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Daniel Foster to Frederick Douglass, December 21, 1852


Letter from Daniel Foster.

Friend Douglass:—In your paper of Dec. 17th, I notice an article under the heading, "The Position of Daniel Foster," on which I think a word of comment is needed. I do not suppose you intend to misrepresent the position of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Yet the readers of your paper who do not also read the Liberator will be led astray by your remarks in the article, and will be made to regard the Massachusetts Society as intolerant and proscriptive. Judging by my own observation and experience I deem such an idea wholly unfounded and unjust. You say, "We publish certain inquiries, made by the Practical Christians as to the Anti-Slavery Orthodoxy of Daniel Foster, an agent of "the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society," who has committed the heresy of advising every abolitionist who could conscientiously do so, to vote for Horace Mann for Governor of Massachusetts. This would not seem on the face of it to be a very terrible transgression but that is owing somewhat to the point from which the thing is viewed. Taking the ground that all voting is of the devil, and that all abolitionists who do so are apostate and haters of the slave, the thing looks really black."

In the above extract from your editorial remarks, great injustice is done to the most efficient Anti-Slavery agency in our country. Your readers will at once inter that the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society holds these sentiments, and so inferring will be prejudiced against the society. Such inference is unjust. Wm. Lloyd Garrison rejoices as much as any man in the anti-slavery efforts of political abolitionists These are political abolitionists who refuse to compromise with oppression. Gerrit Smith is the noble leader of these men. But the Free Soil Party has stood on the ground of compromise. Mr. Garrison and those who act with him have condemned the policy which brings abolitionists into alliance with pro-slavery parties and men in order to secure a "slice of governmental loaf." They have ceased not, "day nor night," to show both the weakness and the criminality of this policy which has been so common and so disastrous with the anti-slavery political parties in our country. It is true that Mr. Garrison and the leading men and women in the Massachusetts Society are non voters for conscience sake. I differ


with them here. I think we must have political action. And if I have the opportunity to vote for a true man, I think duty calls me to the polls. I derive my right to vote from a principle antecedent to and more sacred than the Constitution of the United States, to wit the inalienable right of the governed to participate in the choice of the governor.—Woman has the same right to vote that man has. God gives this right to all responsible members of society. Human constituents and laws cannot confer it upon the subject nor take it away. By voting, then, I do not see that any one promises allegience to the Constitution or to the American laws. That Constitution as thus far and as now interpreted, applied, and executed, and all such laws as sustain slavery. I repudiate and disobey as wholly illegal and unjust. The Constitution as expounded by Mr. Spooner and Gerrit Smith I am ready to support, such an application being in harmony with the law of unchanging rights. But the men to whom you refer as the Massachusetts Society who are non voters, in this are as honest and true as Gerrit Smith in his position: and they are doing more to overthrow slavery than the whole army of political abolitionists. Your spasmodic electioneerers do nothing of abiding importance for the cause of impartial and universal liberty. Any imputation therefore upon their motives, any sneer at their principles is not only in bad taste but is criminal folly in the editor or the lecturer who calls himself an abolitionist. There is the most perfect harmony in the efforts made by Wm. Lloyd Garrison and Gerrit Smith. Each leases his life on the Gospel principle which enjoins no compromise with wrong. So, throughout the anti-slavery host, there ought to be perfect harmony of effort, on the only tenable ground, i.e., "no compromise with oppression," for the deliverance of the enslaved. To this grand work and in this uncompromising spirit I give myself with all joy. May the true reforming spirit guide all who loves the universal Father and his one family in the preservation of the anti-slavery cause. You will oblige me by inserting this letter in your paper. "Be sure you are right and then go ahead," and may you accomplish a great success, is the earnest wish of

Your brother,


Dec. 21st, 1852.


Foster, Daniel




Daniel Foster to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Paper, 31 December 1852. Defends himself and Garrisonians against criticism.


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