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Frederick Douglass to Wendell Phillips, April 28, 1846



Glasgow, [Scot.] 28 April 1846.


I am glad to hear from you in any capacity, whither it Be in the dignified character of a committee of one, or in the affectionate character of a sincere friend. I have often thought of writing you a friendly letter since I came to this country, and have only been deterred from assuming so much by my great inferiority to yourself. Do not scold me, for this, for I tell you the truth when I say that I have for you such grateful regard and admiration—that I can not bring myself to approach you familiarly. You have been to me—a brother—but so much more than a brother—in imparting to me information and good counsel that I feel more like a diciple to you, than a familiar friend. And this is by no means a painful feeling. I love to look up to you as such. Your advice to me on leaving the united states for this country I have strictly adhered to. I have not gone Near the London Committee.1The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. I have acted in in every way independent of them, and as if they did not exist. This course has made my path any thing but easy thus far—so far as the good opinion of that committee and those who sympathize with it is concirned. They look upon me—with the same feelings—with which they regarded yourself and Mr. Garrison in 1840[.] Still I have no reason to complain. I have got on thus far much better than I anticipated. I have sold some two thousand copies of my narrative—the proceeds of which together with what has been given me by friends who needed not to be solicited has put me quite at ease—as to travelling expences, which by the way are very great in this country being about double to what they are in the U.S.

But to the buisness. You say C L. Remond has presented a request to the Mass. Board to compensate him for losses in the cause the last four years or so—And among those a horse which died in Pennsylvania—at the time of our one hundred conventions in the west. In regard to this last


item you ask me the following questions. (To wit) 1st Was the purchase of
our horses an economical step &c. &c.

2d Did it enable us to attend more meetings than we otherwise could have done.

3d Were the localities such as friends would not have carried us from Place to place.

4th Was the travelling on horse back such a thing as a man with good judgement could have deemed for the best interest of the cause? Before answering These questions—Allow me to say That Mr. Remond Did not travel with me. Nor was I with him when he bought the horse. He travelled with Mr. Gay & Monroe2Sydney H. Gay and James Monroe. and I with Mr. Bradburn, and White.3George Bradburn and William A. White. I cannot therefore undertake to answer for him as to the need of his buying a horse. I can only answer for myself.—1st I do not think it was an economical step—As the travelling expences of my co-agents—were I believe less than my own. The second inquery and the third may be answered together—as follows. It is difficult to determene Whither in all cases we could have got friends to carry us from place to Place—for when we got horses we had no need of asking them to do—or testing their willingness to do so. The purchase of our horses might have enabled us to attend more meetings—though I believe those who had no horses attended as many meetings as I that had one. The fourth I decline answering. Suffice it to tell you just why I bought a horse at that time. I had nearly completed my western tour—having gone through Indianna and the most of Ohio—and of course had been carried by friends from Place to place—without any further expence than that of occasionally stoping at Hotels. When about to leave Ohio & finding that horse flesh was pretty cheap—I thought it would not be a bad speculation to buy me a horse—with my own money—bringing him on east I supposed I could get a good price for him. I bought one[.] I gave $40! for him, and deeming the labourer worthy of his hire4Luke 10:7.—when I had to put up at hotels, I set his expences down against the society. The faithful beast brought me from southern Ohio to Philadelphia—a distance of 500 miles. There I sold him for $50—to Mr. Purvis5Robert Purvis (1810–98) was a prominent leader of antebellum Philadelphia’s black community and one of the most influential African Americans in the Garrisonian wing of the abolitionist movement. He was the son of Harriet Juda, a free black woman, and William Purvis, a white cotton broker of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1819 Robert moved north with his family to be educated. Upon his father’s death in the mid-1820s, Purvis inherited a substantial fortune, which he used to support a wide array of benevolent causes, including temperance, women’s rights, penal reform, and integrated education. He helped launch the Liberator in 1831, became a charter member of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and served as both president and vice president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. From the 1830s onward, he actively assisted fugitives to escape slavery. Quarles, Black Abolitionists, 24–25, 55–66; Still, Underground Railroad, 711; Joseph A. Borome, “Robert Purvis and His Early Challenge to American Racism,” NHB, 30:8–10 (May 1967); Pauline C. Johnson, “Robert Purvis,” ibid., 5:65–66 (December 1941); NCAB, 1:413.—Making just $10 on my speculation. Here you have in simple terms, the history of my connection with horses during that tour. I had no idia when I bought the horse of making the society a party to the losses or gains of my speculation—it was purely an individual concern—and so I believe it was viewed by us all at the time. In deed so far was I from supposing otherwise I hesitated about charging the society with pay for my horse food—Feeling I had no right to charge


a society with the keeping of a horse which they did not othorize me to buy.

I am Dear Friend in great haste very truly, Yours,


ALS: Wendell Phillips Papers, MH-H. PLSr: Bartlett, Wendell and Ann Phillips, 118–21.


Glasgow, [Scot] 28 April 1846.

Edmond Quincy.

Allow me to thank you for a copy of the last annual report which you kindly sent me. I have read it with much deeper interest than I could have done had I been present at the last annual meeting where it was read and its contents discoursed upon. Let me thank you too for the faithfulness with which you have sketched the history of a nother years progress in our noble cause. I never saw the utter folly and distructive enfluence of no organizeation, more plainly than when I contrasted it with the labour—of the Mass. Board, and the vigelence of you its historian. Nothing seems to have escaped you. I shall feel myself quite ev[e]n with the times w[he]n I get it full well established in my mind.

I think next year—you will have to devote a larger space in your report to Scotland. It has been & is to be the battle field of old orgenised Anti slavery action. It is now all in a blaze of antislavery excitement. You are al-


April 28, 1846


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