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Frederick Douglass Elizabeth Pease, November 8, 1849



Rochester, [N.Y.] 8 Nov[ember 18]49.


I take up my pen to thank you for the generous donation which you have kindly sent me by the the hand of our mutual Friend Eliza Nicholson of Carlisle. I am the more grateful because you had already contributed the amount which you had decided to give for this year. I take it as marked kindness that you have thus thought me worthy of your encouragement and support.

The North Star has had a multitude of difficulties to struggle with—perhaps greater than any of my English friends can well understand. I commenced the paper against the advice of many of my best friends—and in this I may have acted unwisely, since they of course do not feel that interest in its success that my former and present relations to them led me to expect. Of the motives which led me to commence the paper, I need say but little. The general contempt with which my people are regarded—the low estimate entertained of the negro’s mental and moral qualities among the white people of this land—and the absence of any very striking confutations of the debassing and depressing theories universally prevailant against us and the knowlege that the colored people feel a hesitancy about speaking through columns of papers of conducted by white persons led me to establish this paper as a means of bring out their power—in such a manner as to silence hurtful misrepresentations—and to remove the cruel and unnatural prejudices which may be safely set down as the most powerful agents in upholding slavery in this country. How far the motive has been justified by the results I may leave others to decide. I am however con-


vinced that the effort has not wholly failed. Good lasting good has been done by the paper and I am resolved that it shall continue while I have anything like the necessary means for continuing it.

My own puny abilities as a writer have been heavily taxed and I have performed my part with very little credit but then I have done the best I could and reason can ask no more. Without ever having had a days schooling and with no regular or sound knowlege of the rules of grammer—and very little reading I have managed to keep my paper up nearly two years with very little complaint against me either from its readers or a sneering contemporaneous press—although the latter have uniformly treated others rudely on this [score]. Upon the whole I feel a degree of complacency on account of the respect and consideration thus far extended to me by the press and public generally. Especially do I feel gratified for the spirit with which the enterprize is regarded by the people for whose benefit the paper was established. Most of the papers started by colored persons had failed its establishment, and as a consequence our people were generally disheartened and hopeless—and of course they feared that the fate which had consigned all others to defeat would also make mine a failure. It is Therefore a matter of surprise and gratification that the paper continues and the more intelligent and respectible among us are exerting themseles hopefully to keep the paper in existense. This is particularly the case with the colored people in Philadelphia who are industriously laboring to put paper on a permenant footing.

Believe me Dear friend—I shall do my utmost honorably to serve the cause of my race—and thereby to merit your esteem and approbation.

My family—wife1Anna Douglass. and five children2Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Charles Remond, Frederick, Jr., and Annie Douglass. are all well. I have three boys and two girls. Two Boy Lewis and Fredk go to school—and my Daughter3Rosetta Douglass. of whom you have heard—is also regularly going to school.

I am most sincerely yours,


ALS: Anti-Slavery Collection, MB. PLSr: Foner, Life and Writings, 1:411–12.


Douglass, Frederick




Yale University Press 2009



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