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Frederick Douglass Amy Post, September 11, 1849



Macedon, [N.Y.] 11 Sept[ember] 1849.

Amy Post,


The conversation had with you this morning at E. Bloomfield1Douglass had been in East Bloomfield, New York, since Saturday, 8 September 1849, for an antislavery fair held by the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, of which Amy Post was a leading member. NS, 14 September 1849. has left a very uncomfortable impression on my mind—and especially do I feel grieved at your declaration of intention not to vote in favor of any further donations to the Star until I put the economical concerns of the paper under the charge of a committee—and also saying in a very singular manner that I knew you had power in the executive committee. These were strange words to me—and you were the last person from whom I should have expected them. The holding such a threat over me may be the best mode of treating me—but I am free to say that I think it otherwise.

I have no possible objection to having the books and paper of the North freely examined by any member of the Board of Managers of the Western New York Antislavery Society—wand never have had. If those Books have not been examined—it is no fault of mine. I have said this again and again. Now if any person thinks that I am disposing of the publics money improperly or fraudulently the Books are open to them.2Around 7 May 1849, the Posts, William Hallowell, and Edmund Willis began a financial investigation of the North Star, fearing impending bankruptcy. An initial inspection led them to believe that the newspaper was $400 in debt, and to hope that donations from English supporters and “a saving in the purchasing department” might alleviate the crisis. Eliza Griffiths also assisted Douglass in his personal finances by purchasing the mortgage to his home. Isaac Post to Amy Post, 7 May 1849, Post Family Papers, NRU; Palmer, “Partnership in the Abolitionist Movement,” 5.

I want you now to understand my entire feelings in regard to having a committee to take the pecuniary charge of the paper. In the first place—I consider that the paper is my own—to be used for the good of the Slave. I am personally responsible for its character—and for its debts—and must or ought to share the pecuniary advantages of the paper—if there should any arise from it. Such a responsibility brings with the right to manage the paper as I may deem best.

And while I should be glad to have a committee—who would kindly see that the Books of the concern are honestly and properly kept—and to point out where there can be a saving—and where there should be improvement, I can never consent to give up the entire control to persons who are not responsible for the debts of the concern. Such a course would be degrading to me as a man—and making me a mere cypher—in my own affairs.

I shall write to our mutual friends Wm Hallowell and Mr. Willes,3Edmund Willis. and solicit them to perform the duty which I have already indicated. I am sure they will serve, and if they will none others will be necessary.

I write in haste as I am on my way to attend the funeral of our departed friend Hannah Sexton.4Hannah Sexton (1803–49), a Quaker, fell ill with “inflammation of the stomach and bowels” in late August and died on 10 September 1849. She was married to Pliny Sexton, a banker, merchant, and abolitionist in Palmyra, New York, with whom she had six children. NS, 21 September 1849; 1840 U.S. Census, New York, Wayne County, Palmyra, 216–17.


With sincere Love to Dear Isaac and the same to your dear self I am faithfully yours as ever


ALS: Post Family Papers, NRU.


Douglass, Frederick




Yale University Press 2009



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