works shall be -- the white and black man may stand upon an equal footing before the laws of the land.

We ask that (since the right of trial by jury is a safeguard to liberty, against the encroachments of power, only as it is a trial by impartial men, drawn indiscriminately from the country) colored men shall not, in every instance, be tried by white persons; and that colored men shall not be either by custom or enactment excluded from the jury-box.

We ask that (inasmuch as we are, in common with other American citizens, supporters of the State, subject to its laws, interested in its welfare liable to be called upon to defend it in time of war, contributors to its wealth in time of peace) the complete and unrestricted right of suffrage, which is essential to the dignity even of the white man, be extended to the Free Colored man also.

Whereas the colored people of the United States have too long been retarded and impeded in the development and improvement of their natural faculties and powers, even to become dangerous rivals to white men, in the honorable pursuits of life, liberty and happiness; and whereas, the proud Anglo-Saxon can need no arbitrary protection from open and equal competition with any variety of the human family; and whereas, laws have been enacted limiting the aspirations of colored men, as against white men -- we respectfully submit that such laws are flagrantly unjust to the man of color, and plainly discreditable to white men; and for these and other reasons, such laws ought to be repealed.

We especially urge that all laws and usages which preclude the enrollment of colored men in the militia, and prohibit their bearing arms in the navy, disallow their rising, agreeable to their merits and attainments -- are unconstitutional -- the constitution knowing no color -- are anti-Democratic, since Democracy respects men as equals -- are unmagnanimous, since such laws are made by the many, against the few, and by the strong against the weak.

We ask that all those cruel and oppressive laws, whether enacted at the South or the North, which aim at the expatriation of the free people of color, shall be stamped with national reprobation, denounced as contrary to the humanity of the American people, and as an outrage upon the Christianity and civilization of the nineteenth century.


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We ask that the right of pre-emption, enjoyed by all white settlers upon the public lands, shall also be enjoyed by colored settlers; and that the word "white" be struck from the pre-emption act. We ask that no appropriations whatever, state or national, shall be granted to the colonization scheme; and we would have our right to leave or to remain in the United States placed above legislative interference.

We ask that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, that legislative monster of modern times, by whose atrocious provisions the writ of "habeas corpus," the "right of trial by jury," have been virtually abolished, shall be repealed.

We ask, that the law of 1793 be so construed as to apply only to apprentices, and others really owing service or labor; and not to slaves, who can owe nothing. Finally, we ask that slavery in the United States shall be immediately, unconditionally, and forever abolished.

To accomplish these just and reasonable ends, we solemnly pledge ourselves to God, to each other, to our country, and to the world, to use all and every means consistent with the just rights of our fellow men, and with the precepts of Christianity.

We shall speak, write and publish, organize and combine to accomplish them.

We shall invoke the aid of the pulpit and the press to gain them.

We shall appeal to the church and to the government to gain them.

We shall vote, and expend our money to gain them.

We shall send eloquent men of our own condition to plead our cause before the people.

We shall invite the co-operation of good men in this country and throughout the world -- and above all, we shall look to God, the Father and Creator of all men, for wisdom to direct us and strength to support us in the holy cause to which we this day solemnly pledge ourselves.

Such, fellow-citizens are our aims, ends, aspirations and determinations. We place them before you, with the earnest hope, that upon further investigation, they will meet your cordial and active approval.

And yet, again, we would free ourselves from the charge of unreasonableness and self-sufficiency.

In numbers we are few and feeble; but in the goodness of our cause, in the rectitude of our motives, and in the abundance of argument on our side, we are many and strong.

We count our friends in the heavens above, in the earth beneath, among good men and holy angels. The subtle and mysterious cords of human sympathy have connected us with philanthropic hearts throughout the civilized world. The number in our own land who already recognize the justice of our cause, and are laboring to promote it, is great and increasing.

It is also a source of encouragement, that the genuine American, brave and independent himself, will respect bravery and independence in others. He spurns servility and meanness, whether they be manifested by nations or by individuals. We submit, therefore, that there is neither necessity for, nor disposition on our part to assume a tone of excessive humility. While we would be respectful, we must address you as men, as citizens, as brothers, as dwellers in a common country, equally interested with you for its welfare, its honor and for its prosperity.


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To be still more explicit: We would, first of all, be understood to range ourselves no lower among our fellow-countrymen than is implied in the high appellation of "citizen."

Notwithstanding the impositions and deprivations which have fettered us -- notwithstanding the disabilities and liabilities, pending and impending -- notwithstanding the cunning, cruel, and scandalous efforts to blot out that right, we declare that we are, and of right we ought to be American citizens. We claim this right, and we claim all the rights and privileges, and duties which, properly, attach to it.

It may, and it will, probably, be disputed that we are citizens. We may, and, probably, shall be denounced for this declaration, as making an inconsiderate, impertinent and absurd claim to citizenship; but a very little reflection will vindicate the position we have assumed, from so unfavorable a judgment. Justice is never inconsiderate; truth is never impertinent; right is never absurd. If the claim we set up be just, true and right, it will not be deemed improper or ridiculous in us so to declare it. Nor is it disrespectful to our fellow-citizens, who repudiate the aristocratic notions of the old world that we range ourselves with them in respect to all the rights and prerogatives belonging to American citizens. Indeed, we believe, when you have duly considered this subject, you will commend us for the mildness and modesty with which we have taken our ground.

By birth, we are American citizens; by the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are American citizens; within the meaning of the United States Constitution, we are American citizens; by the facts of history, and the admissions of American statesmen, we are American citizens; by the hardships and trials endured; by the courage and fidelity displayed by our ancestors in defending the liberties and in achieving the independence of our land, we are American citizens. In proof of the justice of this primary claim, we might cite numerous authorities, facts and testimonies, -- a few only must suffice.

In the Convention of New York, held for amending the Constitution of that State, in the year 1821, an interesting discussion took place, upon a proposition to prefix the word "white" to male citizens. Nathan Sandford, then late Chancellor of the State, said:

"Here there is but one estate -- the people -- and to me the only qualification seems to be their virtue and morality. If they may be safely trusted to vote for one class of rulers, why not for all? The principle of the scheme is, that those who bear the burdens of the State, shall choose those that rule it."

Dr. Robert Clark, in the same debate, said:

"I am unwilling to retain the word `white,' because it is repugnant to all the principles and notions of liberty, to which we have heretofore professed to adhere, and to our `Declaration of Independence,' which is a concise and just expose of those principles." He said "it had been appropriately observed by the Hon. gentleman from Westchester, (Mr. Jay,) that by retaining this word, you violate the Constitution of the United States."

Chancellor Kent supported the motion of Mr. Jay to strike out the word "white."


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"He did not come to this Convention," said he, "to disfranchise any portion of the community."

Peter A. Jay, on the same occasion, said, "It is insisted that this Convention, clothed with all the powers of the sovereign people of the State, have a right to construct the government in a manner they think most conducive to the general good. If Sir, right and power be equivalent terms, then I am far from disputing the rights of this assembly. We have power, Sir, I acknowledge, not only to disfranchise every black family, but as many white families also, as we may think expedient. We may place the whole government in the hands of a few and thus construct an aristocracy. * * * * * * But, Sir, right and power are not convertible terms. No man, no body of men, however powerful, have a right to do wrong."

In the same Convention, Martin Van Buren said:

"There were two words which have come into common use with our revolutionary struggle -- words which contained an abridgement of our political rights -- words which, at that day, had a talismanic effect -- which led our fathers from the bosom of their families to the tented field -- which for seven long years of toil and suffering, had kept them to their arms, and which finally conducted them to a glorious triumph. They were `Taxation and Representation.' Nor did they lose their influence with the close of the struggle. They were never heard in our halls of legislation without bringing to our recollection the consecrated feelings of those who won our liberties, or, reminding us of everything that was sacred in principle."

Ogden Edwards without, said, "he considered it no better than robbery to demand the contributions of colored people towards defraying the public expenses, and at the same time to disfranchise them."

But we must close our quotations from these debates. Much more could be cited, to show that colored men are not only citizens, but that they have a right to the exercise of the elective franchise in the State of New York. If the right of citizenship is established in the State of New York, it is in consequence of the same facts which exist at least in every free State of the Union. We turn from the debates in the State of New York to the nation; and here we find testimony abundant and incontestible, that Free Colored people are esteemed as citizens, by the highest authorities in the United States.

The Constitution of the United States declares "that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the United States."

There is in this clause of the Constitution, nothing whatever, of that watchful malignity which has manifested itself lately in the insertion of the word "white," before the term "citizen." The word "white" was unknown to the framers of the Constitution of the United States in such connections -- unknown to the signers of the Declaration of Independence -- unknown to the brave men at Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga and at Red Bank. It is a modern word, brought into use by modern legislators, despised in revolutionary times. The question of our citizenship came up as a national question, and was settled during the pendency of the Missouri question, in 1820.

It will be remembered that that State presented herself for admission into the Union, with a clause in her Constitution prohibiting the settlement of colored


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citizens within her borders. Resistance was made to her admission into the Union, upon that very ground; and it was not until that State receded from her unconstitutional position, that President Monroe declared the admission of Missouri into the Union to be complete.

According to Niles' Register, August 18th, vol. 20, page 338 -- 339, the refusal to admit Missouri into the Union was not withdrawn until the General Assembly of that State, in conformity to a fundamental condition imposed by Congress, had, by an act passed for that purpose, solemnly enacted and declared:

"That this State [Missouri] has assented, and does assent, that the fourth clause of the 26th section of the third article of their Constitution should never be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the United States shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizens are entitled, under the Constitution of the United States."

Upon this action by the State of Missouri, President Monroe proclaimed the admission of Missouri into the Union.

Here, fellow-citizens, we have a recognition of our citizenship by the highest authority of the United States; and here we might rest our claim to citizenship. But there have been services performed, hardships endured, courage displayed by our fathers, which modern American historians forget to record -- a knowledge of which is essential to an intelligent judgment of the merits of our people. Thirty years ago, slavery was less powerful than it is now; American statesmen were more independent then, than now; and as a consequence, the black man's patriotism and bravery were more readily recognized. The age of slave-hunting had not then come on. In the memorable debate on the Missouri question, the meritorious deeds of our fathers obtained respectful mention. The Hon. Wm. Eustis, who had himself been a soldier of the revolution, and Governor of the State of Massachusetts, made a speech in the Congress of the United States, 12th December, and said:

"The question to be determined is, whether the article in the Constitution of Missouri, requiring the legislature to provide by law, `that free negroes and mulattoes shall not be admitted into that State,' is, or is not repugnant to that clause of the Constitution of the United States which declares `that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States?' This is the question. Those who contend that the article is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, take the position that free blacks and mulattoes are not citizens. Now I invite the gentlemen who maintain this to go with me and examine this question to its root. At the early part of the revolutionary war, there were found in the middle and northern States, many blacks and other people of color, capable of bearing arms, a part of them free, and a greater part of them slaves. The freemen entered our ranks with the whites. The time of those who were slaves were purchased by the State, and they were induced to enter the service in consequence of a law, by which, on condition of their serving in the ranks during the war, they were made freemen. In Rhode Island, where their numbers were more considerable, they were formed under the same considerations into a regiment, commanded by white officers; and it is required in justice to them, to add that they discharged their duty with zeal


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and fidelity. The gallant defence of Red Bank, in which the black regiment bore a part, is among the proofs of their valor.

"Not only the rights but the character of those men do not seem to be understood; nor is it to me at all extraordinary that gentlemen from other States in which the condition, character, the moral facilities, and the rights of men of color differ so widely, should entertain opinions so variant from ours. In Massachusetts, Sir, there are among them who possess all the virtues which are deemed estimable in civil and social life. They have their public teachers of religion and morality -- their schools and other institutions. On anniversaries which they consider interesting to them, they have their public processions, in all of which they conduct themselves with order and decorum. Now, we ask only, that in a disposition to accommodate others, their avowed rights and privileges be not taken from them. If their number be small, and they are feebly represented, we, to whom they are known, are proportionately bound to protect them. But their defence is not founded on their numbers; it rests on the immutable principles of justice. If there be only one family, or a solitary individual who has rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution, whatever may be his color or complexion, it is not in the power, nor can it be the inclination of Congress to deprive him of them. And I trust, Sir, that the decision on this occasion will show that we will extend good faith even to the blacks." -- National Intelligencer, January 2, 1821.

The following is an extract from a speech of the Hon. Mr. Morrill, of New Hampshire, delivered in the United States Senate in the same month, and reported in the National Intelligencer, Jan. 11th, 1821:

"Sir, you excluded, not only the citizens from their constitutional privileges and immunities, but also your soldiers of color, to whom you have given patents of land. You had a company of this description. They have fought your battles. They have defended your country. They have preserved your privileges; but have lost their own. What did you say to them on their enlistment? `We will give you a monthly compensation, and, at the end of the war, 160 acres of good land, on which you may settle, and by cultivating the soil, spend your declining years in peace and in the enjoyment of those immunities for which you have fought and bled.' Now, Sir, you restrict them, and will not allow them to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Where is the public faith in this case? Did they suppose, with a patent in their hand, declaring their title to land in Missouri, with the seal of the nation, and the President's signature affixed thereto, it would be said unto them by any authority, you shall not possess the premises? This could never have been anticipated; and yet this must follow, if colored men are not citizens."

Mr. Strong, of New York, said, in the same great debate, "The federal constitution knows but two descriptions of freemen: these are citizens and aliens. Now Congress can naturalize only aliens -- i.e., persons who owe allegiance to a foreign government. But a slave has no country, and owes no allegiance except to his master. How, then, is he an alien? If restored to his liberty, and made a freeman, what is his national character? It must be determined by the federal constitution, and without reference to policy; for it respects liberty. Is it that of a citizen, or alien? But it has been shown that he is not an alien. May we not, therefore, conclude -- nay, are we not bound to conclude that he is a citizen of the United States?"

Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, speaking of the colored people, in Congress, and with reference to the same question, bore this testimony:


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"They then were (during the Revolution) as they still are, as valuable a part of our population to the Union, as any other equal number of inhabitants. They were, in numerous instances, the pioneers; and in all the labors of your armies, to their hands were owing the erection of the greatest part of the fortifications raised for the protection of our country. Fort Moultrie gave at an early period the experience and untired valor of our citizens' immortality to American arms; and in the Northern States, numerous bodies of them were enrolled, and fought, side by side, with the whites, the battles of the Revolution."

General Jackson, in his celebrated proclamations to the free colored inhabitants of Louisiana, uses these expressions: "Your white fellow-citizens;" and again: "Our brave citizens are united, and all contention has ceased among them."

FIRST PROCLAMATION (Extracts)

Headquarters, 7th Military Dis't.,

Mobile, Sept. 21st, 1814

To the Free Colored Inhabitants of Louisiana:

Through a mistaken policy you have heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights, in which your country is engaged.

This no longer shall exist.

As sons of freedom, you are now called on to defend our most inestimable blessings. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valorous support. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally round the standard of the Eagle, to defend all which is dear to existence.

Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish you to engage in her cause without remunerating you for the services rendered.

In the sincerity of a soldier, and in the language of truth, I address you. -- To every noble-hearted free man of color, volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty in money and land now received by the white soldiers of the United States, viz: $124 in money, and 160 acres of land. The non-commissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same monthly pay and daily rations, and clothes, furnished to any American soldier.

The Major General commanding will select officers for your government from your white fellow-citizens. Your non-commissioned officers will be selected from yourselves. Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers. As a distinct, independent battalion or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.

Andrew Jackson,

Major Gen. Commanding.

Niles' Register, Dec. 3, 1814, vol. 7, p. 205

SECOND PROCLAMATION

To the Free People of Color:

Soldiers! when on the banks of the Mobile I called you to take up arms, inviting you to partake the perils and glory of your white fellow-citizens, I expected much from you; for I was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to an invading enemy. I knew with what fortitude you could endure hunger and thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign.

I knew well how you loved your native country, and that you, as well as ourselves, had to defend what man holds most dear -- his parents, wife, children, and property.


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You have done more than I expected. In addition to the previous qualities I before knew you to possess, I found among you a noble enthusiasm which leads to the performance of great things.

Soldiers! the President of the United States shall hear how praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the representatives of the American people will give you the praise your exploits entitle you to. Your General anticipates them in applauding your noble ardor.

The enemy approaches -- his vessels cover our lakes -- our brave citizens are united, and all contention has ceased among them. Their only dispute is, who shall win the prize of valor, or who the most glory, its noblest reward. -- By order,

Thomas Butler, Aide-de-Camp.

Such, fellow-citizens, is but a sample of a mass of testimony, upon which we found our claim to be American citizens. There is, we think, no flaw in the evidence. The case is made out. We and you stand upon the same broad national basis. Whether at home or abroad, we and you owe equal allegiance to the same government -- have a right to look for protection on the same ground. We have been born and reared on the same soil; we have been animated by, and have displayed the same patriotic impulses; we have acknowledged and performed the same duty; we have fought and bled in the same battles; we have gained and gloried in the same victories; and we are equally entitled to the blessings resulting therefrom.

In view of this array of evidence of services bravely rendered, how base and monstrous would be the ingratitude, should the republic disown us and drive us into exile! -- how faithless and selfish, should the nation persist in degrading us! But we will not remind you of obligations -- we will not appeal to your generous feelings -- a naked statement of the case is our best appeal. Having, now, upon the testimony of your own great and venerated names completely vindicated our right to be regarded and treated as American citizens, we hope you will now permit us to address you in the plainness of speech becoming the dignity of American citizens.

Fellow-citizens, we have had, and still have, great wrongs of which to complain. A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon us.

As a people, we feel ourselves to be not only deeply injured, but grossly misunderstood. Our white fellow-countrymen do not know us. They are strangers to our character, ignorant of our capacity, oblivious of our history and progress, and are misinformed as to the principles and ideas that control and guide us as a people. The great mass of American citizens estimate us as being a characterless and purposeless people; and hence we hold up our heads, if at all, against the withering influence of a nation's scorn and contempt.

It will not be surprising that we are so misunderstood and misused when the motives for misrepresenting us and for degrading us are duly considered. Indeed, it will seem strange, upon such consideration, (and in view of the ten thousand channels through which malign feelings find utterance and influence,) that we have not even fallen lower in public estimation than we have done. For, with the single exception of the Jews, under the whole heavens, there is not to be found a people pursued with a more relentless prejudice and persecution, than are the Free Colored people of the United States.


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Without pretending to have exerted ourselves as we ought, in view of an intelligent understanding of our interest, to avert from us the unfavorable opinions and unfriendly action of the American people, we feel that the imputations cast upon us, for our want of intelligence, morality and exalted character, may be mainly accounted for by the injustice we have received at your hands. What stone has been left unturned to degrade us? What hand has refused to fan the flame of popular prejudice against us? What American artist has not caricatured us? What wit has not laughed at us in our wretchedness? What songster has not made merry over our depressed spirits? What press has not ridiculed and condemned us? What pulpit has withheld from our devoted heads its angry lightning, or its sanctimonious hate? Few, few, very few; and that we have borne up with it all -- that we have tried to be wise, though denounced by all to be fools -- that we have tried to be upright, when all around us have esteemed us as knaves -- that we have striven to be gentlemen, although all around us have been teaching us its impossibility -- that we have remained here, when all our neighbors have advised us to leave, proves that we possess qualities of head and heart, such as cannot but be commended by impartial men. It is believed that no other nation on the globe could have made more progress in the midst of such an universal and stringent disparagement. It would humble the proudest, crush the energies of the strongest, and retard the progress of the swiftest. In view of our circumstances, we can, without boasting, thank God, and take courage, having placed ourselves where we may fairly challenge comparison with more highly favored men.

Among the colored people, we can point, with pride and hope, to men of education and refinement, who have become such, despite of the most unfavorable influences; we can point to mechanics, farmers, merchants, teachers, ministers, doctors, lawyers, editors, and authors against whose progress the concentrated energies of American prejudice have proved quite unavailing. -- Now, what is the motive for ignoring and discouraging our improvement in this country? The answer is ready. The intelligent and upright free man of color is an unanswerable argument in favor of liberty, and a killing condemnation of American slavery. It is easily seen that, in proportion to the progress of the free man of color, in knowledge, temperance, industry, and righteousness, in just that proportion will he endanger the stability of slavery; hence, all the powers of slavery are exerted to prevent the elevation of the free people of color.

The force of fifteen hundred million dollars is arrayed against us; hence, the press, the pulpit, and the platform, against all the natural promptings of uncontaminated manhood, point their deadly missiles of ridicule, scorn and contempt at us; and bid us, on pain of being pierced through and through, to remain in our degradation.

Let the same amount of money be employed against the interest of any other class of persons, however favored by nature they may be, the result could scarcely be different from that seen in our own case. Such a people would be regarded with aversion; the money-ruled multitude would heap contumely upon them, and money-ruled institutions would proscribe them. Besides this money consideration, fellow-citizens, an explanation of the erroneous opinions prevalent concerning us is furnished in the fact, less creditable to human nature, that men are apt to hate


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most those whom they have injured most. -- Having despised us, it is not strange that Americans should seek to render us despicable; having enslaved us, it is natural that they should strive to prove us unfit for freedom; having denounced us as indolent, it is not strange that they should cripple our enterprise; having assumed our inferiority, it would be extraordinary if they sought to surround us with circumstances which would serve to make us direct contradictions to their assumption.

In conclusion, fellow-citizens, while conscious of the immense disadvantages which beset our pathway, and fully appreciating our own weakness, we are encouraged to persevere in efforts adapted to our improvement, by a firm reliance upon God, and a settled conviction, as immovable as the everlasting hills, that all the truths in the whole universe of God are allied to our cause.

Frederick Douglass,

J. M. Whitfield,

H. O. Wagoner,

Rev. A. N. Freeman,

George B. Vashon.

Proceedings of the Colored National Convention Held in Rochester, July 6th, 7th and 8th, 1853, Rochester, 1853.

A Terror to Kidnappers
Such is the title of a huge and highly finished cane, recently presented to Frederick Douglass by John Jones and J.D. Bonner, members of the National Council for Illinois. This was a happy thought, this stick -- present not altogether inappropriate, for it is believed in these parts that a good stick is sometimes as much needed as a good speech and often more effective. Where you have a dog deal with, stick will perform wonders where speech would be powerless! -- There are among the children of men, and I have gained the fact from personal observation, to be found representatives of all the animal world, from the most savage and ferocious, to the most gentle and docile. Everything must be dealt with according to its kind. What will do for the Lamb will not do for the Tiger. A man would look foolish if he attempted to bail out a leaking boat with the Bible, or to extinguish a raging fire by throwing in a Prayer Book. Equally foolish would he look if he attempted to soften a slave-catcher's heart without first softening his head. This is a capital stick, and I thank my friends for it. I hope never to meet with a creature requiring its use; but should I meet with such an one, I shall use it with stout arm and humane motive.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, November 25, 1853


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Part Four: From the Kansas-Nebraska Act to the Election of Abraham Lincoln

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The Word White.
The Homestead Bill, 104 which has just passed the House of Representatives, and is now likely to pass the Senate, contains a provision limiting the advantages which it is designed to secure, solely to that part of God's children, who happen to live in a skin which passes for white. Blacks, browns, mulattoes, and quadroons, &c., are to have no part or lot in the rights it secures, to the settlers on the wild lands of the Republic. In the political eyes of our legislators, these latter have no right to live. The great Legislator above, according to our magnanimous republicans, legislated unwisely, and in a manner which independent Americans can never sanction, in giving life to blacks, browns, mulattoes, and quadroons, equally with his dear white children! and this, Congress is determined to make evident before Heaven and Earth and Hell! Alas! poor, robbed and murdered people! for what were we born? Why was life given us? We may not live in the old states; we may not emigrate to the new, and are told not to settle with any security on the wild lands! Were we made to sport? -- given life to have it starved out of us? -- provided with blood simply that it may gush forth at the call of the scourge? and thus to gratify the white man's love of torture. Some deeds there are, so wantonly cruel, so entirely infernal, as to stun the feeling, and confound all the powers of reason. -- And such an one is this. What kind of men are those who voted for the Homestead Bill with such an amendment! Do they eat bread afforded by our common mother earth? and do they ever pray that God, the common father of mankind, will preserve them from famine? Men that act as they have now acted, do not appear to believe either in the existence of, or in the justice of God. It is impossible for us to argue against such mean, cowardly and wanton cruelty. Americans by birth -- attached to the country by every association that can give a right to share in the benefits of its institutions, the first successful tillers of the soil -- and yet foreigners, aliens, Irish, Dutch, English and French, are to be made welcome to a quarter section of American land, while we are to be kept off from it by the flaming sword, of the Republic. Shame on the outrage!

Frederick Douglass' Paper, March 17, 1854

The End of All Compromises with Slavery -- Now and Forever
Against the indignant voice of the Northern people -- against the commonest honesty -- against the most solemn warnings from statesmen and patriots -- against the most explicit and public pledges of both the great parties -- against the declared purpose of Pres't Pierce on assuming the reins of government -- against every obligation of honor, and the faith of mankind -- against the stern resistance of a


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brave minority of our representatives -- against the plainest dictates of the Christian religion, and the voice of its ministers, the hell-black scheme for extending slavery over Nebraska, where thirty-four years ago it was solemnly protected from slavery forever, has triumphed. The audacious villainy of the slave power, and the contemptible pusillanimity of the North, have begotten this monster, and sent him forth to blast and devour whatsoever remains of liberty, humanity and justice in the land. The North is again whipt -- driven to the wall. The brick is knocked down at the end of the row, by which the remainder are laid prostrate. The Republic swings clear from all her ancient moorings, and moves off upon a tempestuous and perilous sea. Woe! woe! woe to slavery! Her mightiest shield is broken. A bolt that bound the North and South together has been surged asunder, and a mighty barricade, which has intervened between the forces of slavery and freedom, has been madly demolished by the slave power itself; and for one, we now say, in the name of God, let the battle come. Is this the language of excitement? It may be; but it is also the language of truth. The man who is unmoved now, misconceives the crisis; or he is intensely selfish, caring nothing about the affairs of his country and kind. Washington, long the abode of political profligacy and corruption, is now the scene of the revelry of triumphant wickedness, laughing to scorn the moral sense of the nation, and grinding the iron heel of bondage into the bleeding heart of living millions. Great God in mercy, overrule this great wrath to thy praise!

But what is to be done? Why, let this be done: let the whole North awake, arise; let the people assemble in every free State of the Union; and let a great party of freedom be organized, on whose broad banner let it be inscribed, All compromises with slavery ended -- The abolition of slavery essential to the preservation of liberty. Let the old parties go to destruction, whither they have nearly sunk the nation. Let their names be blotted out, and their memory rot; and henceforth let there be only a free party, and a slave party. The banner of God and liberty, and the bloody flag of slavery and chains shall then swing out from our respective battlements, and rally under them our respective armies, and let the inquiry go forth now, as of old, Who is on the Lord's side? Let the ministers of religion, all over the country, whose remonstrances have been treated with contempt -- whose calling has been despised -- whose names have been made a byword -- whose rights as citizens have been insolently denied -- and whose God has been blasphemed by the plotters of this great wickedness, now buckle on the armor of their master, and heartily strive with their immense power, to arrest the nation in its downward progress, and save it from the deep damnation to which it is sinking.


If ye have whispered truth, whisper no longer,
Speak as the tempest does, sterner and stronger.

The time for action has come. While a grand political party is forming, let companies of emigrants from the free States be collected together -- funds provided -- and with every solemnity which the name and power of God can inspire. Let them be sent out to possess the goodly land, to which, by a law of Heaven and a law of man, they are justly entitled.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, May 26, 1854


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Is It Right and Wise to Kill a Kidnapper?
A kidnapper has been shot dead, while attempting to execute the fugitive slave bill in Boston. 105 The streets of Boston in sight of Bunker Hill Monument, have been stained with the warm blood of a man in the act of perpetrating the most atrocious robbery which one man can possibly commit upon another -- even the wresting from him his very person and natural powers. The deed of blood, as of course must have been expected, is making a tremendous sensation in all parts of the country, and calling forth all sorts of comments. Many are branding the deed as "murder," and would visit upon the perpetrator the terrible penalty attached to that dreadful crime. The occurrence naturally brings up the question of the reasonableness, and the rightfulness of killing a man who is in the act of forcibly reducing a brother man who is guilty of no crime, to the horrible condition of a slave. The question bids fair to be one of important and solemn interest, since it is evident that the practice of slave-hunting and slave-catching, with all their attendant enormities, will either be pursued, indefinitely, or abandoned immediately according to the decision arrived at by the community.

Cherishing a very high respect for the opinions of such of our readers and friends as hold to the inviolability of the human life, and differing from them on this vital question, we avail ourselves of the present excitement in the public mind, calmly to state our views and opinions, in reference to the case in hand, asking for them an attentive and candid perusal.

Our moral philosophy on this point is our own -- never having read what others may have said in favor of the views which we entertain.

The shedding of human blood at first sight, and without explanation is, and must ever be, regarded with horror; and he who takes pleasure in human slaughter is very properly looked upon as a moral monster. Even the killing of animals produces a shudder in sensitive minds, uncalloused by crime; and men are only reconciled to it by being shown, not only its reasonableness, but its necessity. These tender feelings so susceptible to pain, are most wisely designed by the Creator, for the preservation of life. They are, especially, the affirmation of God, speaking through nature, and asserting man's right to live. Contemplated in the light of warmth of these feelings, it is in all cases, a crime to deprive a human being of life: but God has not left us solely to the guidance of our feelings, having endowed us with reason, as well as with feeling, and it is in the light of reason that this question ought to be decided.

All will agree that human life is valuable or worthless, as to the innocent or criminal use that is made of it. Most evidently, also, the possession of life was permitted and ordained for beneficent ends, and not to defeat those ends, or to render their attainment impossible. Comprehensively stated, the end of man's creation is his own good, and the honor of his Creator. Life, therefore, is but a means to an end, and must be held in reason to be not superior to the purposes for which it was designed by the All-wise Creator. In this view there is no such thing as an absolute right to live; that is to say, the right to live, like any other


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human right, may be forfeited, and if forfeited, may be taken away. If the right to life stands on the same ground as the right to liberty, it is subject to all the exceptions that apply to the right to liberty. All admit that the right to enjoy liberty largely depends upon the use made of that liberty; hence Society has erected jails and prisons, with a view to deprive men of their liberty when they are so wicked as to abuse it by invading the liberties of their fellows. We have a right to arrest the locomotion of a man who insists upon walking and trampling on his brother man, instead of upon the highway. This right of society is essential to its preservations; without it a single individual would have it in his power to destroy the peace and the happiness of ten thousand otherwise right minded people. Precisely on the same ground, we hold that a man may, properly, wisely and even mercifully be deprived of life. Of course life being the most precious is the most sacred of all rights, and cannot be taken away, but under the direst necessity; and not until all reasonable modes had been adopted to prevent this necessity, and to spare the aggressor.

It is no answer to this view, to say that society is selfish in sacrificing the life of an individual, or of many individuals, to save the mass of mankind, or society at large. It is in accordance with nature, and the examples of the Almighty, in the execution of his will and beneficent laws. When a man flings himself from the top of some lofty monument, against a granite pavement, in that act he forfeits his right to live. He dies according to law, and however shocking may be the spectacle he presents, it is no argument against the beneficence of the law of gravitation, the suspension of whose operation must work ruin to the well-being of mankind. The observance of this law was necessary to his preservation; and his wickedness or folly, in violating it, could not be excused without imperilling those who are living in obedience to it. The atheist sees no benevolence in the law referred to; but to such minds we address not this article. It is enough for us that the All-Wise has established the law, and determined its character, and the penalty of its violation; and however we may deplore the mangled forms of the foolish and the wicked who transgress it, the beneficence of the law itself is fully vindicated by the security it gives to all who obey it.

We hold, then, in view of this great principle, or rule, in the physical world, we may properly infer that other law or principle of justice is the moral and social world, and vindicate its practical application to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the race, as against such exceptions furnished in the monsters who deliberately violate it by taking pleasure in enslaving, imbruting and murdering their fellow-men. As human life is not superior to the laws for the preservation of the physical universe, so, too, it is not superior to the eternal law of justice, which is essential to the preservation of the rights, and the security, and happiness of the race.

The argument thus far is to the point, that society has the right to preserve itself even at the expense of the life of the aggressor; and it may be said that, while what we allege may be right enough, as regards society, it is false as vested in an individual, such as the poor, powerless, and almost friendless wretch, now in the clutches of this proud and powerful republican government. But we take it to be a sound principle, that when government fails to protect the just rights


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of any individual man, either he or his friends may be held in the sight of God and man, innocent, in exercising any right for his preservation which society may exercise for its preservation. Such an individual is flung, by his untoward circumstances, upon his original right of self defence. We hold, therefore, that when James Batchelder, the truckman of Boston, abandoned his useful employment, as a common laborer, and took upon himself the revolting business of a kidnapper, and undertook to play the bloodhound on the track of his crimeless brother Burns, he labelled himself the common enemy of mankind, and his slaughter was as innocent, in the sight of God, as would be the slaughter of a ravenous wolf in the act of throttling an infant. We hold that he had forfeited his right to live, and that his death was necessary, as a warning to others liable to pursue a like course.

It may be said, that though the right to kill in defence of one's liberty be admitted, it is still unwise for the fugitive slave or his friends to avail themselves of this right; and that submission, in the circumstances, is far wiser than resistance. To this it is a sufficient answer to show that submission is valuable only so long as it has some chance of being recognized as a virtue. While it has this chance, it is well enough to practice it, as it may then have some moral effect in restraining crime and shaming aggression, but no longer. That submission on the part of the slave, has ceased to be a virtue, is very evident. While fugitives quietly cross their hands to be tied, adjust their ankles to be chained, and march off unresistingly to the hell of slavery, there will ever be fiends enough to hunt them and carry them back. Nor is this all nor the worst. Such submission, instead of being set to the credit of the poor sable ones, only creates contempt for them in the public mind, and becomes an argument in the mouths of the community, that Negroes are, by nature, only fit for slavery; that slavery is their normal condition. Their patient and unresisting disposition, their unwillingness to peril their own lives, by shooting down their pursuers, is already quoted against them, as marking them as an inferior race. This reproach must be wiped out, and nothing short of resistance on the part of colored men, can wipe it out. Every slave-hunter who meets a bloody death in his infernal business, is an argument in favor of the manhood of our race. Resistance is, therefore, wise as well as just.

At this point of our writing, we meet with the following plea, set up for the atrocious wretch, "gone to his own place," by the Rochester Daily American, a Silver Grey paper.

"An important inquiry arises, -- Who are the murderers of Batchelder? There are several. First, and most guilty, are Wendell Phillips, Theodore Parker, and their Fanueil Hall coadjutors. All just minds will regard their conduct as more atrocious than even that of the ruffians who shot and mangled the unfortunate officer. Cold, remorseless, and bloody as the cruel axe, they deliberately worked up the crowd to a murderous frenzy, and pointed out the path which led to murder. The guilt which rests upon the infuriated assassins is light compared with that which blackens the cowardly orators of Fanueil Hall.

"What had Batchelder done, that Phillips, Parker and their minions should steep their souls in his blood? Why did these men make his wife a widow, -- his children fatherless, and send his unwarned spirit to the presence of God?"


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This is very pathetic. The widow and the fatherless of this brutal truckman -- a truckman who, it seems, was one of the swell-head bullies of Boston, selected for the office of Marshal or Deputy Marshal, solely because of his brutal nature and ferocious disposition.

We would ask Mr. Mann whether if such a wretch should lay his horney paws upon his own dignified shoulders, with a view to reduce him to bondage, he would hold, as a murderer, any friend of his, who, to save him from such a fate, shot down the brute? -- There is not a citizen of Rochester worthy of the name, who would not shoot down any man in defence of his own liberty -- or who, if set upon, by a number of robbers, would not thank any friend who interposed, even to the shedding of blood, for his release. -- The widow and orphans are far better off with such a wretch in the grave, than on the earth. Then again, the law which he undertook to execute, has no tears for the widows and orphans of poor innocent fugitives, who make their homes at the North. With a hand as relentless as that of death, it snatches the husband from the wife, and the father from his children, and this for no crime. -- Oh! that man's ideas of justice and of right depended less upon the circumstance of color, and more upon the indestructible nature of things. For a white man to defend his friend unto blood is praiseworthy, but for a black man to do precisely the same thing is crime. It was glorious for Patrick Henry to say, "Give me liberty or give me death!" It was glorious for Americans to drench the soil, and crimson the sea with blood, to escape the payment of three-penny tax upon tea; but it is crime to shoot down a monster in defence of the liberty of a black man and to save him from a bondage "one hour of which (in the language of Jefferson) is worse than ages of that which our fathers rose in rebellion to oppose." Until Mr. Mann is willing to be a slave -- until he is ready to admit that human legislation can rightfully reduce him to slavery, by a simple vote -- until he abandons the right of self defence -- until he ceases to glory in the deeds of Hancock, Adams, and Warren -- and ceases to look with pride and patriotic admiration upon the sombre pile at Bunker Hill, where the blood of the oppressor was poured out in torrents making thousands of widows and orphans, it does not look graceful in him to brand as murderers those that killed the atrocious Truckman who attempted to play the blood-hound on the track of the poor, defenceless Burns.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, June 2, 1854


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Anthony Burns Returned to Slavery

Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums chang'd to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

Now let all true patriotic Christian Republicans rejoice and be glad! Let a grand Festal day be at once proclaimed from the august seat of government. Let the joyous thunders of ten thousand cannon jar the earth and shake the sky with notes of gratitude, in fitting acknowledgement of this mighty victory! Let the churches be flung open and the pulpit resound with thanksgiving, that our beloved country has been saved, and that Republican Liberty is still secure, and the example of the model republic still shines refulgently, to the confusion of tyrants and oppressors in Europe. After a mighty struggle continued through a great many bitter, dreadful, stormy and anxious days and nights the arms of the Republic have gloriously succeeded in capturing Anthony Burns -- the clothes cleaner -- in Brattle Street, Boston! Under the Star Spangled Banner, on the deck of our gallant warship Morris, the said Burns, whose liberation would have perhaps rent asunder our Model Republic, has been safely conveyed to slavery and chains, in sight of our nation's proud Capitol!

How sweet to the ear and heart of every true American, are the shrieks of Anthony Burns, as the American eagle sends his remorseless beak and bloody talons into him!! How grateful to the taste and pleasant to the eye, is the warm blood of the sable fugitive. He is now getting his desert. How dare he walk on the legs given him by the Almighty? He thought to take possession of his own body! to go at large among men, but he forgot that this is a civilized and Christian nation, and that no such unnatural and monstrous conduct could be allowed. -- Had our churches been dens, and Christians been but tigers, he might have escaped. But he knows by this time that Christian bayonets are more terrible than the claws of the tiger or the fangs of the wolf! He perpetrated the folly of calling upon our churches and ministers to pray for him. He might as well have prayed to the devil to keep him out of hell! Did he not know that our churches are built up, and our religion is supported by the blood and tears of such as he? Was not the Fugitive Slave Bill defended by the very lights of Christianity? Had he forgotten that Rev. Doctor Stewart, of Andover, Doctor Spring, of New York, Doctor Cox, of Brooklyn, and Doctor Lord, of Buffalo, all mighty in doctrine, read in all the languages of the sacred books, enforced his capture as a Christian duty? How foolish was it, then, of him to look to the church for sympathy and to the pulpit for prayers. Was he not the property of brother Suttle, bought with his money, and would it not have been a piece of naked robbery to have deprived dear Brother Suttle of his rightful property? -- A few madcaps -- dangerous ones -- whose infatuation would almost surpass belief, but for their reckless deeds, sought to rescue him; they said he was a man; that he was a brother; that God and nature proclaimed him free; and that it was a sin to enslave him; that it was monstrous and inhuman to enslave him; but we sent these mischievous and infidel persons to prison, and told them to read the Bible. Oh! how our brave troops did trample them down; and how our cannon would have swept them into eternity, had they lifted a finger for the release of our prey!


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Hail Columbia! happy land.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, June 9, 1854

The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered
Douglass' paper... combated the doctrines of white chauvinism which provided the slaveowners with ideological weapons "proving" the "inherent supremacy" of white people, and therefore their right to be masters, and the "inherent inferiority" of Negro people, and therefore their duty to be slaves. Especially did Douglass lash out against the so-called ethnologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and historians who offered alleged proof of the "natural inferiority" of the Negro and the necessity of his filling the God-ordained role of slave to the white man. He pointed out that the ideology of "white supremacy" was as necessary to the system of chattel slavery as the slave trader, the lash, and the bloodhound, and demonstrated that the fostering of a belief in the innate inferiority of the Negro people was part of slavocracy's complex system of control. Douglass called on every Abolitionist to develop the sharpest struggle to expose the propaganda from colleges, pulpits, politicians, and press which constantly drummed out the concept of the inferiority of an entire people. 106

Douglass himself contributed considerably to the exposure of these pseudo-scientific theories. On August 4, 1854, his paper carried the entire text of his speech at Western Reserve College.... Douglass' address demolished the theories of a number of ethnologists and anthropologists who had prostituted their science in the interests of slavery by proclaiming that the Negro was not a man.... Douglass demonstrated that the Negro was a man and that he had a common origin with all other men. This he proved by arguments in which, as the Ohio Observer remarked, "he exhibited considerable knowledge and research."

So wide was the interest aroused by the publication of this address in Frederick Douglass' Paper that it became necessary to reprint it as a pamphlet. Distributed throughout the North and West and even in Europe, it became a powerful weapon to combat the presumed "sub-humanity of Negroes" dictum of the pro-slavery ethnologists and anthropologists. "It is one of the marvels of the age," commented the National Era when the address first appeared in Douglass' paper, "that a fugitive from slavery, reared to manhood under all the weight of its depressing influences, should be the author of this able and learned Address. This fact alone is the best refutation of the atheistical fanatics, who would exclude the Negro from the pale of manhood." [I:99 -- 100]

Address delivered at Western Reserve College, July 12, 1854

Gentlemen, in selecting the Claims of the Negro as the subject of my remarks today, I am animated by a desire to bring before you a matter of living importance -- a matter upon which action, as well as thought is required. The relation subsisting between the white and black people of this country is the vital question of the age. In the solution of this question, the scholars of America will have to take an important and controlling part. This is the moral battle field to which their country and their God now call them. In the eye of both, the neutral scholar is an ignoble man. Here, a man must be hot, or be accounted cold, or, perchance, something worse than hot or cold. The lukewarm and the cowardly, will be rejected


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by earnest men on either side of the controversy. The cunning man who avoids it, to gain the favor of both parties, will be rewarded with scorn; and the timid man who shrinks from it, for fear of offending either party, will be despised. To the lawyer, the preacher, the politician, and to the man of letters, there is no neutral ground. He that is not for us, is against us. Gentlemen, I assume at the start, that wherever else I may be required to speak with bated breath, here, at least, I may speak with freedom the thought nearest my heart. This liberty is implied, by the call I have received to be here; and yet I hope to present the subject so that no man can reasonably say, that an outrage has been committed, or that I have abused the privilege with which you have honored me. I shall aim to discuss the claims of the Negro, general and special, in a manner, though not scientific, still sufficiently clear and definite to enable my hearers to form an intelligent judgment respecting them.

The first general claim which may here be set up, respects the manhood of the Negro. This is an elementary claim, simple enough, but not without question. It is fiercely opposed. A respectable public journal, published in Richmond, Va., bases its whole defence of the slave system upon a denial of the Negro's manhood.

"The white peasant is free, and if he is a man of will and intellect, can rise in the scale of society; or at least his offspring may. He is not deprived by law of those `inalienable rights,' `liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' by the use of it. But here is the essence of slavery -- that we do declare the Negro destitute of these powers. We bind him by law to the condition of the laboring peasant for ever, without his consent, and we bind his posterity after him. Now, the true question is, have we a right to do this? If we have not, all discussions about his comfortable situation, and the actual condition of free laborers elsewhere, are quite beside the point. If the Negro has the same right to his liberty and the pursuit of his own happiness that the white man has, then we commit the greatest wrong and robbery to hold him a slave -- an act at which the sentiment of justice must revolt in every heart and Negro slavery is an institution which that sentiment must sooner or later blot from the face of the earth." -- Richmond Examiner.

After stating the question thus, the Examiner boldy asserts that the Negro has no such right -- BECAUSE HE IS NOT A MAN!

There are three ways to answer this denial. One is by ridicule; a second is by denunciation; and a third is by argument. I hardly know under which of these modes my answer to-day will fall. I feel myself somewhat on trial; and that this is just the point where there is hesitation, if not serious doubt. I cannot, however, argue; I must assert. To know whether a Negro is a man, it must first be known what constitutes a man. Here, as well as elsewhere, I take it, that the "coat must be cut according to the cloth." [It is not necessary, in order to establish the manhood of any one making the claim, to prove that such an one equals Clay in eloquence, or Webster and Calhoun in logical force and directness; for, tried by such standards of mental power as these, it is apprehended that very few could claim the high designation of man. Yet something like this folly is seen in the arguments directed against the humanity of the Negro. His faculties and powers, uneducated and unimproved, have been contrasted with those of the highest cultivation;


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and the world has then been called upon to behold the immense and amazing difference between the man admitted, and the man disputed. The fact that these intellects, so powerful and so controlling, are almost, if not quite as exceptional to the general rule of humanity, in one direction, as the specimen Negroes are in the other, is quite overlooked.]

Man is distinguished from all other animals, by the possession of certain definite faculties and powers, as well as by physical organization and proportions. He is the only two-handed animal on the earth -- the only one that laughs, and nearly the only one that weeps. Men instinctively distinguish between men and brutes. Common sense itself is scarcely needed to detect the absence of manhood in a monkey, or to recognize its presence in a Negro. His speech, his reason, his power to acquire and to retain knowledge, his heaven-erected face, his habitudes, his hopes, his fears, his aspirations, his prophecies, plant between him and the brute creation, a distinction as eternal as it is palpable. Away, therefore, with all the scientific moonshine that would connect men with monkeys; that would have the world believe that humanity, instead of resting on its own characteristic pedestal -- gloriously independent -- is a sort of sliding scale, making one extreme brother to the ourangoutang, and the other to angels, and all the rest intermediates! Tried by all the usual, and all the unusual tests, whether mental, moral, physical, or psychological, the Negro is a MAN -- considering him as possessing knowledge, or needing knowledge, his elevation or his degradation, his virtues, or his vices -- whichever road you take, you reach the same conclusion, the Negro is a MAN. His good and his bad, his innocence and his guilt, his joys and his sorrows, proclaim his manhood in speech that all mankind practically and readily understand.

A very recondite author says, that "man is distinguished from all other animals, in that he resists as well as adapts himself to his circumstances." He does not take things as he finds them, but goes to work to improve them. Tried by this test, too, the Negro is a man. You may see him yoke the oxen, harness the horse, and hold the plow. He can swim the river; but he prefers to fling over it a bridge. The horse bears him on his back -- admits his mastery and dominion. The barnyard fowl know his step, and flock around to receive their morning meal from his sable hand. The dog dances when he comes home, and whines piteously when he is absent. All these know that the Negro is a MAN. Now, presuming that what is evident to beast and to bird, cannot need elaborate argument to be made plain to men, I assume, with this brief statement, that the Negro is a man.

The first claim conceded and settled, let us attend to the second, which is beset with some difficulties, giving rise to many opinions, different from my own, and which opinions I propose to combat.

There was a time when, if you established the point that a particular being is a man, it was considered that such a being, of course, had a common ancestry with the rest of mankind. But it is not so now. This is, you know, an age of science, and science is favorable to division. It must explore and analyze, until all doubt is set at rest. There is, therefore, another proposition to be stated and maintained, separately, which, in other days, (the days before the Notts, the


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Gliddens, the Agassiz, and Mortons, made their profound discoveries in ethnological science,) might have been included in the first.

It is somewhat remarkable, that, at a time when knowledge is so generally diffused, when the geography of the world is so well understood -- when time and space, in the intercourse of nations, are almost annihilated -- when oceans have become bridges -- the earth a magnificent hall -- the hollow sky a dome -- under which a common humanity can meet in friendly conclave -- when nationalities are being swallowed up and the ends of the earth brought together -- I say it is remarkable -- nay, it is strange that there should arise a phalanx of learned men -- speaking in the name of science -- to forbid the magnificent reunion of mankind in one brotherhood. A mortifying proof is here given, that the moral growth of a nation, or an age, does not always keep pace with the increase of knowledge, and suggests the necessity of means to increase human love with human learning.

The proposition to which I allude, and which I mean next to assert, is this, that what are technically called the Negro race, are a part of the human family, and are descended from a common ancestry, with the rest of mankind. The discussion of this point opens a comprehensive field of inquiry. It involves the question of the unity of the human race. Much has and can be said on both sides of that question.

Looking out upon the surface of the Globe, with its varieties of climate, soil, and formations, its elevations and depressions, its rivers, lakes, oceans, islands, continents, and the vast and striking differences which mark and diversify its multitudinous inhabitants, the question has been raised, and pressed with increasing ardor and pertinacity, (especially in modern times,) can all these various tribes, nations, tongues, kindreds, so widely separated, and so strangely dissimilar, have descended from a common ancestry? That is the question, and it has been answered variously by men of learning. Different modes of reasoning have been adopted, but the conclusions reached may be divided into two the one YES, and the other NO. Which of these answers is most in accordance with facts, with reason, with the welfare of the world, and reflects most glory upon the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Author of all existence, is the question for consideration with us? On which side is the weight of the argument, rather than which side is absolutely proved?

It must be admitted at the beginning, that, viewed apart from the authority of the Bible, neither the unity, nor diversity of origin of the human family, can be demonstrated. To use the terse expression of the Rev. Dr. Anderson, who speaking on this point, says; "It is impossible to get far enough back for that." This much, however, can be done. The evidence on both sides, can be accurately weighed, and the truth arrived at with almost absolute certainty.

It would be interesting, did time permit, to give here, some of the most striking features of the various theories, which have, of late, gained attention and respect in many quarters of our country -- touching the origin of mankind -- but I must pass this by. The argument to-day, is to the unity, as against that theory, which affirms the diversity of human origin.


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THE BEARINGS OF THE QUESTION

A moment's reflection must impress all, that few questions have more important and solemn bearings, than the one now under consideration. It is connected with eternal as well as with terrestrial interests. It covers the earth and reaches heaven. The unity of the human race -- the brotherhood of man -- the reciprocal duties of all to each, and of each to all, are too plainly taught in the Bible to admit of cavil. -- The credit of the Bible is at stake -- and if it be too much to say, that it must stand or fall, by the decision of this question, it is proper to say, that the value of that sacred Book -- as a record of the early history of mankind -- must be materially affected, by the decision of the question.

For myself I can say, my reason (not less than my feeling, and my faith) welcomes with joy, the declaration of the Inspired Apostle, "that God has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell upon all the face of the earth." But this grand affirmation of the unity of the human race, and many others like unto it, together with the whole account of the creation, given in the early scriptures, must all get a new interpretation or be overthrown altogether, if a diversity of human origin can be maintained. -- Most evidently, this aspect of the question makes it important to those, who rely upon the Bible, as the sheet anchor of their hopes -- and the frame work of all religious truth. The young minister must look into this subject and settle it for himself, before he ascends the pulpit, to preach redemption to a fallen race.

The bearing of the question upon Revelation, is not more marked and decided than its relation to the situation of things in our country, at this moment. One seventh part of the population of this country is of Negro descent. The land is peopled by what may be called the most dissimilar races on the globe. The black and the white -- the Negro and the European -- these constitute the American people -- and, in all the likelihoods of the case, they will ever remain the principal inhabitants of the United States, in some form or other. The European population are greatly in the ascendant in numbers, wealth and power. They are the rulers of the country -- the masters -- the Africans, are the slaves -- the proscribed portion of the people -- and precisely in proportion as the truth of human brotherhood gets recognition, will be the freedom and elevation, in this country, of persons of African descent. In truth, this question is at the bottom of the whole controversy, now going on between the slaveholders on the one hand, and the abolitionists on the other. It is the same old question which has divided the selfish, from the philanthropic part of mankind in all ages. It is the question whether the rights, privileges, and immunities enjoyed by some ought not to be shared and enjoyed by all.

It is not quite two hundred years ago, when such was the simplicity (I will not now say the pride and depravity) of the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of the British West Indies, that the learned and pious Godwin, a missionary to the West Indies, deemed it necessary to write a book, to remove what he conceived to be the injurious belief that it was sinful in the sight of God to baptize Negroes and Indians. The West Indies have made progress since that time. -- God's emancipating angel has broken the fetters of slavery in those islands, and the praises of the Almighty


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are now sung by the sable lips of eight hundred thousand freemen, before deemed only fit for slaves, and to whom even baptismal and burial rights were denied.

The unassuming work of Godwin may have had some agency in producing this glorious result. One other remark before entering upon the argument. It may be said, that views and opinions, favoring the unity of the human family, coming from one of lowly condition, are open to the suspicion, that "the wish is father to the thought," and so, indeed, it may be. -- But let it be also remembered, that this deduction from the -- weight of the argument on the one side, is more than counterbalanced by the pride of race and position arrayed on the other. Indeed, ninety-nine out of every hundred of the advocates of a diverse origin of the human family in this country, are among those who hold it to be the privilege of the Anglo-Saxon to enslave and oppress the African -- and slaveholders, not a few, like the Richmond Examiner to which I have referred, have admitted, that the whole argument in defence of slavery, becomes utterly worthless the moment the African is proved to be equally a man with the Anglo-Saxon. The temptation therefore, to read the Negro out of the human family is exceedingly strong, and may account somewhat for the repeated attempts on the part of Southern pretenders to science, to cast a doubt over the Scriptural account of the origin of mankind. If the origin and motives of most works, opposing the doctrine of the unity of the human race, could be ascertained, it may be doubted whether one such work could boast an honest parentage. Pride and selfishness, combined with mental power, never want for a theory to justify them -- and when men oppress their fellow-men, the oppressor ever finds, in the character of the oppressed, a full justification for his oppression. Ignorance and depravity, and the inability to rise from degradation to civilization and respectability, are the most usual allegations against the oppressed. The evils most fostered by slavery and oppression, are precisely those which slaveholders and oppressors would transfer from their system to the inherent character of their victims. Thus the very crimes of slavery become slavery's best defence. By making the enslaved a character fit only for slavery, they excuse themselves for refusing to make the slave a freeman. A wholesale method of accomplishing this result, is to overthrow the instinctive consciousness of the common brotherhood of man. For, let it be once granted that the human race are of multitudinous origin, naturally different in their moral, physical, and intellectual capacities, and at once you make plausible a demand for classes, grades and conditions, for different methods of culture, different moral, political, and religious institutions, and a chance is left for slavery, as a necessary institution. The debates in Congress on the Nebraska Bill during the past winter, will show how slaveholders have availed themselves of this doctrine in support of slaveholding. There is no doubt that Messrs. Nott, Glidden, Morton, Smith and Agassiz were duly consulted by our slavery propagating statesmen.

ETHNOLOGICAL UNFAIRNESS TOWARDS THE NEGRO

The lawyers tell us that the credit of a witness is always in order. Ignorance, malice or prejudice, may disqualify a witness, and why not an author? Now, the disposition everywhere evident, among the class of writers alluded to, to separate


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the Negro race from every intelligent nation and tribe in Africa, may fairly be regarded as one proof, that they have staked out the ground beforehand, and that they have aimed to construct a theory in support of a foregone conclusion. The desirableness of isolating the Negro race, and especially of separating them from the various peoples of Northern Africa, is too plain to need a remark. Such isolation would remove stupendous difficulties in the way of getting the Negro in a favourable attitude for the blows of scientific christendom.

Dr. Samuel George Morton may be referred to as a fair sample of American Ethnologists. His very able work "Crania Americana," published in Philadelphia in 1839, is widely read in this country. -- In this great work his contempt for Negroes, is ever conspicuous. I take him as an illustration of what had been alleged as true of his class.

The fact that Egypt was one of the earliest abodes of learning and civilization, is as firmly established as are the everlasting hills, defying, with a calm front the boasted mechanical and architectural skill of the nineteenth century -- smiling serenely on the assaults and the mutations of time, there she stands in overshadowing grandeur, riveting the eye and the mind of the modern world -- upon her, in silent and dreamy wonder -- Greece and Rome -- and through them Europe and America have received their civilization from the ancient Egyptians. This fact is not denied by anybody. But Egypt is in Africa. Pity that it had not been in Europe, or in Asia, or better still in America! Another unhappy circumstance is, that the ancient Egyptians were not white people; but were, undoubtedly, just about as dark in complexion as many in this country who are considered genuine Negroes; and that is not all, their hair was far from being of that graceful lankness which adorns the fair Anglo-Saxon head. But the next best thing, after these defects, is a positive unlikeness to the Negro. Accordingly, our learned author enters into an elaborate argument to prove that the ancient Egyptians were totally distinct from the Negroes, and to deny all relationship between. Speaking of the "Copts and Fellahs," whom everybody knows are descendants of the Egyptians, he says, "The Copts, though now remarkably distinct from the people that surround them, derive from their remote ancestors some mixture of Greek, Arabian, and perhaps even Negro blood." Now, mark the description given of the Egyptians in this same work: "Complexion brown. The nose is straight, excepting the end, where it is rounded and wide; the lips are rather thick, and the hair black and curly." This description would certainly seem to make it safe to suppose the presence of "even Negro blood." A man, in our day, with brown complexion, "nose rounded and wide, lips thick, hair black and curly," would, I think, have no difficulty in getting himself recognized as a Negro!!

The same authority tells us that the "Copts are supposed by Niebuhr, Denon and others, to be the descendants of the ancient Egyptians"; and Dr. Morton adds, that it has often been observed that a strong resemblance may be traced between the Coptic visage and that presented in the ancient mummies and statues. Again, he says, the "Copts can be, at most, but the degenerate remains, both physically and intellectually, of that mighty people who have claimed the admiration of all ages." Speaking of the Nubians, Dr. Morton says, (page 26,) --


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"The hair of the Nubian is thick and black -- often curled, either by nature or art, and sometimes partially frizzled, but never woolly."

Again: --

"Although the Nubians occasionally present their national characters unmixed, they generally show traces of their social intercourse with the Arabs, and even with the Negroes."

The repetition of the adverb here, "even," is important, as showing the spirit in which our great American Ethnologist pursues his work, and what deductions may be justly made from the value of his researches on that account. In everything touching the Negro, Dr. Morton, in his "Crania Americana," betrays the same spirit. He thinks that the Sphinx was not the representative of an Egyptian Deity, but was a shrine, worshiped at by the degraded Negroes of Egypt; and this fact he alleges as the secret of the mistake made by Volney, in supposing that the Egyptians were real Negroes. The absurdity of this assertion will be very apparent, in view of the fact that the great Sphinx in question was the chief of a series, full two miles in length. Our author again repels the supposition that the Egyptians were related to Negroes, by saying there is no mention made of color by the historian, in relating the marriage of Solomon with Pharaoh's daughter; and with genuine American feeling, he says, such a circumstance as the marrying of an European monarch with the daughter of a Negro would not have been passed over in silence in our day. This is a sample of the reasoning of men who reason from prejudice rather than from facts. It assumes that a black skin in the East excites the same prejudice which we see here in the West. Having denied all relationship of the Negro to the ancient Egyptians, with characteristic American assumption, he says, "It is easy to prove, that whatever may have been the hue of their skin, they belong to the same race with ourselves."

Of course, I do not find fault with Dr. Morton, or any other American, for claiming affinity with Egyptians. All that goes in that direction belongs to my side of the question, and is really right.

The leaning here indicated is natural enough, and may be explained by the fact, that an educated man in Ireland ceases to be an Irishman; and an intelligent black man is always supposed to have derived his intelligence from his connection with the white race. To be intelligent is to have one's Negro blood ignored.

There is, however, a very important physiological fact, contradicting this last assumption; and that fact is, that intellect is uniformly derived from the maternal side. Mulattoes, in this country, may almost wholly boast of Anglo-Saxon male ancestry.

It is the province of prejudice to blind; and scientific writers, not less than others, write to please, as well as to instruct, and even unconsciously to themselves, (sometimes,) sacrifice what is true to what is popular. Fashion is not confined to dress; but extends to philosophy as well -- and it is fashionable now, in our land, to exaggerate the differences between the Negro and the European. If, for instance, a phrenologist, or naturalist undertakes to represent in portraits, the


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differences between the two races -- the Negro and the European -- he will invariably present the highest type of the European, and the lowest type of the Negro.

The European face is drawn in harmony with the highest ideas of beauty, dignity and intellect. Features regular and brow after the Websterian mold. The Negro, on the other hand, appears with features distorted, lips exaggerated, forehead depressed -- and the whole expression of the countenance made to harmonize with the popular idea of Negro imbecility and degradation. I have seen many pictures of Negroes and Europeans, in phrenological and ethnological works; and all, or nearly all, excepting the work of Dr. Prichard, and that other great work, Combs' Constitution of Man, have been more or less open to this objection. I think I have never seen a single picture in an American work, designed to give an idea of the mental endowments of the Negro, which did any thing like justice to the subject; nay, that was not infamously distorted. The heads of A. Crummel, Henry H. Garnet, Sam'l R. Ward, Chas. Lenox Remond, W. J. Wilson, J. W. Penington, J. I. Gaines, M. R. Delany, J. W. Loguen, J. M. Whitfield, J. C. Holly, and hundreds of others I could mention, are all better formed, and indicate the presence of intellect more than any pictures I have seen in such works; and while it must be admitted that there are Negroes answering the description given by the American ethnologists and others, of the Negro race, I contend that there is every description of head among them, ranging from the highest Indoo Caucasian downward. If the very best type of the European is always presented, I insist that justice, in all such works, demands that the very best type of the Negro should also be taken. The importance of this criticism may not be apparent to all; -- to the black man it is very apparent. He sees the injustice, and writhes under its sting. But to return to Dr. Morton, or rather to the question of the affinity of the Negroes to the Egyptians.

It seems to me that a man might as well deny the affinity of the American to the Englishman, as to deny such affinity between the Negro and the Egyptian. He might make out as many points of difference, in the case of the one as in that of the other. Especially could this be done, if, like ethnologists, in given cases, only typical specimens were resorted to. The lean, slender American, pale and swarthy, if exposed to the sun, wears a very different appearance to the full, round Englishman, of clear, blonde complexion. One may trace the progress of this difference in the common portraits of the American Presidents. Just study those faces, beginning with Washington; and as you come thro' the Jeffersons, the Adamses, and the Madisons, you will find an increasing bony and wiry appearance about those portraits, & a greater remove from that serene amplitude which characterises the countenances of the earlier Presidents. I may be mistaken, but I think this is a correct index of the change going on in the nation at large -- converting Englishmen, Germans, Irishmen, and Frenchmen, into Americans, and causing them to lose, in a common American character, all traces of their former distinctive national peculiarities.

AUTHORITIES AS TO THE RESEMBLANCE OF THE EGYPTIANS TO NEGROES

Now, let us see what the best authorities say, as to the personal appearance of the Egyptians. I think it will be at once admitted, that while they differ very strongly from the Negro, debased and enslaved, that difference is not greater


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than may be observed in other quarters of the globe, among people notoriously belonging to the same variety, the same original stock; in a word, to the same family. If it shall be found that the people of Africa have an African character, as general, as well defined, and as distinct, as have the people of Europe, or the people of Asia, the exceptional differences among them afford no ground for supposing a difference of race; but, on the contrary, it will be inferred that the people of Africa constitute one great branch of the human family, whose origin may be as properly referred to the families of Noah, as can be any other branch of the human family, from whom they differ. Denon, in his `Travels in Egypt,' describes the Egyptians, as of full, but "delicate and voluptuous forms, countenances sedate and placid, round and soft features, with eyes long and almond shaped, half shut and languishing and turned up at the outer angles, as if habitually fatigued by the light and heat of the sun; cheeks round; thick lips, full and prominent; mouth large, but cheerful and smiling; complexion dark, ruddy and coppery, and the whole aspect displaying -- as one of the most graphic delineators among modem travelers has observed -- the genuine African character, of which the Negro is the exaggerated and extreme representation." Again, Prichard says, (page 152,) --

"Herodotus traveled in Egypt, and was, therefore, well acquainted with the people from personal observation. He does not say anything directly, as to the descriptions of their persons, which were too well known to the Greeks to need such an account, but his indirect testimony is very strongly expressed. After mentioning a tradition, that the people of Colchis were a colony from Egypt, Herodotus says, that `there was one fact strongly in favor of this opinion -- the Colchians were black in complexion and woolly haired.'"

These are the words by which the complexion and hair of Negroes are described. In another passage, he says that

"The pigeon, said to have fled to Dodona, and to have founded the Oracle, was declared to be black, and that the meaning of the story was this: The Oracle was, in reality, founded by a female captive from the Thebaid; she was black, being an Egyptian."

"Other Greek writers," says Pritchard, "have expressed themselves in similar terms."

Those who have mentioned the Egyptians as a swarthy people, according to Prichard, might as well have applied the term black to them, since they were doubtless of a chocolate color. The same author brings together the testimony of Eschylus and others as to the color of the ancient Egyptians, all corresponding, more or less, with the foregoing. Among the most direct testimony educed by Prichard, is, first that of Volney, who, speaking of the modern Copts, says:

"They have a puffed visage, swollen eyes, flat nose, and thick lips, and bear much resemblance to mulattoes."

Baron Larrey says, in regard to the same people:

"They have projecting check bones, dilating nostrils, thick lips, and hair and beard black and crisp."


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Mr. Ledyard, (whose testimony, says our learned authority, is of the more value, as he had no theory to support,) says:

"I suspect the Copts to have been the origin of the Negro race; the nose and lips correspond with those of the Negro; the hair, wherever I can see it among the people here, is curled, not like that of the Negroes, but like the mulattoes."

Here I leave our learned authorities, as to the resemblance of the Egyptians to Negroes.

It is not in my power, in a discourse of this sort, to adduce more than a very small part of the testimony in support of a near relationship between the present enslaved and degraded Negroes, and the ancient highly civilized and wonderfully endowed Egyptians. Sufficient has already been adduced, to show a marked similarity in regard to features, hair, color, and I doubt not that the philologist can find equal similarity in the structures of their languages. In view of the foregoing, while it may not be claimed that the ancient Egyptians were Negroes, -- viz: -- answering, in all respects, to the nations and tribes ranged under the general appellation, Negro; still, it may safely be affirmed, that a strong affinity and a direct relationship may be claimed by the Negro race, to that grandest of all the nations of antiquity, the builders of the pyramids.

But there are other evidences of this relationship, more decisive than those alledged in a general similarity of personal appearance. Language is held to be very important, by the best ethnologists, in tracing out the remotest affinities of nations, tribes, classes and families. The color of the skin has sometimes been less enduring than the speech of a people. I speak by authority, and follow in the footsteps of some of the most learned writers on the natural and ethnological history of man, when I affirm that one of the most direct and conclusive proofs of the general affinity of Northern African nations, with those of West, East and South Africa, is found in the general similarity of their language. The philologist easily discovers, and is able to point out something like the original source of the multiplied tongues now in use in that yet mysterious quarter of the globe. Dr. R. G. Latham, F. R. S., corresponding member of the Ethnological Society, New York -- in his admirable work, entitled "Man and his Migrations" -- says:

"In the languages of Abyssinia, the Gheez and Tigre, admitted, as long as they have been known at all, to be Semitic, graduate through the Amharic, the Talasha, the Harargi, the Gafat and other languages, which may be well studied in Dr. Beke's valuable comparative tables, into the Agow tongue, unequivocally indigenous to Abyssinia, and through this into the true Negro classes. But, unequivocal as may be the Semitic elements of the Berber, Coptic and Galla, their affinities with the tongues of Western and Southern Africa are more so. I weigh my words when I say, not equally, but more; changing the expression, for every foot in advance which can be made towards the Semitic tongues in one direction, the African philologist can go a yard towards the Negro ones in the other."

In a note, just below this remarkable statement, Dr. Latham says:

"A short table of the Berber and Coptic, as compared with the other African tongues, may be seen in the Classical Museum of the British Association, for 1846. In the Transactions of the Philological Society is a grammatical sketch of the Tumali language, by


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Dr. S. Tutshek of Munich. The Tumali is a truly Negro language, of Kordufan; whilst, in respect to the extent to which its inflections are formed, by internal changes of vowels and accents, it is fully equal to the Semitic tongues of Palestine and Arabia."

This testimony may not serve prejudice, but to me it seems quite sufficient.

SUPERFICIAL OBJECTIONS

Let us now glance again at the opposition. A volume, on the Natural History of the Human Species, by Charles Hamilton Smith, quite false in many of its facts, and as mischievous as false, has been published recently in this country, and will, doubtless, be widely circulated, especially by those to whom the thought of human brotherhood is abhorrent. This writer says, after mentioning sundry facts touching the dense and spherical structure of the Negro head:

"This very structure may influence the erect gait, which occasions the practice common also to the Ethiopian, or mixed nations, of carrying burdens and light weights, even to a tumbler full of water, upon the head."

No doubt this seemed a very sage remark to Mr. Smith, and quite important in fixing a character to the Negro skull, although different to that of Europeans. But if the learned Mr. Smith had stood, previous to writing it, at our door (a few days in succession), he might have seen hundreds of Germans and of Irish people, not bearing burdens of "light weight," but of heavy weight, upon the same vertical extremity. The carrying of burdens upon the head is as old as Oriental Society; and the man writes himself a blockhead, who attempts to find in the custom a proof of original difference. On page 227, the same writer says:

"The voice of the Negroes is feeble and hoarse in the male sex."

The explanation of this mistake in our author, is found in the fact, that an oppressed people, in addressing their superiors -- perhaps I ought to say, their oppressors -- usually assume a minor tone, as less likely to provoke the charge of intrusiveness. But it is ridiculous to pronounce the voice of the Negro feeble; and the learned ethnologist must be hard pushed, to establish differences, when he refers to this as one. Mr. Smith further declares, that

"The typical woolly haired races have never discovered an alphabet, framed a grammatical language, nor made the least step in science or art."

Now, the man is still living (or was but a few years since), among the Mandingoes of the Western coast of Africa, who has framed an alphabet; and while Mr. Smith may be pardoned for his ignorance of that fact, as an ethnologist, he is inexcusable for not knowing that the Mpongwe language, spoken on both sides of the Gaboon River, at Cape Lopez, Cape St. Catharine, and in the interior, to the distance of two or three hundred miles, is as truly a grammatically framed language as any extant. I am indebted, for this fact, to Rev. Dr. M. B. Anderson, President of the Rochester University; and by his leave, here is the Grammar -- [holding up the Grammar.] Perhaps, of all the attempts ever made to disprove the unity of the human family, and to brand the Negro with natural inferiority, the most compendious and barefaced is the book, entitled "Types of Mankind,"


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by Nott and Glidden. One would be well employed, in a series of Lectures, directed to an exposure of the unsoundness, if not the wickedness of this work.

THE AFRICAN RACE BUT ONE PEOPLE

But I must hasten. Having shown that the people of Africa are, probably, one people; that each tribe bears an intimate relation to other tribes and nations in that quarter of the globe, and that the Egyptians may have flung off the different tribes seen there at different times, as implied by the evident relations of their language, and by other similarities; it can hardly be deemed unreasonable to suppose, that the African branch of the human species -- from the once highly civilized Egyptian to the barbarians on the banks of the Niger -- may claim brotherhood with the great family of Noah, spreading over the more Northern and Eastern parts of the globe. I will now proceed to consider those physical peculiarities of form, features, hair and color, which are supposed by some men to mark the African, not only as an inferior race, but as a distinct species, naturally and originally different from the rest of mankind, and as really to place him nearer to the brute than to man.

THE EFFECT OF CIRCUMSTANCES UPON THE PHYSICAL MAN

I may remark, just here, that it is impossible, even were it desirable, in a discourse like this, to attend to the anatomical and physiological argument connected with this part of the subject. I am not equal to that, and if I were, the occasion does not require it. The form of the Negro -- [I use the term Negro, precisely in the sense that you use the term Anglo Saxon; and I believe, too, that the former will one day be as illustrious as the latter] -- has often been the subject of remark. His flat feet, long arms, high cheek bones and retreating forehead, are especially dwelt upon, to his disparagement, and just as if there were no white people with precisely the same peculiarities. I think it will ever be found, that the well or ill condition of any part of mankind, will leave its mark on the physical as well as on the intellectual part of man. A hundred instances might be cited, of whole families who have degenerated, and others who have improved in personal appearance, by a change of circumstances. A man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well. I told a boot maker, in New Castle upon Tyne, that I had been a plantation slave. He said I must pardon him; but he could not believe it; no plantation laborer ever had a high instep. He said he had noticed, that the coal heavers and work people in low condition, had, for the most part, flat feet, and that he could tell, by the shape of the feet, whether a man's parents were in high or low condition. The thing was worth a thought, and I have thought of it, and have looked around me for facts. There is some truth in it; though there are exceptions, in individual cases.

[The day I landed in Ireland, nine years ago, I addressed] (in company with Father Spratt, and that good man who has been recently made the subject of bitter attack; I allude to the philanthropic James Haughton, of Dublin) [a large meeting of the common people of Ireland, on temperance. Never did human faces tell a sadder tale. More than five thousand were assembled; and I say, with no wish to wound the feelings of any Irishman, that these people lacked only a


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black skin and woolly hair, to complete their likeness to the plantation Negro. The open, uneducated mouth -- the long, gaunt arm -- the badly formed foot and ankle -- the shuffling gait -- the retreating forehead and vacant expression -- and, their petty quarrels and fights -- all reminded me of the plantation, and my own cruelly abused people.] Yet, that is the land of Grattan, of Curran, of O'Connell, and of Sheridan. [Now, while what I have said is true of the common people, the fact is, there are no more really handsome people in the world, than the educated Irish people. The Irishman educated, is a model gentleman; the Irishman ignorant and degraded, compares in form and feature, with the Negro!]

I am stating facts. If you go into Southern Indiana, you will see what climate and habit can do, even in one generation. The man may have come from New England, but his hard features, sallow complexion, have left little of New England on his brow. The right arm of the blacksmith is said to be larger and stronger than his left. The ship carpenter is at forty round shouldered. The shoemaker carries the marks of his trade. One locality becomes famous for one thing, another for another. Manchester and Lowell, in America, Manchester and Sheffield, in England, attest this. But what does it all prove? Why, nothing positively, as to the main point; still it raises the inquiry -- May not the condition of men explain their various appearances? Need we go behind the vicissitudes of barbarism for an explanation of the gaunt, wiry, apelike appearance of some of the genuine Negroes? Need we look higher than a vertical sun, or lower than the damp, black soil of the Niger, the Gambia, the Senegal, with their heavy and enervating miasma, rising ever from the rank growing and decaying vegetation, for an explanation of the Negro's color? If a cause, full and adequate, can be found here, why seek further?

The Eminent Dr. Latham, already quoted, says that nine tenths of the white population of the globe are found between 30 and 65 degrees North latitude. Only about one fifth of all the inhabitants of the globe are white; and they are as far from the Adamic complexion as is the Negro. The remainder are -- what? Ranging all the way from the brunette to jet black. There are the red, the reddish copper color, the yellowish, the dark brown, the chocolate color, and so on, to the jet black. On the mountains on the North of Africa, where water freezes in winter at times, branches of the same people who are black in the valley are white on the mountains. The Nubian, with his beautiful curly hair, finds it becoming frizzled, crisped, and even woolly, as he approaches the great Sahara. The Portuguese, white in Europe, is brown in Asia. The Jews, who are to be found in all countries, never intermarrying, are white in Europe, brown in Asia, and black in Africa. Again, what does it all prove? Nothing, absolutely; nothing which places the question beyond dispute; but it does justify the conjecture before referred to, that outward circumstances may have something to do with modifying the various phases of humanity; and that color itself is at the control of the world's climate and its various concomitants. It is the sun that paints the peach -- and may it not be, that he paints the man as well? My reading, on this point, however, as well as my own observation, have convinced me, that from the beginning the Almighty, within certain limits, endowed mankind with organizations capable of countless variations in form, feature and color, without having it necessary to begin a new creation for every new variety.


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A powerful argument in the favor of the oneness of the human family, is afforded in the fact that nations, however dissimilar, may be united in one social state, not only without detriment to each other, but, most clearly, to the advancement of human welfare, happiness and perfection. While it is clearly proved, on the other hand, that those nations fre