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Abner H. Francis to Frederick Douglass, September 17, 1848


Buffalo, Sep. 17, 1818

Dear Douglass:ー

When I last saw you, I promised to notice some of the doings of that notorious wolf in sheeps clothing, Rev. J. B. Pinney, who has at intervals for many years, passed through the country doing the dirty work of slavery's bidding, under the garb of Philanthropy, as agent of the American Colonization Society. He has finally made his debut in a series of four lectures before an audience of from 75 to 100, a portion of which, were those that do not sympathise with his darling scheme. The base ingratitude manifested towards the colored people throughout his lectures, justly merits the disapprobation of every honest American. I would go at length to show up his false position, were I not acquainted with the fact, that the merits and demerits of the Colonization Society, have years since been analysed, and that it has received its everlasting quietus, so far as the realization of the end in view is to be obtained.

He introduced himself by a mournful appeal, with uplifted hand, to heaven, to assist the Colonization Society in doing something for the down trodden and abused Negro. He made but very little progress in his remarks, before he got off the track of his unbounded benevolence, by appealing to the prejudices of the people; of the impossibility of the colored man's being elevated in this country, and whether any of the audience, or even the most humble among the whites, would be willing that the most intelligent among the colored men should marry their daughter; that the slave holders could not emancipate their slaves, and suffer them to remain at the South; that as soon as they received education, they would demand equal political privileges, and their numbers being much greater than that of the whites, they would become the law makers, and the whites subject to the blacks; that the whites would never submit to black Judges, black lawyers, &c., &c.; that this government was not responsible for slavery, England was the guilty culprit, in forcing it upon us, and never ceasing their traffic until the law was passed breaking up the slave trade, and then they were loudest in calling for emancipation.ーThen the abolitionists were complained of for calling the slaveholders thieves and robbers, and that they ought to be paid for their slaves. Virginia, he said, always deplored the system, and in her early history more than 10,000 were emancipated, and were on the eve of final emancipation, when the abolitionists commenced, which turned back the tide of emancipation, and compelled the South to enact laws prohibiting emancipations on the soil; that the law was just; the blacks were a poor degraded, thievish set of beings, consequently, a law that would be considered barbarous to inflict over an enlightened people, would be a just one over those unenlightenedーmeaning the colored people; that they were not fit for liberty unless educated. He also stated that the Colonization society had no idea of sending all the blacks out of the country; that it was a scheme of the purest benevolence ever started in world; that no white laborers would settle in a community cursed with slave labor; that the rapid increase of white emigrants in this country, would at some future day so fill up the South that they would outnumber the blacks, and then they might legislate for their freedom. He and C. M. Clay, the great abolitionist, told him in conversation last year, when he asked him what he would do, or what would Kentucky do when her slaves were emancipated;ーand his reply was, that he had not given that idea of the subject any consideration; no doubt said he, they would become so debased and profligate, that they would die off and become extinct. But he did not care for that, he was for benefitting the white man. The next hundred years, said he, without the carrying out of his scheme of Colonization, would then be found not three Garrisonian abolitionists across Mason and Dixon's line. But already had the inhabitants of Liberia arisen to equality with the whites, citing as proof President Roberts and others, recently in New York, and the attention paid them by the Mayor &c., of that city.

I will not quote further; these were some of his prominent positions, as taken in his different lectures. I will now leave you to comment, if you deem it necessary. Every careful reader can see the unreasonableness, and entire contradiction of his own statements, note two or three. He never can be elevated with the whites. Already on an equality with those who are in Africa. Poor degraded and profligate; but as soon as transported across the ocean to Africa, a heathen country, the transition produces all that is noble, refined, and cultivated. No white laborers would settle in a country cursed with slave labor; when the emigrants filled up the South so as to out number the blacks, then it would answer to legislate for freedom. This is a sample of that man's reasoning, who Dr. Bacon, editor of the Day Book says, that he not only retains, but obtained from birth some of that blood which he despises; but that he can prove him, as well as Roberts the President of the Republic of Liberia, men of no principle, dishonest, and much more of what constitutes bad men. I challenged him to a discussion, but of course he refused. I leave him to his own destruction, which he is rapidly working out. I purpose calling a public meeting next week, and review his argument.

Yours for Justice,



Francis, Abner H. (1813–1872)




Abner H. Francis to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: NS, 29 September 1848. Elaborates work of John Brooke Pinney, American Colonization Society agent.


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


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