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Augustus L. Saunders to Frederick Douglass, July 23, 1851


AUGUSTUS L. SAUNDERS1Augustus Lewis Saunders (1814—87) became a physician after studying at the Medical College in Geneva, New York, and he practiced in his hometown of Brookfield in Madison County, New York. In 1856 he affiliated with the Republican party and was elected to local office after the Civil War. James H. Smith, History of Chenongo and Madison Counties, New York (Syracuse, N .Y., 1880), 533—35. TO FREDERICK DOUGLASS

Brookfield, [N.Y.] 23 July 1851.

You will please discontinue the papers sent to A. Saunders2Born in Rhode Island, Augustas Saunders (1785—1868) moved with his parents-to Brookfield, New York, in 1800. Married to Eunice Lewis Saunders, he was a farmer and carpenter, and the father of ten children, including the author of this letter, Augustus Lewis Saunders. Smith, History of Chenango and Madison Counties, 534—35. and myself, Brookfield P.O., Madison Co., N.Y. A. Saunder’s subscription is just expired according to the terms on which he subscribed. As to my account, I can’t tell how it stands, as I have sent money several times to make up the fractions of that sent to others. If you owe me, keep it, and if I owe you, please set it to the credit of that falsehood you keep posted in your paper, “Two dollars per annum, invariably in advance.”3In his prospectus for the North Star, which appeared in the 1 November 1847 issue of the Ram ’s Horn, Douglass announced the subscription price of his new paper as being “$2.00 per annum, paid in advance, and $2.50 if payment to be delayed over six months.” There are two reasons why I do not want your paper, one is, the falsehood above alluded to, and the other is, your advertisement and advocacy of “Quackery.”4Douglass’s advertisers included “Dr. Charles Munde’s Water Cure Establishment” in Northampton, Massachusetts. The water cure, or hydropathy, became popular in the 1840s and consisted of a regimen of coldwater baths and exercise. While the method did little to help those with serious ailments, it also did little harm in comparison with the prevailing alternative treatments of bleeding and purging. Many trained doctors, however, questioned the qualifications of physicians offering the water cure and generally labeled the method “quackery,” a moneymaking scam disguised as healing. In response to Saunders’s letter, James R. Johnson wrote a public letter, reprinted in Frederick Douglass’ Paper, defending hydropathy. FDP, 26 June, 14 August 1851. My acquaintance with your paper has been very short. If your principles of reform in government is based upon no better foundation than the reform you advocate in medicine, (about which I know more than of principles of government,) you are not the man for me to support, and I can do without your paper so long as you lend it to the publication of such-base slander of an honorable profession as your later issues are too heavily loaded with. The man that starts for the right, though of the finest talents, may be deceived, and you or I am in that position. Good bye.

Yours, for the liberation of the slave,



Saunders, Augustus L.




Yale University Press 2009


Frederick Douglass' Paper



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Frederick Douglass' Paper