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Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, May 29, 1851



Rochester, [N.Y.] 29 May 1851.

Gerrit Smith Esq.


I have no answer yet from our Friend Thomas.1John Thomas. I wish it may be favorable when it comes. Should it be otherwise—I will not urge the union further, but press my “Star” onward, with all the means I can command. I do not mean that the “Star” shall die at any rate—nor shall it take one step backwards as to the Anti Slavery Character of the U. S. Con[stitution] nor of the duty of political action on the subject of slavery. I have got letter from Ward2Samuel Ringgold Ward.—and have replied to it this morning. I think he will accept of the


union.3Douglass made arrangements to merge the North Star with the Syracuse–based Liberty Party Paper edited by John Thomas. Douglass hoped that a third paper, the Impartial Citizen, edited by Samuel Ringgold Ward, would join his venture as well. Ward chose to maintain his failing paper, but did agree to act as a New England correspondent for the newly formed Frederick Douglass’ Paper. NS, 12 June 1851; FDP, 26 June 1851. I offer him—first all the donations and collections he can obtain for the paper as a travelling agent. I offer him—fifty cents for every cash yearly subscriber he shall obtain for the paper—and half that for half yearly subscribers. I offer him-three doll[ar]s per week for his services as Corrisponding Editor of the paper. Still further I offer him what you Gerrit Smith Esq. shall designate as a fair price for his subscription list.

Mr. Thomas misapprehended me in one or two particulars. I was not surprised that he held his services so high—or so low—but was puzzled to know—where the money was to come from with which to pay him. I told him—that I preferred Rochester to Syracuse, as the place of publication.

A remark in Mr. Thomas’s letter makes it necessary for me to say,—that, in the event of the union of papers,—you may hold me—morally, intellecually, and mechanically responsible for the character of the paper. However impertant I may, in that event, deem the services of my friend—Mr. Thomas,—and how much so ever—I may avail myself of his friendly counsel, I shall not put the helm in other hands than my own. It is proper to be thus explicit to avoid future misunderstanding.

Julia Griffiths sends, with my own—her sincere regards to yourself and Mrs. Smith.4Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith.

Most truly your’s


ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.


Douglass, Frederick (1818–1895)




Yale University Press 2009



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