Frederick Douglass C. H. Chase, February 9, 1849
FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO C. H. CHASE
[Rochester, N.Y. 9 February 1849].
MY DEAR SIR:—
I owe you an apology for not sooner publishing and replying to the above letter.1On 23 January 1849, C. H. Chase wrote a letter to Douglass, reminding him that he had challenged Chase to a debate on the nature of the Constitution in relation to slavery. That letter appears in this volume. NS, 9 February 1849. On a close examination of the Constitution, I am satisfied that if strictly “construed according to its reading,” it is not a pro-slavery instrument; and while I disagree with you as to the inference to be drawn from this admission, you will see that in the resolution, between us there is no question for debate.
I now hold, as I have ever done, that the original intent and meaning of the Constitution (the one given to it by the men who framed it, those who adopted, and the one given to it by the Supreme Court of the United States) makes it a pro-slavery instrument—such an one as I cannot bring myself to vote under, or swear to support.
PLSr: NS, 9 February 1849. Reprinted in Foner, Life and Writings, 1:352–53.