Skip to main content

Charles W. Stuart to Frederick Douglass, 20 March 1855


For Frederick Douglass' Paper:
LORA, Thornbury P. O., Collingwood,} Grey County, Canada West.}
FREDERICK DOUGLASS , ESQ. : Though I have no intention of pursuing a protracted controversy on what is called "Woman's Rights," and ever lament the deep wound which the intrusion of that question has inflicted upon harmony amongst the friends of the slave, I yet feel sometimes constrained to express my opinions publicly, in defence of what I believe to be truth and duty; and I endeavor to do so with a frankness which spurns compromise, and with a kindness which admits of no ill will.
I find by your paper of March 2d, that I have seriously provoked B. D. Hawks, by some of my opinions, as fairly published by you. I am not surprised at it, for our opinions on this subject are totally obnoxious to each other; and however hurtful or erroneous I deem hers, I see no reason to doubt the rectitude and benevolence of her intentions.
Now a few words on her letter to you -She asks, "What proof has Captain Stuart, that the inner law of our lives is not the same now as at the first hour of its creation?" The Bible, I reply, is my proof. Look to the character and condition of man, as therein recorded before he sinned, and look to it subsequently, as therein recorded cowardice, hypocrisy and mutual recriminations, immediately taking place of holy truth, and reverent and mutual law; and since, as we read, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Jer. xvii. 9. Then, contemplate the history of man, and what does it present to us but one vast scene of impurity, tears and blood, here and there a few occasional beams of original rectitude, gloriously, though feebly, breaking thro' the darkenss. And, if further proof be wanting, the words of Him who spake as never man spake -Himself, perfect and everlasting -truth and love ring in my ears. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." -John iii. 3.
I completely agree with this lady, in the fundamental truth, that man is sinful, because he has violated the laws of his being -not because those laws are become less just and holy. In fact, nothing deserves the name of law, in the highest and holiest sense, (the only unalterably true sense,) except what is really just and holy.
The lady asks, is it not a law of our being to love liberty and to hate slavery? I reply, it was before Eve sinned. But, as the divinely inspired Paul says," I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." -Paul vii. 23. And again, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Rom. viii. 7
And what does the history of man evince? What but that is licentiousness; (that is, its own ungoverned volitions;) not liberty, which man loves, and whatever earnestly conflicts with his own cherished preferences, that he hates; as far as the renewed heart, this grace is capable of hating any being.


Stuart, Charles W.


March 20, 1855


Charles W. Stuart to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 13 April 1855. Defends his position on women's rights; argues B. D. Hawks’ points thereon.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper

Publication Status