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Albro S. Brown to Frederick Douglass, August 28, 1852



MR. EDITOR: SIR:—I am somewhat of an admirer of General Scott as a military man, and think that no one can question, but what there is combined in him to an eminent degree, courage, skill, and noble daring, from the fact that his efforts in the camp and upon the battle-field have been attended with brilliant victories. And so far as he has fought in actual defence of his country, he is entitled to credit, and should be remembered with gratitude by every American.

Self-defense is the first law of nature: hence nations as well as individuals are justifiable in defending life and liberty, even at the risk of destroying the lives of a contending foe. But all aggressive wars are unjust, and when viewed in the light of justice, reason and common sense, must and ought to be condemned by every lover of the human race. I think the Mexican war was one of aggression on the part of this nation, and cannot be justified by any existing rule of logic. Because the difficulties between the two nations were of such a nature that they might have been amicably adjusted, and that too without war and bloodshed. When this nation invaded Mexico and commenced a war of extermination upon her people, it overstepped the bounds of national propriety, and occupied a guilty position before the civilized world. So when General Scott led on the armies of the United States and spread death and destruction in the ranks of the Mexicans, he and his coadjutors committed acts, which if they had been done by individuals in private life, would have been regarded as wilful murder, and would have been punished with death!

If I attack my neighbor and destroy a portion of his family, the laws of our States would regard me as a murderer, and if convicted of said crime I would have to swing upon the gallows. So if one nation attack another, and without just cause destroy a portion of its subjects, is it not equally as guilty as he who destroys the family of his neighbor? It would be regarded as murder in both cases, one in individual, and the other in national capacity. Wrong should not be tolerated in nations, any sooner than in individuals or communities. I know that there has been some attempt to justify Gen. Scott because he acted under the authority of this government. But that is no ground of justification, because he might have resigned his post; and it strikes me that if he had been prompted by the principles of justice and philanthropy, he would have done so, instead of acting as an agent for this government in the perpetration of that wrong upon the Mexican Government. I do not suppose that General Scott was more to blame than General Taylor and others; but I speak more particularly of him because he is held up by the leading Whig journals as the embodiment of justice, philanthropy, courage, skill, and noble daring. They have clothed the hero of Chippaway and Lundy's Lane with a beautiful tissue, which I think in some respect is false, and will only dazzle to betray. Those who are permitted to use the elective franchise should look well to the object or candidate, in whose behalf they exercise it. The claims of General Scott to the Presidency are principally based upon his military achievements. Horace Greeley says that "there are thousands of whigs who never heard of Chippaway or Lundy's Lane."—


Again he says in the Tribune of Aug. 21st, "If there were simply a copy of the Campaign Life of Scott in the hands of every voter in the Union, this day, we do not believe he (Scott) possibly could be beaten." If the duties of the President consisted in fighting, why then a knowledge of the battles of Lundy's Lane and Chippewa would be of service, in aiding the voters of our country to judge of the qualifications of General Scott, to fill that high station. Virtue, honor, and thestrictest integrity, combined with a thorough knowledge of governmental affairs, should be the principal standards by which to judge of a man's fitness for that office. Mr. Greeley's great panacea for all doubting and halting Whigs, is the Campaign Life of Scott; the object of which, is to set forth his military achievements, as a basis upon which is claimed for him the office of President.—The circulation of such documents, and the constant prating about warriors, only has a tendency to instil into our nation a war spirit, which will mature, and be developed in all classes, from the gray haired sire, down to the prattling infant. Similar objections may be urged against Gen. Pierce.—He also went to Mexico and showed fight; and if he did not slay as many Mexicans as General Scott, it was for the want of requisite courage. His greatest battle was against the right of petition; this, however, was a lawless one, and, withal not very successful; for the fear of being wounded in the back, caused him to retreat from the field.

However worthy these two candidates may be, I think that no true anti-slavery man can consistently vote for either of them; from the fact that they, in accepting the nominations, have pledged themselves to strictly adhere to, and carry out the platforms of measures adopted by their respective parties, at their recent National Conventions.—And here is a part of two planks from their respective platforms, relating to that accursed institution—American slavery.—Please examine them carefully, before you make up your minds to support candidates and parties who are pledged to gag and put down all agitation and discussion concerning that law, which is more unjust than ever blotted the statutes of tyrannical Austria.


"The series of Acts of the Thirty first Congress, commonly known as the Compromise, or Adjustment, (the acts for the recovery included,) are received and acquiesed in by the Whigs of the United States, as a final settlement, &c.; and we deprecate all further agitation of the questions thus settled, as dangerous to our peace; and will discountenance all efforts to continue or renew such agitations, whenever, wherever, or however made; and we will maintain this settlement, as essential to the nationality of the Whig party, and the integrity of the Union."


"The Democratic party of the Union will abide by and adhere to a faithful execution of the Acts known as the Compromise Measures, settled by the last Congress.

Resolved, That the Democratic Party will resist all attempts at renewing, in Congress or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question,under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made."


Please compare with the above the two following resolutions, which are a part of the Platform adopted by the Free Democratic, or Free Soil National Convention, recently held at Pittsburgh.


14. "That slavery is a sin against God, and a crime against man, which no law or usage can make right: and that Christianity, humanity and patriotism, alike demand its abolition."

15. "That the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 is repugnant to the Constitution, to the principles of the common law, to the spirit of Christianity, and to the sentiments of the civilized world. We therefore deny its binding force upon the American people, and demand its immediate and total repeal."

Let every one examine, impartially, and be fully persuaded in his own mind; and instead of acting in the dazzling light of military trappings, let him act in the light of republican principles, reason, justice, and with a view to establish a righteous civil government.


ELLINGTON, August 28th, 1852.


Brown, Albro S. (1820–1890)




Albro S. Brown to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Paper, 10 September 1852. Claims Free Soil party is superior to both Whigs and Democrats.


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