Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, March 18, 1854
Rochester, [N.Y.] 18 March .
HON: GERRIT SMITH
MY DEAR FRIEND.
I am at home, and have your welcome notes.1Douglass refers to a letter dated 6 March 1854 from Gerrit Smith. The letter, published in the 17 March 1854 edition of , is Smith’s account of the House vote on the homestead bill. Specifically, Smith, who had previously supported land reform, chose to vote against the bill because it limited suffrage to white people. , 17 March 1854; Harlow, , 255–58. You have only to vote and Speak the convictions of your head and heart to have my earnest, though feeble Support. I knew you would vote against the , as Soon as I learned that the mean and wicked—amendment of Mr Wright2An experienced lawyer in Wilkes-Barre, Hendrick Bradley Wright (1808–81) served as a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania (1853–54, 1861–62, 1877–78, and 1879–80). In his first term in Congress, Wright argued for amending the 1854 homestead bill to clarify that land entitlements be given only to whites. Laura Jensen, (New York, 2003), 198; (online). had prevailed. Thomas Davis,3Thomas Davis (1806–95), a wealthy jeweler, immigrated to Providence from Ireland in 1817. He first married Eliza Chase, a friend of Helen Garrison and sister of the Providence wool merchant William M. Chase. After Eliza’s death, he married Paulina Kellogg Wright, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist, in 1849. Davis served in both houses of the Rhode Island legislature
and one term in the U.S. Congress (1853-55). Davis made an address in the House denouncing the Kansas-Nebraska Act on 9 May 1854, which was republished as a pamphlet and widely circulated. Benjamin F. Moore, (Providence, R.I., 1843), 46; Merrill and Ruchames, , 1:151n, 330n, 2:308n; (online). is known to me—and I was prepared to hear that he voted right. His opinions have changed much Since our first acquaintance. Now more than twelve years: but his heart is, No doubt as noble as ever.
There was a good chance on Wright’s “” amendment, to have recounted Some of the patriotic Services of the Colored people—and to have made and argument in favour of their citizenShip—But one Man cannot Say everything—and perhaps, the time, was not allowed. I brought to gether Some facts on this point for the Colored Convention4A reference to the National Convention for People of Color, held in Rochester, N.Y., on 6, 7, 8 July 1853. held here last Summer—which may prove convenient to you—I therefore take the Liberty to Send them. My friend Julia,5Julia Griffiths. comes homes highly gratified, perhaps I ought to Say, extatic with her visit6Julia Griffiths arrived in Washington, D.C., on 15 February 1854. While there she frequently attended sessions of Congress to hear senators and representatives speak, including Lewis Cass, Stephen A. Douglas, Charles Sumner, and William Henry Seward. She also met with Sarah Grimké, Senator Salmon P. Chase, and Gerrit Smith. , 24 February, 3, 17 March 1854. to Washington—
Believe me always, truly and gratefully Your friend,
ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.