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Frederick Douglass to Isabel Jennings, September 22, 1846



Glasgow, [Scot.] 22 Sept[ember] 1846.

Isabel Jennings.

Care of Mrs. Boath.


Berkenhead.1Birkenhead is a town and port in west central England at the mouth of the Mersey River, adjacent to Liverpool. Cohen, Columbia Gazetteer, 1:358.


May I hope to be forgiven for this long silence. I know if you were acquainted with my movements for a few weeks past I should readily receive your forgiveness. I have been very closely engaged so much so that I have hardly had time to attend to my buisness corrispondence. I have time now to do little more than to inform you where I am—and where I am likely to be the coming fortnight. I came to this city yesterday expecting to assist Friend Garrison in holding a meeting here last night—but owing to the shortness of the notice given to the freinds here of his coming there was no meeting appointed and hence my labour in coming is for the present lost.2Douglass and a rheumatic Garrison arrived in Glasgow during a storm on 19 September only to find the city hall, the location arranged for their lectures, occupied until 30 September. Lib., 30 October 1846; NASS, 1 October 1846; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:423–25. We have a meeting in Greenock to night and another in Paisley to morrow night—and thursday night and friday night we hold meetings in Edinburgh—and on tuesday night and wednesday night probably at Dundee.3On 22 September Douglass, Garrison, and John Murray spoke in Paisley. On 23 September they spoke in Greenock, moving on to Edinburgh, where they spoke on 24 and 25 September. By 28 September they arrived for a meeting in Dundee, followed by a meeting in Glasgow on 30 September. On 3 and 6 October, they lectured in Belfast, Ireland. Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:423–35. Mr. Garrison will then proceed to Belfast4Garrison arrived in Belfast on 3 October 1846, lectured there, and departed for Dublin, where he met Henry C. Wright and Richard D. Webb. He reunited with Douglass in Wrexham, Wales, on 9 October 1846. NASS, 29 October 1846; Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 2:175–76; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:435–37.—stopping however in this city long enough to hold two meetings. I shall not accompany him to Belfast or in any part of Ireland. He will have the field to himself. I could wish to be with him at Cork5Garrison hoped to visit Cork, Ireland, but underestimated the distance to the city and could not fit it into his schedule. Lib., 30 October 1846; Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 3:155–78; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:429–30.—but it will not be in my power[.] I am now about to tell you something which will make you think me the most fickle of men. I have decided to stay in this country six months longer6Douglass remained in England until April 1847. Lib., 26 March 1847. and I should not wonder if Mr. Wright7Henry C. Wright. should do the same. Though I am sure with far less reason than I have to justify me in staying, I have decided to stay in consequence of the advice both of Mr. Garrison and Mr. Thompson[.]8George Thompson. Both think the present a most favorable oppertunity for remodelling the Antislavery feeling of this country and bringing it to the aid of the true antislavery society in America—and each think it would be wrong for me to miss it. I have therefore decided to stay.

You may easily suppose the conclusion come to reluctantly when I tell you I had already written to my Anna9Douglass’s letter to his wife promising that he would return to Lynn on 20 November 1846 has not been located. telling her to expect me home on the 20th Nov. It will cost her some pain. Disappointment is the common lot of all10Possibly a variation on a quotation from a sermon by the Reverend Charles G. Finney, president of Oberlin College: “Great tribulations are the common lot of saints in every age and nation.” Oberlin Evangelist, 4 June 1845.—this may afford slight relief till I come.

In haste Dear Isa—Sincerely Yours



ALS: General Correspondence File, reel 1, frames 631–33, FD Papers, DLC. PLSr: Foner, Life and Writings, 5:48–49.


Douglass, Frederick (1818–1895)




Yale University Press 2009


Library of Congress, Frederick Douglass Papers



Publication Status



Library of Congress, Frederick Douglass Papers