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Frederick Douglass to Richard Dowden (Richard), November 11, 1845


FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO RICHARD DOWDEN (RICHARD)1Richard Dowden (Richard) (1794–1861), who distinguished himself from numerous local Dowdens by the addition of the second Richard to his name, managed a soda-water firm and served as Cork’s mayor in 1845. A Unitarian and an early supporter of temperance, he and two other Protestants, Nicholas Dunscombe and William Martin, led the Cork Total Abstinence Society prior to the rise of Father Theobald Mathew. Dowden was also a philanthropist, acting as a poor-law guardian and strongly supporting Daniel O'Connell. In an 1848 letter to Douglass, Dowden identified himself as a Whig-Radical, urging the United States to lead the world by example through its republican institutions. NS, 21 April 1848; The County and City of Cork Post Office General Directory, 1842–1843 (1842; Sydney, Aus., 1996), 26; Ian D'Alton, Protestant Society and Politics in Cork, 1812–1844 (Cork, Ire., 1980), 85; Kerrigan, Father Mathew, 46; Paul A. Townsend, "Regenerating the Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Cork Total Abstinence Society, 1838–1848" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1999).

Limerick, [Ire.] 11 Nov[ember] 1845.

Richard Dowden (R.)

Mayor of Cork.


Allow me to express to you as well as words can, my deep sense of the


obligations I am under to yourself, for the many attentions which you were pleased to show me during my somewhat protracted stay in the city of which you are the highly honord chief executive officer.

I think I am too well acquainted with the motives that guided you in your kind offices toward me—for a moment to suppose you desirous of such an expression from me. Indeed I know you require no such expression at my hand, and I am therefore the more anxcious to do it—not however for for the purpose of rewarding you for that I am persuaded you have already in the impartial testimony of a good concience. I do it my dear sir, to ease a heart swelling with gratitude.

Trampled, reviled and maltreated as I have been by white people During the most of my life—early taught to regard myself, their divinely appointed prey, and ever looking upon such as my natural eneimeis,—you may readily emagine the grateful emotions that thrill my heart when I meet with facts—forever dispelling the darkness of such infurnal doctrines.

I have travelled a great deal during the last for years—and and have met with many benefactors. But never have I met with one, in your station, having so many public cares and weighty responsibilities to bear and yet so ready—so willing and anxcious to devote time talent and official influence to the advancement of benevolent objects as yourself.

I speak just what I feel—and what all who are acquainted with the facts will confess to be true, when I say that to your’s and the deep interest which the Miss Jennings’s2While in Cork, Douglass stayed with Ann and Thomas Jennings and their eight children. Their daughters, Charlotte, Helen, Isabel, and Jane, were active in the Cork Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society and collected contributions for the Boston Anti-Slavery Bazaar. Isabel Jennings served as co-secretary of the society and later supported Douglass's newspaper through donations to the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Bazaar. Taylor, British and American Abolitionists, 159, 243–44; Patricia J. Ferreira, "Frederick Douglass in Ireland: The Dublin Edition of his Narrative," New Hibernia Review, 5:57 (Spring 2001); Ellen M. Oldham, "Irish Support of the Abolitionist Movement," Boston Public Library Quarterly, 10:175–80 (October 1958). took in me and my mission, I am almost entirely endebted for the success which attended my humble efforts while in the good city of Cork.—I shall ever remember my visit with pleasure. And never shall I think of Cork—without—remembering that yourself and the kind Friends just named constituted the sourse from whense flowed much of the light, life and warmth of humanity which I found in that good city.

I received the token of your esteem which you sent. I have it on the little finger of my right hand. I never wore one—or had the disposition to do so before. I shall wear this, and prize it as the representative of the holy feelings with which you espoused and advocated my humble cause.

Please make my regard to Mrs. Dowden and to Miss Susan.3Mary Clear Dowden was the daughter of William Clear of Cork and Bandon, Ireland. She and Richard Dowden (Richard) had one daughter, presumably the "Miss Susan" mentioned in this letter. D'Alton, Protestant Society and Politics in Cork, 85.

And believe me Most gratefully yours,


ALS: Day Papers, Cork Archives Institute.



November 11, 1845


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