Skip to main content

Brick to Frederick Douglass, March 16, 1854


For Frederick Douglass' Paper.

CHICAGO, March 16, 1854.

The people of our State—and I fear of the
West generally—are becoming greatly dis-
satisfied with the tardy operations of the
State and National Councils; and I am not
surprized that they are.

When the National Council convened in
the city of New York on the 22d of Novem-
ber last, the attention of the whole nation
was directed to that assemblage, regarding
it as second to none in importance to the
colored citizens of the United States, not ex-
cepting even the National Convention which
sat in Rochester in July of the same year.

Our delegates from Illinois, on their re-
turn home, expressed themselves highly
pleased with the flattering prospect of do-
ing something, in an organized national ca-
, which would be beneficial, and, like-
wise, creditable to the colored people of the
nation. And to the numerous inquiries
made by the PEOPLE, who sent them on
this mission, they replied that many excel-
lent resolves had been enacted in council,
which they believed to be practical; but for
particulars they referred us to the proceed-
ings, which would appear in the columns of
the Aliened American and Frederick Doug-
lass' Paper
. We have waited now some four
months for these proceedings, but they have
not yet come to light. I understand that
Mr. Wm. C. Nell, who acted as Recording
Secretary of the National Council at their
meeting in New York, was appointed by
that body to prepare their proceedings for

I learn from a note, received by a friend
of mine a short time since, from Mr. Nell,
that the proceedings were duly prepared
by that gentleman, on his return to Boston,
sent on to Dr. Pennington of Brooklyn, N.
Y., with a request that he forward them on
to Mr. Day for publication in the Aliened
. This seems to be the last
of them; perhaps the Dr. has consigned them
to oblivion, instead of the press.

I have, from the outset, regarded this
movement with much favor, and have been


fully committed in all honorable efforts to
attain in the highest degree its aims and ob-
jects up to the present time. I shall hope
and believe in its success; but the indiffer-
ence with which this measure is treated by
the avowed friends is not at all calculated
to inspire such hope and confidence in its
ultimate success and usefulness. Indeed,
this apathy of our friends, in the ranks of
the National Council, have already caused
much incredulity amongst the people.

I have a word to say also in relation to the
Illinois State Council; and sorry am I that
it is not to their honor. They met in this
city on the 2nd of January, and proceeded
to business. The members of the National
Council being present, a motion was made
to constitute them honorary members of that
body; but this met with most bitter opposi-
tion from many of the most prominent mem-
bers, who gave as a reason that such pro-
cedure would be illegal, and without pre-
cedent—and therefore could not be enter-
tained by that august body. The sequel
shows, by the meagre and tame character
of the business done by them, that all were
not Solomons who sat in that Council.

On looking over the proceedings of other
State Councils, I find they have invariably
given their National Councilmen, when pres-
ent, a voice in their deliberations; but it
seems that our Egyptian hairsplitters, in
grave conclave assembled, being entirely
satisfied with their superior legislative wis-
dom and experience, have refused to extend
such [illegible] theirs; though I learn that
a resolu[tion] [was] passed towards the close of
the ses[sion] [gra]nting them the privilege of
making [SUGGE]STIONS, but denying them
the privi[lege] of speaking to those SUG-
GESTIONS[;] I mention this to show you
that narrow and selfish policy which prevail-
ed in OUR STATE COUNCIL—the collected wis-
dom of the State. I send herewith the pam-
phlet containing their proceedings, and in
which you will discover that nearly one en-
tire day was consumed in an attempt to
DISFRANCHISE WOMEN! What think you, sir,
of that? Can anything be done for the good
of our people by such illiberal State policy
as this? and unless a more wise and con-
sistent course is pursued, will not that people
become disgusted with this whole State or-
ganization, and refuse to give it their support
or countenance? These strictures are not


intended to apply to all the members of the
State Council, by no means. There are
honora[ble] [exce]ptions in that body—men
who h[ave] [at] [hea]rt the general welfare of the
people [illegible] [wh]o despise the selfish and con-
tracted views of the majority, who have
shown themselves such sticklers for nonsen-
sical and exploded customs—such old fogy-
ism. I think the State Council would have
done themselves far more credit, and the
State more service, by recommending some
practical and systematic plan of moral and
political organization and union—one dic-
tated by common sense—instead of spend-
ing the greater portion of their time in use-
less discussion upon the propriety of allow-
ing women to vote. If we take from these
printed proceedings the constitution and the
women's rights discussion, what remains of

I do not make these complaints of the
treatment of the National Councilmen simp-
ly because they were thus treated, but solely
because they were identified with, and con-
versant also with, the entire movement; and
if they could have been of service to the
people, by acting in the State Council, they
should by all means have been chosen hon-
orary members of that body, and treated
with the same courtesy that Ohio, Massachu-
setts, Rhode Island, Michigan, and other
States, have their National members.

Look out for another





March 16, 1854


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


Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.) 1851-18??



Publication Status