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A. R. Dempster to Frederick Douglass, May 22, 1852



Mr. F. Douglass: Dear Sir: I have just finished reading the proceedings of the recent Anti-Slavery Convention in Cincinnati. As I passed through them, my mind was forcibly thrown back to the days of yore, when the Old Liberty Party's Conventions were common, when Edward Smith, T. B. Judson, Samuel Lewis, E. H. Nevin, and a host of others were wont to perambulate the State, and hold up the dark and hideous character of American slavery to the listening thousands. Then it was that anti-slavery had a soul in it; then it was that the people manifested a disposition to take the monster by the throat and strangle him at once. Alas, it is not so new! Anti-Slavery Conventions and meetings have become unfashionable, and seldom occur. We have an occasional Free Soil meeting, but there is so little of the true, whole-hearted anti-slavery principle about them, that they are insipid to the old-fashioned abolitionists. Compromise has, I fear, obtained a controlling influence over that party, and will finally, if it has not already, destroyed its influence as an anti-slavery instrumentality. There are quite a number of whole-hearted anti-slavery men connected with it, who possibly may keep life in it, yet I fear they will not be able to withstand the influence of General Compromise.


Since the Old Liberty Party was swallowed up in the Free Soil avalanche, anti-slavery has been advancing backward in Ohio, until there is but little left. A few years ago, Ohio presented a most promising aspect for the anti-slavery cause, as you will remember, from the tour you made through various portions of it. You spent two days in attendance upon an anti-slavery convention in this village. You made your impress here in the sowing of some good anti-slavery seed, and some tares. Both took root and sprang up. Similar crops have been harvested here since, until the tares predominate.

Without a figure, when you visited our place we had a community deeply infected with abolitionism of the Old Liberty Party stamp; we had a religious sentiment here, (aside from a pro-slavery church,) entirely opposed to fellowshipping the "sum of all villanies," and that sentiment on the increase daily, until the introduction of Garrisonianism. It is not so now. Garrisonianism has been so mixed up with infidelity here, and claiming to be the only se[r]mon pure abolitionism in the land, while a very few have been converted to its principles, many have been driven by it entirely away from the anti-slavery cause. They thought, if to be true abolitionists, it was necessary to repudiate the Bible government, and all church organizations; the sacrifice was too great, and consequently abandoned the cause. Every convert to Garrisonianism, here, as far as I know, has become more of less infidel to the Bible. You know they taught the doctrine that the Liberty Party was worse than the Whig or Democratic party; that anti-slavery


churches were worse than pro-slavery churches, because, forsooth, they professed to be engaged for the overthrow of slavery, and did not adopt the shibboleth of the Garrisonian Party, "no union with slaveholders, in church or state;" the "U.S. Constitution is a league with hell, and a covenant with death." I do not mention these facts for the purpose of bringing a railing accusation against our Garrisonian friends, but to chronicle what I esteem to be the true cause of the low state of the anti-slavery cause in this region. Others, doubtless, will differ with me on this subject, of which I will not complain. One thing is certain, those of us who esteem the Bible to be the revealed will of God to man, never can harmonize with comeonterism; and there is little of whole-hearted anti-slavery in the Free Soil Party, that very few of the Old Liberty Party men feel at home in it. We want something more radical; and from the best information we can obtain, we believe the new Liberty Party presents principles true to Christianity, true to the slave , and worthy of the support of every citizen who believes that Civil Government is of God and not of the Devil.

I doubt not but its principles will commend themselves to every Old Liberty Party man, when proudly presented and understood. Now, sir, in conclusion, let me ask the readers of your excellent paper, is there no means comcatable by which those principles can be brought fully and fairly before


the people? Where are the whole-hearted abolitionists of olden time? Not all dead, I know. Will not some competent man step forth and canvass the State of Ohio previous to the next Presidential election? I feel sure such a man would be sustained. Permit me further to remark to you, my friend Douglass, that I think you are indebted to Ohio a lecturing tour, and now is the time to make it. Come, then, and root up some of the tares you sowed in the days of your "ignorance," and we will be exceedingly grateful to you for it; besides, you will have accomplished a great work for the advancement of the anti-slavery cause. Excuse this hasty scroll, and believe me, as heretofore, sincerely engaged in the cause of human rights.


Leesville, Carroll, O., May 22d, 1852.


Dempster, A. R.




A. R. Dempster to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Paper, 3 June 1852. Criticizes Garrisonians and Free Soil party while praising Liberty party.


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