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Amos Gilbert to Frederick Douglass, March 22, 1848


Salem, O.

March 22, 1848

Friend Douglass:ー

Partly because he may have omitted it, and partly because he might feel some delicacy in saying what I may say, I will tell that M. R. Delany has been in this place, where he addressed one audience on National Reform, and two on Anti-Slavery, all, so far as I have ascertained, with general acceptance. He is one of those cases to whom reference may be made in proof that black persons may be elevated ー that is, that by industrious application, individuals, not of the privileged class, may rise to intellectual respectability. I could wish attention might be unceasingly called to observation of this fact, not knowing of a more effectual mode of producing conviction of our common brotherhood. It may well be questioned whether the improvement, whatever it may be, of earth’s concerns, can be traced to superior organizations, or superior instructions, so certainly as to untiring efforts for self-improvement. At wide distances are stars of the first magnitude; but the light we receive from the second, third, &c., exceeds all that the first shed upon us. My hopes are based on the careful culture of ordinary minds; they outnumber all above and below them, and are conscious that their chief reliance must be on their indefatigable industry.

When I had written the above, the North Star came from the Post Office. On looking over its pages, I saw an article under the caption, "Education," and that recalled to memory that in back numbers I had been pleased to observe that the subject had claimed attention. I hope it will continue to do so, for on education everything future dependsーI mean the kind of education, and who gets it. More than most others, perhaps I have desired that it might be liberally extended to all persons of color now excluded by law from its benefits. Thirty years since, I endeavored to impress upon audiences of free colored people the important relation in which they stood to their brethren in bonds, and that they could not aid in their enfranchisement more efficiently than by rising in their intellectual and moral character. We could not long hold men in slavery whom we feel to be our equals; and as the North is the great slaveholder, the North should be enlightened on the equal susceptibility of improvement.

If I felt myself warranted in offering suggestions on any subject, it would be that Reformers, in all departments, would make education prominent; that publishers should make it conspicuous in their periodicals, and it would delight me to see the North Star in the lead.

There is work to be done, and operatives should be looking at their
work, and not at its projectors. A pretty good illustration of the results of doing, is in Marlboro, west of this place. A set of real working Abolitionists, not "having the fear of the school law before their eyes," have for years admitted colored children in school on common terms; but not satisfied with this, they have had for Director Charles Lancaster, who is not chargeable with a drop of Anglo-Saxon blood coursing in his veins. This was effected by working pretty hard work, and that continued, but it succeeded, and ever must with judicious perseverance.

Seven or eight years ago, I passed part of a winter in New York city. My acquaintance with the people was very limited. I do not remember but one colored person, and that one was good Thomas Van Rensselaer, who manifested cordial sympathy throughout. Ten such as he then was, would greatly benefit, if they could not save a city. But I must close.



Gilbert, Amos




Amos Gilbert to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: NS, 12 May 1848. Praises good works of Martin R. Delany and North Star coverage of education.


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


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