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Abner H. Francis to Frederick Douglass, January 29, 1848


Buffalo, Jan. 29, 1848.

Messrs. Douglass & Delany:—Gentlemen: In my last, I promised that you should hear from me often. In the fulfilment of that promise, I feel that my whole duty is not discharged short of the accompanying, prerequisites necessary, and no doubt always acceptable, especially in a new movement like yours, and burdened with matters of such momentous import. I therefore enclose an addition to your subscription list. While so doing, I feel that a more appropriate opportunity could not present itself to say a word in regard to the position we occupy,—a glance at which, for years past, has, to me, always brought with it its accompanyment of sorrow. In this age of false reasoning, when the ethics of the learned and great are measured by circumstances, and dealt out by expediency, it is a matter of no surprise that subjects of incalculable blessing to the human race are sacrificed for the aggrandisement of the favored few; especially when men of intelligence will stand up and proclaim before the highest legislative tribunal in the nation, that the institution of Slavery is a part and parcel of the great compact; that it perfectly accords with the spirit and meaning of the word republican;—a nation which for more than half a century has boasted of her constitution and just equalization of laws; of her republicanism and her virtues; a nation which annually, on the fourth day of July, sends up her merry peals of joy and thanksgiving to the God of Liberty, that he has so distinguished her above other nations of the earth; a nation the safety of whose coming destiny alone rests upon the perpetuity of that republican principle which our forefathers waded in blood to achieve, but in part experienced; a principle which is dear to every true American, the basis upon which his liberty rests, and his incentive to action is founded.

I repeat, that in an age like this, it is not strange that a full application of these repub[li]can principles should be witheld from us, leaving the position we occupy, or the working out of these great principles of reform, mainly dependant upon our own exertions.—My cause for complaint, and to which I design making these few suggestions directly bear, has its apparent origin among ourselves, either in the large amount of unconsciousness in regard to the important position we occupy, and the duties that devolve upon us in working out our own redemption, or else it is based upon the principle of self-exaltation. I am sorry to be compelled to make this sweeping assertion, but I ask if it is not strange, amid all the intelligence our people possess, the difficulties to be met, and the haven in view, that our position is not fully realized? It seems that almost every redeeming feature or wise plan adopted to hasten and usher in that delightful morn, meets its most deadly thrusts from the hands of those whom it was intended to benefit. Instead of laying aside minor difficulties, or differences of opinion on irrelevant points, and coming up in one solid phalanx, to do battle with this giant Slavery, there seems to be a continual disposition to lurk by the wayside, and oppose this and that important movement; withholding their influence and means; but never backward to give liberally to support the low, miserable, pro-slavery, unintellectual dogmas, with which the world is filled. This paper cannot have their support, because its editors conscienciously believe that not only Slavery is sinful, and that the combined efforts of man should be arrayed against it; but they also believe that wars should cease, and that man should cease to imbrue his hands in the blood of his fellow man; that capital punishment should cease, &c., &c.; and this movement cannot have my support, because such an one failed, or it started from such and such a place, or by or through such and such hands. I will not numerate farther. These are the difficulties, my friends, which must be overcome. This quarrelling about what some call extraneous matter, diverting the attention from the great object in view, must be surrendered; and the overthrow of the monster iniquity, Slavery, be the rallying point around which our interests revolve, and to which all others should be subservient. Although I have differed many years from the views of some of the great pioneers in this branch of reform, far be it from me to cherish a single thought, so long as they prove faithful to the slave, of refusing to extend to them the right hand of fellowship; in fact, many of the first coadjutors, with Wm. L. Garrison, as their leader, have ever lain nearest my heart, and shall ever receive my warmest approval. I should be happy to see some abler pen take hold of this view of the subject, and enlarge more fully upon the imperfect views set forth.

Yours for the oppressed,



Francis, Abner H.




Abner H. Francis to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: NS, 4 February 1848. Argues that Constitution does not support slavery.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


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