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Andrew B. Slater to Frederick Douglass, February 2, 1852


Letter from Andrew B. Slater

The Governor's Message is causing some excitement among the colored inhabitants of this State, whether there is reason for that excitement or not, I do not know; that he has shown his opposition to our peaceably, quietly and prosperously remaining here, cannot be denied; that he has, from our decrease from 1840 to 1850, undertaken to show that "the African, like the Indian race, cannot permanently co-exist on the same soil with the whites," is also evident. I most cheerfully admit that the cruelties and oppressions of the whites have been sufficient to exterminate almost any race of people.—But still I argue that if instead of being "even in our own State excluded from the most essential privileges of citizenship, debarred from all participation in public enjoyments, rejected from most of the institutions of learning and religion, shut out from social intercourse, and condemned to a life of servility and drudgery," I say, that if we had been taken by the hand, assisted, instructed placed upon our feet, as they should have done, (seeing that they imported us instead of our emigrating,) and as they have done by emigrants, some of which are the most debased, degraded and irredeemably ignorant of all others under the sun, if they except some of their own back-woods-men or some of our most populous city loafers, who know nothing but to sustain a miserable existence by their ingenious frauds.


I say, sir, that seeing we were brought here "nearly as early as the whites," a circumstance "over which we had no control," hence "cannot be deemed responsible;" had they treated us in the manner above described, they would not have felt "the instincts of nature too powerful to be counteracted by the requirements of abstract reasoning, and to proclaim that the two races must sooner or later be separated." But had we been permitted to receive a full share of that christianity and civilization, which he says we have picked up enough of in the "scene of humiliation." to christianize and civilize one hundred and fifty millions of people who have "been for ages in heathen barbarism," likewise to render us competent to make our own laws and administer them with regularity and justice. No sir, had we but been allowed our share of those refinements which (by the way) have not been able as yet to cause them to do away all the relics of heathen barbarism, and which we have been obliged to receive second hand, mutilated, "under circumstances so calculated to crush the spirit of manhood," there would not have been the present cry of inferiority, can't dwell together unless they are slaves, send them to Africa, &c., &c. But here we are, and here we will stay, resolved that if we cannot live and die peaceably and our bones moulder in, they must whiten on, our own native soil. But not to stay as drones, but as men; and as men, we have a determined, bold, energetic work to perform. We must be determined to step out of that "life of servility and drudgery," of which he speaks, and become men. We must no longer,


as a thing of course, suffer our children to become cooks, waiters, barbers, waiting-maids, &c., but we must enter that wide American field of enterprise, respectful though determined, become artists, manufacturers, mechanics, tradesmen, horticulture and agriculturists, in short, take part in all the useful occupations of the land; and let it be understood by our actions that we ask no particular favor nor legislation; that all we ask is a general protection of our rights, persons and property. Let us one and all take this course, and set a noble example to the rising generation, and by such a course we shall soon become an important, respectable, inseparable portion of the country. We have friends, and with friends, industry and prudence, we can get wealth; with wealth, all will be well. Gov. Hunt and myself agree in some respects; in others, we disagree. In regard to our going to Africa, we disagree. In respect to his going into immediate retirement on the expiration of his term, our sentiments harmonize remarkably. I believe we can and will live upon this soil peaceably and prosperously together, although opposed to me in that belief I have a person of no less proportions than Washington Hunt; therefore you may rely upon me as yours, for a permanent stay at home on our own soil in these United States.

Andrew B. Slater.

Canandaigua, Feb. 2, 1852.


Slater, Andrew B.




Andrew B. Slater to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Paper, 12 February 1852. Criticizes New York governor Washington Hunt for endorsing colonization.


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


Frederick Douglass' Paper



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Frederick Douglass' Paper