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Isaac C. Kenyon to Frederick Douglass, December 17, 1847


ISAAC C. KENYON1Isaac Collins Kenyon (1816–57) was a merchant and Rhode Island Garrisonian abolitionist who contributed occasional letters to the Liberator. Lib., 22 December 1848, 30 April 1852. TO FREDERICK DOUGLASS

Seekonk, Mass. 17 [December] 1847.


Having read the “Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass,” I had imagined that a paper edited by the author of that work would be both interesting and valuable; and I am happy to state, that, in the number before me, I find my most sanguine expectations fully realized. If it had fallen to my lot to have suggested a name for the paper, it would have been most agreeable with my first impulse to have called it, “The Polar Star;” but, upon reflection, I am satisfied that “The North Star” is better, as that is the appellation more commonly given to the beautiful planet from which the paper so appropriately takes it[s] name. I hope, therefore, that it will ever remain as it is, without the slightest alteration. That Star in the heavens, fixed, as it is, to one point, has been a safe guide to many a weary wanderer, on his lonely way from that happy land which is blessed with the religious “spirit of slaveholding, robbery, and wrong,” to the more frigid, more monarchical, and, withal, more humane dominions of Queen Victoria.2Queen Victoria (1819–1901) was the granddaughter of Hanoverian monarch King George III and niece of King George IV. On 28 June 1838 she assumed the English throne at the age of nineteen and reigned until her death. She was the object of deep respect among the English people, and her reign is associated with the Victorian age that bears her name. Elizabeth Longford, Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed (New York, 1964), 79, 565, 575–77; Cannon, Oxford Companion to British History, 954–56; Mitchell, Victorian Britain, 835–37. It not only remains stationary in its position, but it is firm and determined in its purpose. It has never been known to betray its trust. The flying, panting fugitive finds in it a friend, which neither the fear of a tyrant’s frown nor the love of a tyrant’s smile can possibly transform into a traitor. I anxiously hope, and do firmly believe, that this paper will remain as fearlessly fixed


to one point, and as really determined in its purpose, as the lovely little planet from which it has its name. Its only point to shine from will be the naked truth—its purpose, “to attack slavery in all its” horrible “forms and aspects” until complete “emancipation” shall be proclaimed to every slave,3Douglass’s statement of the mission of the North Star reads, “The object of the North Star will be to attack Slavery in all its forms and aspects; advocate Universal Emancipation; exalt the standard of Public Morality; promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the Colored People; and hasten the day of FREEDOM to the Three Millions of our Enslaved Fellow Countrymen.” NS, 3 December 1847. of whatever color or sex, throughout the length and breadth of this “happy land,” which is so strikingly remarkable for its “civil and religious liberty.” The govemment of the United States appears to be fully determined that the whole of her people shall enjoy the rich blessings of her institutions, especially the three millions of colored people at the South; nor is this all: she is so anxious that neighboring nations should share her advantages with her, that she is at this moment spending an enormous amount of treasure and blood for the purpose of establishing in Mexico that singular kind of freedom which is the lot of her colored people at home.4The Mexican-American War (1846–48). I have only to say, in conclusion, that if the blessings of liberty and independence cannot be enjoyed in the United States, after her present civil and religious institutions cease to exist, I, for one, do not wish to enjoy such blessings. I have not the use of language to express my utter abhorrence of the hypocritical pretences to Christianity and patriotism under which this country groans. Many of those who are actively engaged in the support of the present institutions of America are very loud in such pretences.

With the hope that thou mayest be favored with entire success in thy truly laudable undertaking, I am thy friend and well-wisher,


PLSr: NS, 7 Jannary 1848.


December 17, 1847


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