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Frederick Douglass Richard D. Webb, December 24, 1845



Belfast, [Ire.] 24 December 1845.


The Books came agreeable to your direction—the getting letters from such persons as you name is a wise suggestion and I have already adopted measures to obtain them. Dr. Drew1Best remembered as a zealous supporter of Orangeism, Thomas Drew (1800–1870) was a Church of Ireland clergyman. In 1857 his polemical rhetoric helped spark a ten-day sectarian riot between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. As longtime rector of Christ Church, Belfast, Drew promoted programs of self-improvement and education among his working-class congregation, and these efforts probably influenced his opinion of Douglass's Narrative. The 1846 Dublin edition included a letter from Drew attesting to the authenticity of Douglass's authorship and describing the book as "a metaphysical illustration of a mind bursting all bonds, and winning light and liberty for his own good and for good of millions!" Douglass Papers, ser. 2, 1:164–65; Kevin Haddick-Flynn, Orangeism: The Making of a Tradition (Dublin, Ire., 1999), 314–15; S. J. Connolly, ed., The Oxford Companion to Irish History (New York, 1998), 156; DNB, 11:524. of this place—an episcopalian minister has read the narrative and speaks of it in the highest terms of approval—a letter may be obtained from him I know. There is also a presbyterian minister here the REV. Mr. Nelson2Presbyterian minister Isaac Nelson (1812–88) was a member of the anti-Garrisonian British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Nelson helped host Douglass's lectures for the Belfast Anti-Slavery Society on 23 December 1845 and 2 January 1846. He also proffered a letter of support reproduced in the 1846 Dublin edition of the Narrative. Nelson wrote effusively of the "literary wonder" and its author, "an intellectual phenomenon." Belfast News Letter, 6 January 1846; Douglass Papers, ser. 2, 1:165; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:389–90n. who I know would be happy to aid me with a letter. There will no difficulty—in getting letters if they are needed. I suppose they might be used in a part of the remaining 1,000 if sent forthwith, could they?

Another fine meeting here last night croweded to overflowing—in the independant chapel.3Douglass spoke on 23 December 1845 at the Independent Meetinghouse on Donegal Street under the sponsorship of the Belfast Anti-Slavery Society. Belfast Northern Whig, 25 December 1845; Belfast News Letter, 26 December 1845. I hold another on friday next. The Books go off grandly[.] A very kind quaker lady a Mrs. Wakefield4Hannah Wakefield lived at Great Victoria Place in Belfast. Matthew Martin, Martin's Belfast Directory for 1840–41 (Belfast, Ire., 1840), 53; Slater, Directory of Ireland (1846), 376. I believe her name is has taken the sale of them in hand[.] They must go in such hands. Let us have the picture as soon as you can[.] I wrote yesterday to your Friend at Bristol. He is evedently of the right stamp.5Taken from current coin, which has the valid stamp and superscription of official currency, the metaphor "of the right stamp" means that something or someone has the stamp of true worth. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, ed. Ivor H. Evans (New York, 1981), 1065. I got a letter last night from Freind Buffum6Buffum described his antislavery activities in London in a letter to Garrison on 2 December 1845. Lib., 26 December 1845. he is now in London and proposes to join me—if I wish him to do so. I shall write him to day—and request him to meet me in Glasgow—as early as the fifth of january—if it will suit his convenience to come.7Douglass joined James N. Buffum on the stage at a public meeting of the Glasgow Emancipation Society on 15 January 1846. Glasgow Argus, 22 January 1846. I must see more of Joseph Sturge8When Douglass visited Birmingham in early December 1845, he dined at the home of Quaker reformer Joseph Sturge (1793–1859). Sturge abandoned a successful career as a grain merchant to champion such causes as temperance, adult education, and abolitionism. He also was active in the Anti–Corn Law League and Chartist organizations. Sturge visited the West Indies in the mid-1830s to campaign for greater economic assistance to the emancipated slaves there. Lib., 26 June 1846; Temperley, British Antislavery, 12–13, 24–25, 36, 69, 72, 123, 140; DNB, 19:130–31. before I can write more of him.

I worte yesterday to Shortt9William Shortt. counselling him to stand fast. My love to all the family.

Truly yours


ALS: Anti-Slavery Collection, MB.



Douglass, Frederick (1818–1895)




Yale University Press 2009



Publication Status