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Frederick Douglass Ephraim D. Williams and James D. Knight, December 15, 1848



Rochester, [N.Y.]1The placeline of the letter also includes “No. 4 Alexander Street.” 15 Dec[ember] 1848.

Messrs. E. D. WILLIAMS and S. D. KOUGHTS.2James D. Knight.

A six weeks absence from home,3Douglass had just returned from a speaking tour that took him throughout Massachusetts and to Providence, Rhode Island, for the annual meeting of the Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Society. NS, 11, 24 November, 1 December 1848. on an anti-slavery tour in New England, and from which I have but just returned, will account to you for not having received an earlier response to your favor of Nov. 28;4Williams and Knight wrote a letter to Douglass on 28 November 1848 in which they urged all opponents of slavery to hang portraits of Douglass and others in their parlors as a show of solidarity. Douglass published that letter with this response in the 15 December 1848 issue of the North Star. That letter also appears in this volume. and will also be


my apology for not sooner acknowledging the receipt of two elegantly framed portraits—one of my esteemed friend Henry Highland Garnet, and the other of myself.

For this fresh expression and marked evidence of your confidence and esteem, I beg you to accept my heartfelt thanks. A present of this kind, coming from another quarter, might cause me some hesitation about accepting it; but coming from yourselves, and such persons as yourselves, I accept it readily and gladly, and shall prize it highly.

Your warm approbation and high applause, unlike that of the wicked, is not the reward of treachery, nor a bribe to aposta[s]y. My faithfulness in dealing with the guilty slaveholders, and their not less guilty minions in church and state, can receive no higher earthly sanction, than is found in the cordial approbation of the oppressed. With a deep and earnest desire to merit your continued approval, and a solemn resolve to discharge my whole duty to the enslaved—to devote myself unreservedly to the improvement and elevation of the hated and disfranchised of this and all other lands—to defend the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the oppressor, the slave against the slaveholder—I beg again to return you my unfeigned thanks, accompanied with my ardent hopes that no change of circumstances which may hereafter occur, except a betrayal of the sacred cause of human freedom, shall take from me the warm consolations of your grateful approbation and applause.

I am, gentlemen, with sentiments of gratitude and high esteem, your devoted serv’t,


PLSr: NS, 15 December 1848.


Douglass, Frederick




Yale University Press 2009



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