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Frederick Douglass to Francis Jackson, January 29, 1846

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FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO FRANCIS JACKSON1A leading figure among Boston Garrisonians, Francis Jackson (1789—1861) was president of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society from 1837 until his death and secretary of the Boston Vigilance Committee in the 1850s. He presided over the 1841 Nantucket convention where Douglass launched his abolitionist career. Born in Newton, Massachusetts, Jackson moved to Boston as a young man to become a prosperous merchant and minor city government official. Jackson’s considerable wealth was frequently put at Garrison's disposal to keep the Liberator in print. Lib., 22 November 1861; Stewart, William Lloyd Garrison, 128-31; ACAB, 3:386; NCAB, 2:318.

Dundee, Scot.2The placeline of the letter also includes “Royal Hotel.” Jan[uary] 1846.

MY DEAR FRIEND, JACKSON
I have been long promissing myself the pleasure of sending you a line from this side the sea, but have been compelled to deny my self in consequence of emmediate 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 steped out of obscurity on the Antslavery platform at Nantucket3Douglass spoke at a special meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, held in Nantucket, Massachusetts, 10-12 August 1841. He began his speech just before the evening adjournment on 11 August and resumed at 9:30 A.M. the next morning. At the conclusion of the convention, John A. Collins, the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s general agent, invited Douglass to go on the lecture circuit to tell of his life in bondage. Lib, 20 August 1841. to the day I steped 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 Richmonds brass foundry in New Bedford4Anthony D. Richmond and Andrew Cragie operated the A. D. Richmond and Company brass-founders and coppersmiths shop, located at 103 North Water Street in New Bedford. The shop was still open in 1865, when it produced bolts, spikes, nails, and eyebolts, as well as. plumbing supplies such as water-closets, shower-baths, and bath tubs. The establishment also specialized in the custom production of “Richmond’s Patent Composition Lead and Brass Tipped Candle Moulds.” Henry H. Crapo, New Bedford Directory [for 1865] (New Bedford, 1865), 118.—when I was regarded and treated as a being to be dispised—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 your self 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 old 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 what has been poured into song, or a hill that is not associated with some firce and bloody conflict between liberty and slavery. I had a view the other day of what are called the Grampion mountains5The Grampians are a mountain range in Scotland running southwest to northeast across the country and dividing the Scottish Lowlands from the Highlands. Seltzer, Gazetteer of the World, 704. that devide east Scotland from the west. I was told that here the ancient crowned heads use to meet, contend and struggle in deadly conflict for supremacy, causing those grand old hills to run blood, each warming cold steal in the others heart. My soul sickens at the thought yet I see in myself all those elements of character which were I to yeild 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

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gained by instruments of death. A higher, anobler a mightier than carnal weapon is placed into our hands—one which hurls defiance at all the improvements of carnal warfare. It is the rightious appeal to the understanding and the heart—with this we can withstand the most firey 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 knawing of a guilty concience.
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 emportant to expend as much labor here as posible. 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 disgourge their ill gotten gain—return it to the Slaveholders. Our rallying cry is “No union with Slaveholders6Garrisonians began using the rallying cry “No Union with Slaveholders!” at the 1844 meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society. There, Garrison proposed several resolutions to adopt such a policy. A bitter debate ensued, dividing the convention, but the role passed in a 59 to 21 vote. The motto, often used by Garrison, attracted some sympathetic attention in Scotland and Britain and later appeared on the mastheads of the Anti—Slavery Bugle and the Liberator. At first the idea. signified adherence to a belief that the US. Constitution was a proslavery document, that the Union therefore ought to be dissolved, and that an immediate break from complicity in the nation’s slaveholding was required. With the annexation of Texas, however, and with pressure from political aholitionists. to elaborate on his position, Garrison later associated the slogan with actual plans for secession. Walter M. Merrill, Against Wind and Tide: A Biography of William Lloyd Garrison (Cambridge, Mass., 1963), 204–14, 255, 269–75; Russell E. Nye, William Lloyd Garrison and the Humanitarian Reformers (Boston, 1955), 143; Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 3:96–120; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:118–21; Thomas, Liberator, 328–59, 374 and send back the bloodstained money.[”]7Abolitionists from both the United States and England argued that money donated to the Free Church of Scotland by Presbyterians from the southern states had been earned by the labor of slaves and was therefore tainted with the immorality of slavery. Although the Free Church condemned slavery in theory, its leadership was unwilling to alienate its benefactors in the South. “Send back the money” became the cry of the antislavery advocates in demanding that the Free Church take a stronger stand against slavery. Throughout their winter tour of Scotland in 1846, Douglass and James N. Buffum rallied opponents of both slavery and the Free Church, filling their speeches with the slogan. Although they forced advocates of the Free Church to defend their position, they also alienated the church’s leadership, who did not “send back the money.” A. Allan MacLaren, Religion and Social Class: The Disruption Years in Aberdeen (London, 1974), 29—30; George Shepperson, “Frederick Douglass and Scotland,” JNH, 38:314 (July 1953). 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 arragned before the the Scotish people by such th[or]ough Garrisonians as H C. Wright8Henry C. Wright James N. Buffum, and myself she would never have taken the money. She thought to get the gold and no body see her. It was a sad mistake. It would indeed be a grand Antislavery triumph if we could get her to send back the money. It would break upon the confounded Slaveholders and their [illegible] like a clap from the sky.—We shall con[tin]ue to deal our blows upon her—crying-out disgorge—disgorge—disgorge your horrid plunder and to this cry thus far 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.9In late 1845 the Irish printer Richard D. Webb published 2,000 copies of Douglass’s Narra
tive. By November 1845, 500 copies had sold, and all had been purchased by March 1846. Because of the success of this edition, Webb brought out a second edition in February 1846. Douglass Papers, ser. 2, 1:87–88; Foner, Life and Writings, 1:59–62; Harrison, Richard Davis Webb, 50.
I realize enough from it to meet my expences. 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 “nigger’ 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 a half a negro, at any rate. My old Fr[iend] 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 currant thus far

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nobly. I have received letters from America expressing fears that I may be spoild by the attentions 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 proslavery. Indeed I shall rejoice in the day that shall see me again by your side, battling the enemy, and I should rejoice in it, even though I were to be subjected to all the regulations of colorphobia with which we used encounter. I glory in the fight as well as in the victory. Make my love to all your family.
Gratefully yours,

FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

ALS: Anti-Slavery Collection, MB. PLSr: Foner, Lore and Writings, 1:135—37. PLeSr: Taylor, British and American Abolitionists, 248.

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Date

January 29, 1846

Type

Publication Status

Published