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Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, July 14, 1852



Rochester, [N.Y.] 14 July 1852.

Gerrit Smith Esq.


Your notes of this and yesterday morning1Neither of Smith’s letters to Douglass has been located. cheer me. You not only keep life in my paper but keep Sperit in me. I owe you much every way—for my people—and for myself. Your letter to my friend Miss Griffiths2Julia Griffiths. in which you send 25 doll[ar]s to be used in publishing my 4th July Speech—makes me uneasy. The zeal of my friend is great—and I fear she sometimes seems too urgent on my behalf. I must tell you however that I really am desireous to make some money as well as do some good with that speech. I am intending to do considerable lecturing—and I must have something to carry with me to sell. I rely mainly on this method for the means of living and travelling. Every town has not a Gerrit Smith in it—to slip a five “dollar bill” in the hand of the antislavery lecturer, to enable him to pay his way. I must have something to sell. Your pamphlets which you generously gave me are now nearly exhausted—and I must have something to fill their place. Yet my dear Sir—I would not, in view of what I know to have been your expences in the Chaplin3William L. Chaplin. case, have called upon you for one cent to help me publish my lecture here on the 4th or 5th July.

You shall not be called upon further to aid in publishing my lectures—and yet I do not doubt if I should very much need your friendly aid—you would give it. Since on this point, I may say, that I am not looking for one cent more from you, in support of “Frederick Douglass’ Paper,” than you kindly offered to give at the first. And should the paper not be able to live when that sum is exhausted—I will submit with resignation to its death. Not that I sit lightly by it for so I do not. I have nursed it too long not to love it and to desire long life and usefulness to it; But that feeling must be sub-


ject to proper limits. I ought not to strip myself of all I have to sustain my paper. I have already given the half of my worldly goods—and the whole of my time for five years—with the incedental support—which friends like you in heart but unlike you in purse have been able to give me. Now I am unwilling to tax my friends for my support—unless with their freest consent. I am fully able to work and to get a living and if after a fair trial, I find that my paper shall not be deemed of sufficient use to be sustained, I will freely give up and go to work.

With Sincere gratitude and warm affection Yours to the end


ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU. PLSr: Foner, Life and Writings, 2:205.


Douglass, Frederick




Yale University Press 2009



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