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Calvin Fairbank to Frederick Douglass, November 30, 1849


Letter from Calvin Fairbanks.
Pike, Nov. 30th 1849.
Dear Brotherー
I had intended some time since to have written you after the meeting of the ladies in Buffalo for the purpose of hearing the report of their committee sent to the venerable Gerritt Smith, with means and instructions to present him with a Silver Pitcher as a token of respect and regard for his generous patriotism and Christian philanthropy toward their people, the people of color, with whom he, and I hope I, feel to all intents and purpose identified.
I feel the most exquisite pleasure when I am able to inform you that that meeting was one arguing most strongly the claims of the colored people to the rights and immunities extended to, and enjoyed by other men of other complexion in the United States.
Although it is said of public meetings held by ladies, "that there is a vacancy there which can be filled only by man," yet, at this meeting, held on Tuesday evening, Nov. 20th, there was a stillness, a degree of order, interest and impressing solemnity characteristic only of a generous, intelligent, patriotic and Christian people.
The meeting was opened by some introductory remarks by Abner H. Francis, their Committee to Mr. Smith, in relation to his intellectual and moral character, his sincerity and the demonstrations of his philanthropy. He entered into an account of Mr. Smith's ultimate design in the bestowment of land to our people of color; the situation and fertility of those lands, and the importance of immediately improving the opportunities held out. The merits of Mr. Smith, as he had sacrificed and forgone any and all high stations in the gift of the people, for the sole purpose of defending the oppressed, nominally free men of color, together with the utility and practicability of presenting him this token of regard. It is truly matter of importance and has added much to their intellectual and moral weight. This token confirms what I have often said, that that people may own no superiors in point of gratefulness for friendship and favor. This token will not only have a tendency to stimulate Mr. Smith in his labor of love, but others, and me. After this, Mr. Francis proceeded to deliver, or rehearse Mr. Garnet's speech on the presentation of the pitcher. The nature of the address, and the occasion rendered it truly solemn and impressive. Mr. Smith's speech on its reception, was next read, with his expression of thanks for such a token. Mr. Francis' speech which was delivered before Mr. Smith at this interesting gathering of friends was next read. The whole scene as represented by Mr. Francis, was really magnificently solemn and impresive. Nothing of the kind, in my opinion, could have interested me more than to have been present on this occasion. But the meeting of the societyーthe vast number of people in attendance, together with the decorum and ability with which it was conducted, rendered it quite an imposing occasion.
Let me not forget the people of Detroit.ーIt is impossible to express the feeling I possess for that people for their kindness manifested toward me while there in October, and the industry, economy, politeness and vigilance of that people, touching charitable and religious subjects, especially the cause of the slave. There is a spirit kindled there daily among the dry, prepared wood in the hearts of those who were once slaves, but whom nothing can now enslave. I say nothing, because, first of all they possess power of mind, and next, they have secured the good will of the community; and in the last place, it is out of the power of the South to enslave them. Thank God!
I hope soon (about Christmas) to be in Buffalo again, prepared to address the people once more, when I intend to give them in detail my experience in Kentucky. I intend then, to proceed to your city, where I hope to enjoy a happy meeting of the friends of man's rights, both the white and colored man. When I visit Rochester I shall be on my way to Boston where I hope to spend the winter with my friend Lewis Hayden, and other friends in that city.
Calvin Fairbanks.


Fairbank, Calvin




Calvin Fairbanks to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: NS, 7 December 1849. Describes presentation of silver pitcher to Gerrit Smith by female abolitionist in Buffalo.


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


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