Skip to main content

Frederick Douglass George Barrell Cheever, April 5, 1862


FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO GEORGE BARRELL CHEEVER1Born in Maine and educated at Bowdoin College and Andover Theological Seminary, George Barrell Cheever (1807-90) held a series of prominent editorial and ministerial posts in the Congregational Church, most significantly the pastorate of New York City’s Church of the Pilgrims (1846-67). Besides his religious activities, he was active in the temperance and abolitionist movements. In the late 1850s, Cheever and his younger brother, Henry, another Congregationalist minister, were the leading figures in the Church Anti-Slavery Society, which attempted to coordinate abolitionist activities in evangelical denominations. During the early years of the Civil War, Cheever vociferously criticized the Lincoln administration for not embracing immediate abolition. McKivigan, War against Proslavery Religion, 137-41; ACAB, 1:597; DAB, 4:48-49.

Rochester[, N.Y.] 5 April 1862.
Let me thank you very Sincerely for your note2Cheever’s letter to Douglass has not survived. informing me that the five dolls handed me a week[]ago by our friend Miss Anthony3Susan B. Anthony. was from Mrs Janet Berwick,4Mrs. Janet Ormond Borwick (c. 1812—?) was the wife of the Reverend William Broadfoot Borwick (1808-70), pastor of the Bell Street United Presbyterian Church in Dundee from 1835 to 1866. She was active in the Dundee Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society for many years, serving as secretary and treasurer. In 1855 she was singled out by Samuel Ringgold Ward for her “indefatigable...promotion” of the anti-slavery movement. 1851 Scotland Census, Angus, Dundee, 4; William Peace, Peace’s Orkney and Shetland Almanac and County Directory for 1888 (Kirkwell, Scot., 1887), 36; Ward, Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro, 231. the president of the Dundee AntiSlavery Society5Douglass failed to acknowledge receipt of this contribution in his erratically published lists of contributors in Douglass’ Monthly. The Dundee Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Association contributed regularly to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, other abolitionist organizations, and settlements of free blacks in Canada. BFASR, (July 1860); R. J. M. Blackett, Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (Baton Rouge, La., 2001), 107; Richard William Vaudry, The Free Church in Victorian Canada, 1844-61 (Waterloo, Ont., 1989), 110 I wish also to thank you for your earnest words of friendship and counsel.


Your Services to the cause of my enslaved people—have made your life and Labors very precious in my eyes. I follow you every where with devout gratitude—that one So able, clear Sighted, brave & uncompromising Should rise up in these latter times of trial—to Speak the true word without any admixture of the Spureous doctrines of expediency—which have cheated and deceived Some of our best hearted advocates of Emancipation. The blessings of at least, one of those doomed by Slavery to perish will follow you evermore. I am most happy to find that at last, by the potency of truth, and the valour of principle you have been able to compel this nation to hear your words: But I will not trespass.
Yours Very truly:


ALS: Cheever Family Papers, MWA.


Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895




Yale University Press 2018



Publication Status