Skip to main content

An Abolitionist in the South to Frederick Douglass, August 18, 1853


BATON ROUGE, LA., August 18th, 1853.

MR. EDITOR:—As you probably have but
few correspondents in this section of our
free and happy Union, I flatter myself you
will not refuse a few lines from me, if only
for variety. I have been travelling South
for several months, and stay a day or two in
this city, as the Yellow Fever will not allow
me to remain in New Orleans longer. The
most important object of my attention is Sla-
very. I have been so often told by Southern-
ers visiting the North that their most con-
clusive argument was requesting us "rabid
abolitionists" to go south and see for ourselves
the happiness and contentment in which the
slaves live. I am now south. I see slavery as
it is; yet I am more opposed to it than ever.
I see the condition of the slave, yet I see
nothing to recommend Slavery to me as a
desirable thing. Some slaves are so ignor-
ant and bigoted by their very degradation,
that they seem perfectly contented; but it is
not the nature of the majority to submit to
oppression, nor is it the nature of any to feel
contented in Slavery. I attribute some few
of their number being contented, because
it is a custom, and also to their education!

If it is true that the slaves here are so
contented and happy, why is it that so many
are escaping at every opportunity? Why so
much precaution on the part of the slave-
holder to prevent the slaves in this neighbor-
hood from congregating together?

In this vicinity more slaves are running
away than ever was known before the
"Fugitive Law" was passed.

Your readers probably all know the state
of "public opinion" here. If a man speaks
of "Liberty," or the "Declaration of Inde-
pendance," he is taken for an "abolitionist."
An instance—a few evenings since, while read-
ing "Curran's speech on Rowan's trial," a
young man entered my room and, hearing a
sentence I had just read aloud, asked "if that
was one of Fred Douglass d—d abolition
speeches." So you perceive, Mr. Editor, you
are known even here.

If you are not tired of this scribbling, I
will try again some time.

Yours truly,



An Abolitionist in the South




An Abolitionist in the South to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 26 August 1853. Refutes the popular opinion held by slaveholders that slaves are content to be in bondage.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper



Publication Status



Frederick Douglass' Paper