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Frederick Douglass to Abigail and Lydia Mott, February 21, 1848



[Rochester, N.Y.] 21 Feb[ruary] 1848.


The mail of this moment is a most welcome one. Friendship like every other good thing—needs constant cultivation. Kind words which are so cheap and yet so useful—and blissful. Why should we ever be sparing of them?—I have been—oh! What a weak confession a most unhappy man—and simply because I have not been able to make all my arrangements for the last completely square with my wishes. What weak—foolish and discontented creatures we are. I half think had you been near in my gloomy moments, and could have poured into my ear, those words and sentiments of love and sympathy with which your full hearts abound, my troubled spirit would have soon freed itself from its burden—leaped up like a tired camel from its load. I have been house hunting ever since we arrived—and have not yet secured a suitable location. Anne1Anna Murray Douglass. has not been well—or very good humoured since we came here. She however looks better—as I feel better to day. We are a weak set of mortals. I have many things I should like to say but hurry prevents.

Nells2William C. Nell. love with mine in great haste Yours sincerely and everlastingly


[P.S.] Many thanks for the subscribers, by Charles.3Possibly Charles Highgate or Charles H. Seth. Highgate lived in Albany and subscribed to the North Star. Seth was a North Star agent in Springfield, Massachusetts. 1848 Mail Book of the North Star, 19, FD Papers Project, InIU; NS, 27 February 1848. The Bell4The Liberty Bell. is in waitmg.

[P.] PS.5Douglass did not label his postscript as such, so that has been supplied. His post-postscript is labeled as a postscript, so the second “P.” has been supplied to distinguish between the two additions to the letter. I have more time than I thought for and may add another word. I have kind letters from England by this last steamer. I have difficulity in making them understand all the “in’s” and outs6Peculiar or technical characteristics. of our Antislavery movements. I am constantly explaning—and the more I explain the more I seem to have to explain.

I am especially thankful to Dear Lydia for her kind word. She speaks but seldom—but always to the point[.] Speak again—and speak often. Do my Dear sister, that the heart of your true friend may be made glad. I am not tired of hearing from my Dear Rosetta.7Rosetta, Douglass’s eldest daughter, boarded with the Mott sisters while she attended school in Albany from 1846 to 1848. I should like once more to see her hand writing. Make my best love to her—and tell her, how glad I am to learn that she is well—and that she is behaving like a nice Dear Daughter of Frederick Douglass.

I have been on a little lecturing tour to Geneva,8Douglass lectured in Geneva, New York, on 17 and 18 February 1848. NS, 11 February 1848. and had to ride all night in order to meet my engagements here. This riding all night is killing


me—and I am resolved to stop it. I had a letter from Dear Mrs. Jones9 Phebe Hoag Jones (1812-81) helped found the Troy Unitarian Society. She married Eleazer Jones in 1832 and lived in Florida for a time in the 1830s, where she gave birth to their daughter, Margaret. Sometime after 1840 her husband died, and she moved to Troy to run a linen business. She befriended the Mott sisters through reform movements there and in Albany. The letter from Jones to Douglass has not been located. 1850 U.S. Census, New York, Rensselaer County, Troy, 4th Ward, 181; Stanton and Anthony, Papers, 1:467. on Sunday complaining bitterly of the publication of the alleged facts about Peirpont’s Sabbath School10In a letter to the North Star, Henry K. Yerrington points out that the Reverend John Pierpont headed a Unitarian Church in Troy, New York, which had a Sunday school superintendent who openly defended slavery and was suspected of foisting his beliefs upon the children. Douglass apparently received, but did not reprint in the North Star, a letter from Phebe Hoag Jones, an abolitionist and Unitarian, refuting Yerrington’s charges. NS, 11 February 1848. —and denying the truth of much of the story. I am sorry they were published—and they should not have been had I been at home

Yours again—as before:


ALS: Ida Husted Harper Papers, CSmH.


February 21, 1848


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