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Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, May 1, 1856


Rochester[, N.Y.] 1 May 1856.



Mrs Douglass1Anna Murray Douglass. wishes me to tender her thanks for the Garden Seed kindly Sent from Peterboro. These are little things—but little things rather than large things, reveal the real qualities of the heart. I had to laugh right out when I Saw that neat little bag so carefully enclosing a few seeds—intended to speak to Senses is already refined. We both, thank Mrs Smith and yourSelf, for remembering us in these nice little tokens. Did you notice Mr Garrisons reply to Mr Granger’s2Born in Suffield Connecticut, Amos P. Granger (1789-1866) was a merchant who settled in Manlius, New York, in 1811. He was a New York state militia officer in the War of 1812, and ultimately rose to the rank of general in the militia. By 1825, Granger had moved to Syracuse, New York, and served as a city trustee for four years. A prominent Whig, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress several times, but abandoned that party after the 1852 presidential election. In 1853, Granger attended the Whig party’s Auburn Convention and wrote a series of adopted resolutions that later guided the development of the New York Republican party. As a Republican, Granger was elected to the House of Representatives for the Thirty-Fifth Congress, but retired from politics after one term. , 2 May 1856; Syracuse , 21 August 1866; (online). speech?3In only the second speech made in Congress that declared slavery unconstitutional, New York congressman Amos P. Granger used the writ of habeas corpus to attack slavery. Since the Constitution guaranteed the writ of habeas corpus in peacetime, Granger argued that slavery violated this constitutional right by holding slaves, not convicted of any crime, in perpetual bondage. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 further violated habeas corpus by allowing Southern slave catchers to seize “black and white citizens” in the North and hold them without trial. William Lloyd Garrison attacked Granger’s arguments in the , asserting that the Constitution fully supported slavery. In a continuation of his earlier sentiments in favor of Northern secession, or “disunionism,” Garrison argued that if slavery was unconstitutional, why did Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and many founding fathers “maintain slaves"? ., 11 April 1856. It is full of sophistry. I have reviewed it in part in the paper just going to press.4In a response to Garrison’s critique of Granger’s speech, Douglass staunchly defended the content of that speech and Granger’s “bravery” for bringing the slavery issue to the House floor. Douglass asserted, “Mr. Garrison’s opinion of the Constitution is the same as Robert Toombs’.” Douglass argued that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution could be “fully applied to the negro,” and though the founders kept slaves, many were against slavery and the slave trade. Douglass further argued that Garrison’s call for Northern secession was against the principles of the Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which Garrison wrote in 1833. In conclusion, Douglass speculated on whether the South would use many of Garrison’s arguments against abolitionists. , 2 May 1856. In doing so I have been more concerned for the argument than for the style[.]

I have made free use of your ideas in my review.

Your’s Most Truly


ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.



Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895


May 1, 1856


Yale University Press 2018


Gerritt Smith Manuscripts, Syracuse University



Publication Status