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Frederick Douglass Edmund Quincy, April 28, 1846


FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO EDMUND QUINCY1In 1844 Edmund Quincy became corresponding secretary of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, taking over the responsibility of preparing the organization’s annual report. A work of meticulous and extensive research, the report included not only the minutes of the annual meeting, but also summaries of antislavery activity in each state and in other nations, as well as an articulation of the society’s positions on such issues as the US. Constitution and political action. Each report was book length, and collectively, they amount to a detailed history of a large portion of the antislavery movement. Quincy worked on the annual reports until his retirement from antislavery activities in 1865. Robert Vincent Sparks, “Abolition in Silver Slippers: A Biography of Edmund Quincy” (Ph.D. diss., Boston College, 1978), 180; Robert W. Tolf, “Edmund Quincy: Aristocrat Abolitionist” (Ph.D. diss., University of Rochester, 1957), 110–12.

Glasgow, [Scot.] 28 April 1846.

Edmond Quincy.


Allow me to thank you for a copy of the last annual report which you kindly sent me. I have read it with much deeper interest than I could have done had I been present at the last annual meeting where it was read and its contents discoursed upon. Let me thank you too for the faithfulness with which you have sketched the history of a nother years progress in our noble cause. I never saw the utter folly and distructive enfluence of no organizeation, more plainly than when I contrasted it with the labor—of the Mass. Board, and the vigelence of you its historian. Nothing seems to have escaped you. I shall feel myself quite ev[e]n with the times w[he]n I get it full well established in my mind.

I think next year—you will have to devote a larger space in your report to Scotland. It has been & is to be the battle field of old orgenised Anti slavery action. It is now all in a blaze of antislavery excitement. You are al-


ready aware that Mr. Thompson2George Thompson. of London has joined us—and attuned his voice to the startling note “send back the money[”]. I heard him last night in Paisley.3Douglass may be confusing the meeting in Paisley with one held the same week in Glasgow. Both James N. Buffum and Henry C. Wright reported that George Thompson delivered a rousing speech in Glasgow, but Buffum wrote that Thompson joined the party after they had lectured in Paisley. Lib., 1, 29 May 1846. Those who have heard him in his palmist days—say he was never more powerful than now. I think he is the only speaker of whom I had formed a very high opinion—that on first hearing I did not feel a degree of disappointment. His heart is in the work.

He seems as free from the miserable dish water expediencey of new organiseation as if he had been in the heat of the battle in Massachusetts the last five years. We leave here tomorrow for Edinburgh4Douglass next spoke in Edinburgh. Lib., 1 May 1846. the very headquarters of the free church. We—that is Friend Wright, Thompson & Buffum5Henry C. Wright, George Thompson, and James N. Buffum. shall hold several meetings with sole reference to sending back the money[.] We have some hopes of provoking a discussion between some of the prominent leaders of the free church and Mr. Thompson on the question of holding fellowship with Slaveholders. It would be a grand achievement—since it would bring the matter fairly before the whole people of Scotland. And they only want to have it brought before them in order to a right decesion.

Our friends here are already cherishing the hope that Mr. Garrison will visited this country in July next. I can say so far as my observation goes, the field is ripe and ready for the Harvest.6In John 4:35 Jesus tells his disciples that the fields are white, or ripe, for the harvest. He owes it to the cause to come—and brush a way the missaprehensions that prevail with regard to him—and the cause of which he is the distinguished leader. He would have a hearing before the british public such as he could not have when here six years a go.7In June 1840, William Lloyd Garrison traveled to Britain for the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, called by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. When the women attending the convention were barred from speaking and were sent to a separate seating area, Garrison joined them in sympathy. This show of support for gender equality added to the ideological controversy dividing the abolitionist movement. Following the convention, Garrison toured England, Scotland, and Ireland to acclaim and returned to Boston on 17 August 1840. Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 2:553—54.

I am very Dear Friend Ever truly yours


ALS: American Historical Manuscripts, CSmH.



Douglass, Frederick




Yale University Press 2009



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