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Frederick Douglass Amy Post, October 25, 1850



Boston, [Mass.] 25 Oct[ober] 1850.


I have this moment received your kind letter1Post’s letter to Douglass has not been located. and have but a moment, in which to say I thank-you for your dear kind words of cheer. This city is now the scene of the most intence excitment and alarm—there is now no doubt that warrents are now in the hands of the marshall for the arrest of three fugitive slaves and that officer is now watching his chance to light upon his victims.2In late October 1850, under the Fugitive Slave Law, two agents from Macon, Georgia, Willis H. Hughes and John Knight, arrived in Boston to apprehend two fugitive slaves, William and Ellen Craft. Although Judge Levi Woodbury had issued warrants for the fugitive slaves, local police chose not to arrest them. The Boston Vigilance Committee took immediate legal action against the agents and had Hughes and Knight arrested twice, the first time for slander and the second for attempted kidnapping. In both instances an unknown person posted the $10,000 bail for their release. Large crowds of blacks then besieged the agents’ hotel and shadowed their movements. This harassment, coupled with thinly veiled threats against their lives delivered by the Reverend Theodore Parker, eventually persuaded Hughes and Knight to return to Georgia without their prey. The Crafts, with the help of the Vigilance Committee, fled to England. NS, 31 October, 5 December 1850; Lib., 1 November 1850; Blackett, Beating against the Barriers, 87–137; Horton and Horton, Hard Road to Freedom, 154. Wm. and Mary Craft3In 1848 William (c. 1820–1900) and Ellen (1826–91) Craft escaped from Macon, Georgia. Ellen, who was light-skinned, disguised herself as a white man traveling north, with William acting as her valet. The two arrived in Boston, where their journey became widely publicized, and they joined William Wells Brown on his lecture tours. In 1850 this publicity attracted the attention of their former master, Robert Collins, who sent slave catchers to retrieve them, and the couple departed for England. There, they continued to lecture, ran a boardinghouse, and attended the Ockham School to improve their literacy and take vocational training. After the Civil War the Crafts opened similar schools in Dahomey in western Africa and later in Georgia. They remained involved in reform efforts, particularly those focused on Africa, for the rest of their lives. William Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860; Baton Rouge, La., 1999). are both under the liability—and is said that they are the persons pursued. These are terrific times. I am now —about to be off—to the meeting to Lawrence. My Dear friend I cannot stay longer here to write. Pray for me. I believe in prayer. May heaven—bless and smile upon you and your dear household.

Always yours


[P.S.] Womens Convention4Although the 1848 meeting at Seneca Falls has the reputation as the first women’s rights convention, it was a local meeting, organized and attended by residents of northwestern New York. The first national women’s rights convention took place at Brinley Hall in Worcester on 23 and 24 October 1850. Paulina Wright Davis, Abby Kelley Foster, Lucretia Mott, and Lucy Stone were among the organizers of the meeting, with William Lloyd Garrison, William H. Channing, and Bronson Alcott offering support. Over 255 antislavery activists, social reformers, and labor reformers, mostly from the Worcester area, signed the convention’s membership roll, although newspapers reported much higher numbers in attendance. The resolutions adopted by the convention included endorsements of married women’s property rights, reproductive education and access to birth control, equal pay, greater access to more occupations, and a condemnation of the role of the church in perpetuating women’s oppression. A year later, a second convention met in Worcester with similar results. Lib., 1 November 1850; John F. McClymer, ed., This High and Holy Moment: The First National Woman’s Rights Convention, Worcester, 1850 (Fort Worth, Tex., 1999); Holly N. Brown, “The Worcester Women’s Rights Convention of 1850: A Social Analysis of the Rank and File Membership” (M.A. thesis, University of Kentucky, 1994). was a grand affair. You shall hear more soon.

F. D.

ALS: Post Family Papers, NRU.



Douglass, Frederick


October 25, 1850


Yale University Press 2009



Publication Status