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Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, March 27, 1855



Rochester[, N.Y.] 27 March 1855.



I am glad my Speech1The speech that Douglass refers to was delivered to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society on 19 March 1855 at Corinthian Hall. Douglass had delivered versions of this lecture, entitled “The Anti-Slavery Movement,” many times that winter to audiences in New England, Pennsylvania, and New York. He printed a text of the speech in his weekly on 23 March 1855, and later had it republished as a pamphlet. While Douglass failed to credit the contribution of Elizabeth Heyrick to abolitionism in his newspaper account of the speech, he did add a reference to her in the pamphlet’s text. , 23 March 1855; Frederick Douglass, (Rochester, 1855), 13. pleased you. I had a pretty high opinion of it before—and your kind approval has not detracted from that opinion—I did, in my Spoken Speech, accord all due honor to the Clear lighted, and right hearted Elizabeth Herrick.2The English Quaker Elizabeth Heyrick (c. 1769–1831) wrote the pamphlet (London, 1824). C. Duncan Rice, (New York, 1975), 254. The omission is only in my printed Speech—The correction Shall be made in the pamphlet edition—which I am about to publish.

Oh! yes—do let us have a National Liberty Party Convention3In a public letter dated 4 April 1855, published later in this volume, Douglass joined Gerrit Smith and six other abolitionist veterans in a call for a Radical Political Abolitionist Convention to be held in Syracuse, New York, on 26–28 June 1855. , 13 April 1855.—Let us have a Strong Call—We must leave the free Soilers4Members of the political organization, founded in Buffalo, New York, in August 1848 worked to resist the further extension of slavery into western territories of the United States. The group ran candidates for national office under the label Free Soil party in 1848 and Free Democratic party in 1852, as well as candidates for state and local office in the same era. Blue, , 70–80, 169. and garrisonians5In May 1840, the American abolitionist movement divided into hostile, competing factions. The Boston editor William Lloyd Garrison led the most perfectionist-inclined group, most of whose members abandoned the nation’s religious and political institutions for being hopelessly corrupted by tolerance toward slavery. Garrison’s followers, who retained control of the American Anti-Slavery Society, were popularly referred to as “Garrisonians.” McKivigan, , 56–92.—to uphold their own Standards—and Stand on our own ground—. You have but to Speak the word—to have a grand convention here—and here is the place to have it. Do you, my dear Sir, write the Call—No other man muSt write the Call for the Liberty Party—while Gerrit Smith lives and is able to wield a pen.

Most truly yourS, Always,


ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.



Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895




Yale University Press 2018



Publication Status