Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, September 21, 1864
FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO GERRIT SMITH
Rochester[, N.Y.] 21 September 1864.
HON. GERRIT SMITH.
MY DEAR SIR:
Just a word, thanking you for your circular on McClellan and his letter of acceptance.1Because Gerrit Smith’s nephew John Cochrane had played a leading role in the abortive effort to have John C. Frémont supplant Lincoln as the Republican party nominee, the wealthy abolitionist published a twelve-page circular designed to clarify his own view of the upcoming election. The circular, titled “On McClellan’s Nomination and Acceptance,” was distributed in September 1864 to clarify Smith’s position on the opposing candidates in the presidential election. Smith minced no words regarding General George B. McClellan and his party, declaring that the Democratic party was, in short, neither more nor less than the Northern wing of the rebellion. Smith prophesied that after Lincoln’s reelection, the Democratic party, that “ugliest of all the enemies of human rights and human happiness," would be dead. Gerrit Smith, , 3 vols. (New York, 1865), 2:25-36; Harlow, , 440-41. I am in the habit of thinking your last production your worthiest. This one conferms me in this amiable habit. No one can be in doubt as to the path of duty in this campaign, who reads your circular. The whole case is plainly, strikingly and admirably Stated—If I have any fault to find with any part of the circular [it is that] in which you seem to admit that Some Abolitionists have Shown a disposition to the war to Abolitionism.2In his circular, Smith made the passing comment “I admitted that there were instances of a disposition to pervert the war.” Rather than accuse the abolitionists of this failing, Smith turned this charge into an accusation that McClellan as a general had attempted to pervert the war’s mission by being extremely solicitous toward slaveholders within his army’s lines. Smith, , 2:30. You and I know that the natural use of this war is to abolish slavery and that that only is a perversion [of it] which would it from this its natural work. But merely wished to thank you for your excellent circular which I do most heartily.
Very Truly yours
ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.