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Frederick Douglass to Amy Post, April 28, 1846

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FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO AMY POST1Amy Post (1802–89) was born Amy Kirby in Jericho, New York. In 1828 she married Isaac Post, a druggist and the husband of her deceased sister. The Posts became involved with Garrisonian abolitionism and the Underground Railroad after they moved to Rochester in 1835. Amy also acted as a vice president of the American Anti-Slavery Society in the 1850s and 1860s. Douglass first met the couple when he stayed at their home during a lecture tour in 1842, and their friendship influenced his choice of Rochester as the base for his newspaper, the North Star. In addition to abolitionism, Amy Post participated in a broad range of reforms, including the women’s movement, which began at the convention that she helped to organize in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Nancy A. Hewitt, Women’s Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York, 1822–1872 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1984), 116–17, 119–20, 140, 143, 184, 230–31; Blake McKelvey, “Civic Medals Awarded Posthumously,” RH, 22:10 (April 1960).

[Edinburgh, Scot.] 28 April 1846.

MY DEAR FRIEND

I have received yours2Amy Post’s letter to Douglass has not been located. directed to me in care of Elizebeth Pease,3Elizabeth Pease (1807–97), from Darlington, in the north of England, was the daughter of the first Quaker member of Parliament. She organized one of the first antislavery societies in England and was among the foremost correspondents between the American and British abolitionist movements. At the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840, she allied with the Garrisonians and began to support an agenda that included rights for women. Her vision expanded to encompass not only the emancipation of all slaves, but also other issues of social justice, including the humane treatment of the native people of India, independence for eastern and central European nations in the Austro-Hungarian empire, opposition to the opium trade, and support for laws to benefit the poor in England. In 1853 she married astronomer John Pringle Nichol, but was widowed six years later. She continued her activism and interest in all aspects of emancipation until her death in 1897. Anna M. Stoddard, Elizabeth Pease Nichol (London, 1899); Karen I. Halbersleben, Women's Participation in the British Antislavery Movement, 1824–1865 (Lewiston, N.Y., 1993), 39, 65, 70, 78, 105, 156, 182, 189–90. Darlington. In regard to the buisness Part of it, I have to say that such is the distance between the two countries and the length of time required to establish relations of confidence, That I cannot hope to do much for the Society which you represent4The women of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, led by Amy Post, followed the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society’s example of holding an antislavery fundraising fair each year, selling goods donated by antislavery sewing circles and abolitionist societies. Although they hoped to rival their Boston sisters in their fundraising efforts, the Rochester fair never attained the popularity of its Boston counterpart. Hewitt, Women’s Activism and Social Change, 116–18, 120–21, 251–52; Chambers-Schiller, “Boston Antislavery Fair,” 252–53.—in the way you suggest During the short time I shall have to remain here. All the abolitionists whom I should hope to interest in your fair—have their efforts now Pledged to the Bazaar at Boston. I can-not But admier the persevereence and determination which you indicate in the course you have marked out. I hope you will go on and hold the fair—and I have no Doubt that Mrs. Chapman5Maria Weston Chapman. will aid you to whatever foregn articles the society has on hand. Meanwhile I will do all I can for you in such circles as I can have the slightest hope of getting any thing from. It is very difficult to turn off attention from one Society to another[.] It is even hazardious to do so in this instance. While the Boston Bazaar is devoted to the whole cause—and is so regarded by our few friends here It is not easy to get them interested in another fair though it be equally good and devoted to the interest of the same cause.

Now Dear friend, I must say a few hurried words to you in the way of friendship. I have often thought of my promise to write you and hardly know what to say in apology for not writing. I own and confess my neglect and throw myself upon your charity that to my cirtain belief thinketh no evil61 Cor. 13:4–5. and will therefore put the best construction upon my silence. I have many friends in the United States to whom it would give me great pleasure to write by every Packet—but such is the press of immediate engage—

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ments that I am compelled to be silent[.] I was very happy to get a letter from you—in any capacity—whither in the dignafied capacity of a Secretary—or the more endearing capacity of a sincere and affectionate friend[.] Amy your family was always Dear—very Dear to me. You loved me and treated me as a brother before the world knew me as it now does—& when my friends were fewer than they now are, and let me tell you that I never loved and admired you more, than since I last met you in Rochester.7Douglass had last visited Rochester when he spoke there on 23 and 24 July 1845.

My Dear Amy, it was a trial to me but it was a much greater one to you[.] Pardon me for this allusion, but I can’t help thinking of it, sometimes[.] You may however believe me that Isaac8Isaac Post (1798–1872) was born in Long Island, but moved to Scipio, New York, in 1823 with his first wife, Hannah Kirby. After Hannah’s death in 1827, Isaac married her younger sister, Amy Kirby, and moved to Rochester in 1836. In 1848 the Posts, originally Hicksite Quakers, became early converts to spiritualism, and Isaac soon attracted fame as a writing medium. In 1852 he published a work titled Voices from the Spirit World, being Communications from Many Spirits, by the hand of Isaac Post, Medium, which included messages allegedly from the spirits of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, along with other famous figures from history. DAB, 15:117. is as Dear to me—as if that mistake had never been committed. Oh! how glad I should be could I but look in upon you all. Could I but clasp your kind hands and look you all full in the face, yea more mingle my voice with yours in the discussions of the many interesting subjects which are constantly presenting themselves to your consideration. My Dear Amy I am living a singular life. Every thing is so different here from what I have been accustomed to in the United States. No insults to encounter—no prejudice to encounter, but all is smooth. I am treated as a man an equal brother[.] My color instead of being a barrier to social equality—is not thought of as such. I am every where treated with the greatest kindness—by all with whom I come in contact. The change is wonderful. I am sometimes fearful it will unfit me for the proslavery kicks and cuffs at homer—but I hope not. Indeed it may enable me to indure the more easily knowing from experience that the spirit which induces them is only the result of the infernal system of slavery, and that when that system falls—as fall it must this contemptible narrow souled feeling must also go by the board. God speed the day.

I am now in Edenburgh (Scotland) It is a beautiful city, the most beuatiful I ever saw—not so much on account of the buildings as on account of its picturesque position. I have no time even had I the ability to discribe it. I am puting up at the “york hotel.’ There sets Geo. Thompson By the window and there sets James N Buffum near the fire. We came here yesterday from Glasgow—and shall lecture here this evening.9Douglass delivered a speech in Paisley on 25 April 1846, and another in Edinburgh on 1 May 1846. Glasgow Saturday Post, 2 May 1846; Edinburgh Scottish Herald, 9 May 1846; Lib., 29 May 1846. Scotland is all in a blaze of antislavery excitement—in consequence of our exposures of the proslavery conduct of the free church of Scotland.

You may have seen from the letter of H. C. Wright the grounds of our complaint against the free church10Henry C. Wright wrote letters that were published in the Liberator concerning the Free Church of Scotland controversy. Lib, 27 February, 3 April 1846. and I need not therefore tell you. We have strong hope of making that body send back the money.

Please Dear Amy make my warm and sincere love to Isaac Post—Mary11Mary Hallowell (1823–1913) was the daughter of Isaac Post and his first wife, Hannah. Mary and her husband, William, numbered among Douglass’s circle of friends in Rochester and actively participated in the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society. She was also a member of local temperance and women’s rights organizations, and acted as an agent for the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1865. Hewitt, Women’s Activism and Social Change, 61, 131, 163, 209–10. and Sarah12Sarah Kirby Hallowell (1818–1914) was the sister of Amy Post and the widow of Jeffries Hallowell. Active in the antislavery movement, Sarah joined the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society in 1842 and was one of Douglass’s supporters and personal friends in Rochester. FDP, 22 April 1852; Douglass to Mary Hallowell, 10 April 1882, Post Family Papers, NRU; Hewitt, Women's Activism and Social Change, 61. Hallowell also to my Dear Friend William.13Arriving in Rochester in 1841, William R. Hallowell (1816–82) ran a woolen mill and leather business. The husband of Mary Hallowell, he was a member of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, as well as serving on the board of education in Rochester. William F. Peck, History of Rochester and Monroe County, New York, 2 vols. (New York, 1908), 2:1243–44; Hewitt, Women’s Activism and Social Change, 61. Indeed

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to all our antislavery family in Rochester I hope to imbrace you all in the course of a few fleeting months

In great haste, I am most sincerely yours

FREDERICK DOUGLASS

ALS: Post Family Papers, NRU.

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Date

April 28, 1846

Type

Publication Status

Published