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Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, July 10, 1851



Rochester, [N.Y.] 10 July [1851].

Gerrit Smith Esq.


My friend, Julia,1Julia Griffiths. has just handed me a letter from your hand to her—enclosing your order of one hundred dollars in my favor.2Julia Griffiths, ever zealous in her devotion to the cause of abolition and to Douglass in particular, occasionally embarrassed him with her boldness in soliciting donations. She often wrote to Gerrit Smith requesting money on Douglass’s behalf, as is suggested here. In a letter to Smith on 10 July 1851, she noted, “Our friend Frederick is rather disturbed at my having troubled you . . . as he feels . . . claims before you to be too heavy.” Palmer, “Partnership in the Abolition Movement,” 4–5. I was taken all aback by this favor. My friend acted in the matter without consulting me —and altho’ the money is needed—I regret that you should never been called upon thus early. You are already burdened to an extent that greives me—and I am anxious to set an example of ability to take care of my self which shall prove grateful to your feelings, and re-assure you in the truth that while it is “more blessed to give than to receive”3Acts 20:35. that it is also blessed to receive.

I would like to say much to you—but I am writing with a feeble and trembling hand this being my first letter since my convalescence[.]4Douglass was recovering from an attack of “bilious fever,” the general term for any unknown stomach ailment, compounded by a sore throat that persisted despite his having had his tonsils removed three years earlier. His poor health prevented him from keeping up with his editorial duties, and he feared that the illness in his throat would permanently hamper his speaking career. He therefore believed that he should devote more time to his newspaper. NS, 30 June 1848; FDP, 24 July 1851. I hope to be stronger in a few days.

My grateful love to yourself and Dear family.

I am most truly yours Always and to the end


ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.


Douglass, Frederick




Yale University Press 2009



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