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Frederick Douglass Elizabeth Cady Stanton, August 15, 1860

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FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO ELIZABETH CADY STANTON

Rochester[, N.Y.] 25 Aug[ust] 1860[.]

DEAR MRS STANTON:

I am much obliged by your letter.1This letter has not been located. I have been in a half and half condition about attending that Worcester convention2Following Gerrit Smith’s nomination by the small Radical Abolitionist party at a convention in Syracuse on 29 August 1860, a number of New England Garrisonian abolitionists led by Stephen Foster debated whether to unite with this effort or form a separate new abolitionist political party. Foster and the Liberty party veteran John Pierpont organized a convention that was held in Worcester, Massachusetts, on 19 September 1860. Douglass attended the convention, which organized the “Union Democratic Party.” Although the gathering endorsed no candidate, Douglass persuaded it to adopt a resolution wishing “earnest sympathy and hearty Godspeed” to Smith’s candidacy. ., 31 August, 28 September, 5 October 1860; , 2:344-45, 351 (November 1860); Stanton and Anthony, , 1:438-41; McPherson, , 13. ever since I got the call signed by Messrs Foster3Born in Canterbury, New Hampshire, the radical abolitionist Stephen Symonds Foster (1809-81) studied at Dartmouth College. In 1837, a year before his graduation, he helped organize the New Hampshire Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Society. Foster briefly attended Union Theological Seminary in New York, but by 1839 he had repudiated the ministry. He developed his criticisms of American churches most fully in The Brotherhood of Thieves; or, A True Picture of the American Church Clergy (1843). His practice of interrupting a church service to speak out against complicity with slavery frequently provoked violent reaction. While Foster and his wife Abby Kelley, whom he married in 1845, were agents for the American Anti-Slavery Society for nearly twenty years, their relationship with the Garrisonians was at best one of strained cooperation. Although Foster believed that the Constitution was a proslavery document, he periodically dabbled in politics. In 1843-44, he endorsed the Liberty party. He argued in favor of slave rebellion in his Revolution the Only Remedy for Slavery (1855). In the late 1850s, having altered his view of the nature of the Constitution, Foster sought to establish a disunion party “whose avowed aim... [would] be the overthrow of the government... & whose will... [would] be expressed through the ballot box.” A proponent of distributing land to the freedmen, Foster was disappointed with federal Reconstruction policies. He devoted the last years of his life to agitating on behalf of temperance and women’s rights. Parker Pillsbury, A (Concord, N.H., 1883), 123-55; idem, “Stephen Symonds Foster,” , 5:369-75 (August 1882); Lillie B. Chace Wyman, “Reminiscences of Two Abolitionists,” , 27:536-50 (January 1903); Pease and Pease, , 191-217; Filler, “Parker Pillsbury,” 19:315-37; , 2:514-15; , 2:328-29; , 6:558-59. and Peerpont.4John Pierpont. Of course, your letter has taken something from one half and added it to the other. I am now strongly inclined to go. The only cause of hesitation is, that the difference between myself and Mr Garrison might render me an unacceptable member to some who may come from that side of the house, Mr Foster himself, included. I have always believed in Stephen Foster—and never lifted my heel against him or against Mr Garrison until compelled to do so in self defense. I may call to see you on my way to Syracuse next week—and talk matters over with you. Thank you for your kind invitation

In haste. Yours Very Truly

FREDK DOUGLASS—

ALS: Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers, DLC.

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Creator

Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895

Date

August 25, 1860

Publisher

Yale University Press 2018

Collection

Library of Congress: Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers

Type

Letters

Publication Status

Published