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A Friend to Frederick Douglass, June 21, 1852


Rochester, June 21, 1852.
Mr. Douglass: Dear Sir: — My former
letter closed by an inquiry into the consist-
ency or inconsistency of our holding the prin-
ciples of the Liberty Party, in co-operating
with the New York State Anti-Slavery Soci-
ety, in so far, as it seeks the overthrow of
slavery in its connection with civil govern-

Certainly I do not regard this Society in
an invidious light, as marking off a mere sec-
tarian, anti-slavery domain, whose laborers
are to be required to stoop beneath the gate-
way of its new Constitution. Far from this.
There are fundamental principles incorpora-
ted in this movement, which are found in no
other merely anti-slavery organization.—
Among these, as a prime element of the Con-
stitution, is its view of the connection which
slavery has with civil government: and, con-


sequently, our duty in relation to it. It ex-
pressly declares that it is "morally wrong"
to vote for slaveholders or their apologists, or
for those who will not use their powers for
the abolition of slavery. It affirms that "it
is impossible that slaveholding can be either
sanctioned by the Divine law, or be made le-
gal by any human governments, constitu-
tions, statutes, or judicial decisions," and it
entitles the colored man "to all the rights,
privileges, and elegibilities of the white
man." This is virtually adopting the creed,
No political union with slavery. It is enter-
ing the appropriate domain of politics.--
Then, either the new organization is in part
a political reform society, or it must be a po-
litical annihilation society. To be co-work-
ers in the movement in either case, would be
abandoning Liberty Party grounds. Let us
see if these positions can be made evident.

The popular voice declares that slavery
can be "legalized by human governments,
constitutions, statutes, and judicial de-
cisions; "and that it is now legalized in our
government." It denies the colored man
rights, privileges, and elegibilities in the gov-
ernment, which it teaches that it is not
"morally wrong to vote for slaveholders or
their apologists." The society alms at an ut-
ter destruction of these time-honored, ma-
jority-honored political tenets. It knows
that they are the foundation pillars of the
present and past administration of our gov-
ernment; and that if they are thrown down,
the administration must fall with them.


To say that it is not a political reform so-
ciety, is to say that it is pulling down without
building up. It is to declare that it is not
endeavoring to separate from the American
government the corrupt views and practices
which have fastened themselves like vampires
upon it, sucking its very heart's blood. But
it does professedly aim to destroy slavery, the
offspring of these corruptions, slavery, whose
life is indissolubly joined with the parent
life, as Milton's grim monster, Death, was
dependent for existence upon the life of his
mother, Sin. So if it does not separate the
corruptions which have grown to the govern-
ment, and with the government, till they are
more than Siamese twins, then slavery, sla-
very sustaining legislation, and the govern-
ment must live or die together. How can we avoid the conclusion?


To destroy them all, is the acknowledged
aim of Mr. Garrison. He believes that the
very vitals of the government are infected
with the evil, that the whole land is sick, and
the whole heart faint; from the sole of the
feet even unto the head, there is no sound-
ness in it, but it is one mass of putrifying
sores; he contends, too, that they cannot ef-
fectually be closed up, neither bound up, nor
in any way mollified with ointment. When
we believe as he believes, that not only the
United States Government, but Civil Govern-
ment in general, is a fitting device of the
devil, and must do more evil than good,
then we may do as he does--may adopt as our
watchword toward the government, "raze it,
raze it, even unto the foundations thereof."

But Liberty Party men believe no such
thing. Most of them put an anti-slavery con-
struction upon the constitution as it now is:
and all contend for a righteous anti-slavery
government in the country. They are po-
litical reformers, and if they work in such an
organization, as the New York State Anti-
Slavery Society, they work there as political
reformers, not as political annihilators. If
they do otherwise, then have they clearly
abandoned Liberty Party principles.

We turn now to the inconsistency of work-
ing as political reformers in such an organi-
zation. First, it is not openly and avoidedly
a political movement. It does not contem-
plate leading its members fairly up to the an-
ti-slavery polls, only towards them. It is a
sort of grand father grey-beard, made to
point out the the way to others, while it has no
thought of taking a step therein itself. Os-
tensibly, it proposes a moral effort, rather
than a political one.


Now, popular politicians say, political come-
outers say, and the world at large says,
"there is too much corruption in politics, to
have a moral movement mixed up with it. --
A political platform is no place from which
to reach the people, to enlist their sympa-
thies and judgments on the side of truth. --
When one talks morals and religion from a
political stand, it passes for merely party or
personal capital, and produces little effect on
the hearer. From the nature of political ma-
chinery, this must always be a fact." If
they say truly, then, in the name of every-
thing good, let Liberty Party men abandon
the political yoke at once, and go over to a
simple, moral movement. Let them turn
and do battle against the whole subject of
politics, which is so inherently corrupt, that
everything connected with it loses its power
over the minds of the people, and is deemed
unworthy, on account of the very company
it keeps.

But if politics can be reformed, if the tree [REMAINDER MISSING]


Friend, A (Pseudonym)




A Friend to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Papers, 1 July 1852. Defends Liberty party; criticizes Garrisonians.


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