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Cosmopolite to Frederick Douglass, January 12, 1852


Harlem, New York, January 12, 1852.

Mr. Editor:—I am far removed from the din and bustle of the city; the hum of busy life comes to me somewhat relieved and chastened from the noise and turmoil which pervades Gotham; yet can I, even here, partake, in part, (in spirit at least) of the cares and pleasures, enjoyments and vexations of the great city which lies spread like a map almost beneath my feet, without the confusion with which the denizens therein are surrounded.

Before going fully into epistleizing, let me give you a glance at my location. Harlem is a suburban village about ten miles from New York, almost as old as the city itself; but until the establishment of the Harlem railroad, its whereabouts was as indefinite and its existence as problematical as is "Communipaw" at this day. It has, however, about it that which the modern palaces of Merchant Princes, and the city like improvements which are extending themselves around us, cannot divest it. These, together with the quaint looking old buildings, some partly modernized, and some in a semi-ruinous state, the remnants of the unfinished Canal on one side, the Railroad on the other, and the Telegraphic wires through the centre of the villages representing the three epochs of progress, the past, present, and future—these I say make Harlem look like a dwarfish elder brother of New York, with high heel boots on to disguise his pigmy height, and paint, powder, wig, &c., to hide the wrinkles and decrepitude of age.

Our village is built on a Champlain country, about two hundred feet above the level of the city. East of us is seen that beautiful inland sea known as Long Island Sound, which, for warlike associations, romantic legends and Indian traditions, and true picturesque beauty, may well be called the Mediterranean of the Western World. North, stands the fertile county of West-Chester, diversified by undulating hill and dale; the famous neutral ground of the Revolutionary War, between which and Harlem looms majestially that


massive structure know as the High Bridge which conveys the water from Croton Lake to the city. West, we are bounded by rock, hill and forest, with an occasional glimpse of the Hudson, beyond which are seen the palisades of Jersey. South, lies New York. The space between us is intersected with spots of vegetation, houses, lawns, grottoes and gardens, with here and there a small spot of clustering trees, which resembles a miniature forest.

The Committee of Thirteen are creating considerable excitement, and occupy a large space in the public mind. Their visit to Kossuth, (at which, I see, Prof. Allen takes umbrage,) together with their other recent transactions, have elicited for them considerable notoriety. I hope their future public actions will be in accordance with their professions, and what is expected of them.

Yours, truly,







Cosmopolite to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Paper, 22 January 1852. Provides general description of Harlem, New York.


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Frederick Douglass' Paper



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Frederick Douglass' Paper