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Frederick Douglass Gerrit Smith, August 31, 1856



Rochester[, N.Y.] 31 Aug[ust] 1856. HON: GERRIT SMITH: My DEAR FRIEND I have not yet received your letter1Douglass published a letter that Gerrit Smith wrote to William Goodell on 15 August 1856, in which Smith attacked Edward C. Delevan for announcing his intention to vote for the American party ticket candidates, Millard Fillmore and Andrew Jackson Donelson. Delevan justified his action by hoping that the nativists would more strongly support the temperance cause than Republicans would. FDP, 5 September 1856. to Mr Delevan2Born in Westchester County, New York, Edward Cornelius Delavan (1793-1871) was one of the nation’s best-known temperance advocates. In the 1810s and 1820s, he amassed a great fortune by importing wine from Europe and speculating in real estate in the Albany, New York, area. He came to recognize the evils of alcohol and helped found the New York State Temperance Society in 1829. Six years later, Delavan became one of the original officers of the American Temperance Union and thereafter used the bulk of his fortune to advance its work. ACAB, 2:134; NCAB, 11:207; DAB, 5:221.—except as it appeared in the the Albany Evening Journal.3Thurlow Weed founded the Albany Evening Journal in 1830 and remained its editor and guiding force until his retirement in 1861. Originally using its pages to support the Anti-Mason party, Weed later shifted its editorial support to the Whig party and, specifically, William Seward. The editorials in its pages opposed the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and the newspaper thus became known for its antislavery position. Frederic Hudson, Journalism in the United States, from 1690 to 1872 (New York, 1873), 397-400, 577. You have not paid me the usual complement of Sending me an advance copy of your letter in this inStance—though you have so favored Some of my neighbors—I have, however got your letter and Shall publish it—unless you otherwise wish. My Dear Sir: You must not Strike my humble name from your list of those to whom you usually Send your thoughts. You are not likely to write anything, or to Speak anything which I Shall not gladly lay before my readers. I cannot allow mySelf to think that the failure to Send me your delevan letter was intended as a rebuke to me for my Support of Fremont4John Charles Frémont (1813-90), the son of a French émigré schoolteacher and a mother descended from Virginia planters, was born in Savannah, Georgia, and educated at Charleston College. Frémont worked as an explorer and a topographer, a career advanced greatly by his marriage to Jessie Benton, the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, until he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the army in 1837. In the 1840s he gained national fame for commanding several mapping expeditions of the Rocky Mountains. On one of them, Frémont assumed a leading role in the Bear Flag revolt in California. When the Mexican War broke out, Frémont clashed with higher-ranking military officers in California and was court-martialed. After leaving the army, Frémont continued his western explorations and briefly served as one of California’s first U.S. senators (1850-51). Defeated for reelection as an antislavery candidate, he led another cross-continent expedition in 1853 and in 1855 moved to New York City. Opposed to both the extension of slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law, Frémont was the presidential nominee of the 1856 Republican convention and carried eleven states in a contest against the Democratic nominee, James Buchanan. At the outbreak of Civil War, Lincoln appointed Frémont major general in command of the Department of the West. On 30 August 1861, Frémont issued a proclamation emancipating the slaves of rebel Missourians, which Lincoln quickly revoked. Replaced in this western command, Frémont unsuccessfully battled Thomas (“Stonewall”) Jackson in the latter’s Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862. A Cleveland convention of antislavery radicals seeking an alternative to Lincoln nominated Frémont for president in 1864, but the candidate withdrew when approached by the Lincoln administration. After the Civil War, Frémont lost his fortune in failed railroad promotion schemes and played only a minor role in Republican politics. Ferol Egan, Frémont: Explorer for a Restless Nation (Garden City, N.Y, 1977); Alice Eyre, The Famous Frémonts and Their America (Santa Ana, Calif.], 1948), 17-22, 41-49, 274-80, 295-306; Allan Nevins, Frémont: Pathmarker of the West, 2 vols. 1955; New York, 1961); ACAB, 2:545-48, DAB, 7:19-23.—and yet it may be So—TI should not complain if Such it Should prove, though I Should deeply regret it. I have done what Seemed to me right & proper to be done in this crises—and Can afford to be calm under the cenSure of those who cannot approve my course. I support Fremont as the best thing I can do now.—but without loosing Sight of the great doctrines and measures, 1nSeparable from your great name and character. I am as ever Yours Most Truly FREDERICK DOUGLASS—

ALS: Gerrit Smith Papers, NSyU.



Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895


August 31, 1856


Yale University Press 2018



Publication Status