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A Colored Canadian to Frederick Douglass, June 15, 1853


TORONTO, June 15th, 1853.

MR. EDITOR:—If it were ever necessary
for a persecuted, proscribed, and oppressed
people to meet by delegation, or otherwise,
to devise and take measures for the amelio-
ration of their condition, and to thwart the
unholy purposes, and the cruel machinations
of their unreasonable and unchristian oppo-
nents, that time has most clearly come, for
the down-trodden colored man of the United
States. And I rejoice to perceive that though,
in your country, the political heavens wear
for you a lowering and ominous aspect, and
your popular religion can afford you, as
a people, not a single ray of hope; yet
there are unmistakable indications that the
God in whom we trust has not forgotten us;
that He is watching, with unslumbering vig-
ilance, over our interests and happiness, and
purposes, before long to make bare His arm
in behalf of a people who [illegible]ing and a byword, and shamefully trampled
in the dust, for no other reason than for
wearing the physical exterior given them by
Infinite Wisdom and Benevolence. When
oppressors take counsel together against the
Lord and His people, for the extraordinary
cause indicated, and, in their impulsive
blindness, adopt measures which inevitably
lead to the very result they deprecate, and
which it was their purpose to avert; when
they can enact unjust and sanguinary laws
in flagrant violation of those of the great
Eternal, impiously declaring that the be-
hests of the former are of paramount obli-
gation to those of the latter, which they
contemptuously treat as a nullity; when, in
addition to this, the predominant religion of
the day can put its broad seal of approbation
upon the deed, and the godless multitude, in
their national capacity, can heartily ejacu-
late, from one end of the union to the other,
loud and heaven-defiant "amen!"—then, Sir,
it is as clear as the sun in the heavens, that
such a nation has about consummated its na-
tional iniquity, and have little to expect but
the retributive judgments of "the Most
High," who "ruleth in the kingdom of men,
and giveth it to whomsoever He will."—"Shall I not visit for these things, saith the
Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on
such a nation as this?" The great question
which slaveholders, and their political reli-
gious, and reverend abettors are now pro-
pounding with so much anxiety, is not
when shall we "cease to do evil, and learn
to do well," in reference to the unrighteous
and cruel system of United States slavery,
and oppression of the colored race; but how


shall we rid ourselves of (those annoying ev-
idences of our wickedness and unfitness for
the kingdom of God) the free blacks? If
these men did not "love darkness rather
than light;" if they had not agreed to re-
nounce the fundamental principles of their
own government, and to practically repudi-
ate the benevolent inculcations of true,
primitive Christianity, we might tell them
that the question which they so anxiously
propound, was most unequivocally answered
by our Lord, eighteen hundred years ago:
"All things whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do ye even so to them."
But this divine and all-comprehensive rule
being no longer of any authority with them,
because uncompromisingly opposed to their
prejudices, their pride, and unholy purposes,
I regard them as incorriglible, and beyond
the reach of argument. I speak thus
strongly, because it is manifest that the sine
qua non to their being Christians depends
upon a physical impossibility: "Can the
Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his
spots?" When we can bring about such a
desideratum, then, and then only, according
to present indications, may we hope to be
treated as men by our otherwise irreconcila-
ble opponents. Sir, it will avail but little
with the unprincipled enemies with whom
you have to contend, to furnish statistics of
the improvement, and constantly improving
condition of the colored race in the United
States. These evidences of progress, so
creditable to us as a people, but give a re-
newed and powerful impetus to the benevo-
lent impulses of our colonization friends,
who cannot brook such improvement, unless
it be three thousand miles out of their
sight. Nevertheless, let the statistics be
given, that the world may be disabused in re-
gard to our advancement in all that consti-
tutes the true dignity of humanity; nor
should we for a moment relax our efforts in
making every desirable possible improve-
ment, because our oppressors will not, or
cannot appreciate in us that which consti-
tutes the well-being and glory of all other
people. In making these remarks, I have
before the eye of my mind your approaching
National Convention. Judging from the
signs of the times, as they bear upon our
condition and prospects; judging from the
character, ability, and position of the men
who have signed the "Call," I anticipate the
adoption of principles and measures that
cannot fail to tell upon the destinies of our
people in the American Union. When I
consider that the position which self-re-
spect, and a deep sense of your indefeasible
rights will oblige you to assume, will be in
direct antagonism to the public sentiment of


a nation, nay, one of the most powerful na-
tions upon the face of the globe, I can read-
ily perceive that in the approaching contest
you are doomed to inevitable defeat, and that
all your efforts at self-evaluation, unaided and
unblessed by the God of the oppressed, will be
fruitless, and terminate in "vexation of
spirit." But let the Convention have so pro-
found a sense of their comparative weak-
ness, in view of the fearful array against
them, as will cause them most earnestly to
invoke, and most implicitly to rely upon the
guidance, the favor, and blessing of the Al-
mightly; let them, in addition, recommend
the immediate and united adoption of such a
course upon the part of our people upon
this continent, and we shall be to our ene-
mies "as terrible as an army with banners;"
then shall our oppressors see their Pharaoh-like policy baffled; then shall the confusion of
Babel perplex and distract their counsels,
and they be taught to realize, in a way that
they have not yet seen or anticipated, that
"the Lord God omnipotent reigneth;" that,
in the language of Mr. Jefferson, the Al-
mighty has no attribute that can take sides
with them in such a contest. I have no hes-
itation in saying, that the people who can rid-
icule the position we have assumed, are un-
worthy of freedom; they deserve to be in
chains. But would our people, if properly
instructed and directed by their spiritual
overseers, treat with contempt the course we
recommend? Far from it! we know them
too well; no people in the world would more
readily and heartily respond to the senti-
ments expressed, as to the means of deliver-
ance, than they. Sir, they are now ripe for
the proposition. The proscriptive and des-
potic course which the two great political
parties of the United States have pursued in
reference to the colored population; the ut-
ter refusal of the American Church to treat
their colored countrymen as men and breth-
ren; the unholy alliance of Church and
State for the professedly benevolent, but
really cruel purpose of expatriating the Free
Colored People from the land of their birth;
these things, Sir, have left our people little
to hope, but in a special interposition of Di-
vine Providence in its behalf. It may be
well that they have approached such a crisis.
Perhaps they are to be taught practically,
that "man's extremity is God's opportunity."



Colored Canadian, A




A Colored Canadian to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 24 June 1853. Hopes for the future of blacks in America.


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Frederick Douglass' Paper



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Frederick Douglass' Paper