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Andrew B. Stater to Frederick Douglass, April 2, 1853



FRED'CK DOUGLASS: ESQ:—For the last two
or three years, there has been a great deal
said, by the American people, concerning
the future prospects, and disposition of the
colored American people. One can seldom
listen for five minutes at a time to a group,
even of two or three, without hearing some-
thing either immediately or remotely con-
cerning the "colored people." Surely, sir, we
must be a very important part of the Amer-
ican people.

No great marvel that we enter so largely
into all of their business calculations, whether
civil, political, or religious. No great marvel
that there is so much difficulty with them as
to how they shall dispose of us, where we
may go, where we may not, where we shall
stay, where we shall not, &c. Now, every
one talks upon this subject; but they are di-
vided into several classes. One class is for
colonizing with the colored man's consent;
another for colonizing whether or no; another
for virtually making all slaves; others again,
if we step both feet over a certain line, and
let them remain here. Well, I do not recol-
lect, whether it is ten minutes, or
ten days—neither does it matter so much, one is just as
consistent as the other; however if we do so
intrude, why then they will sell us for slaves.
Well, there is one consistent thing in that-
when so sold, one half of the money goes to
the "Charity Fund." Now that comports well
with pro-slavery charity; for all their charity
money is wrung out of a sable skin.

And then there is another class, who say, let
us make men of them on the spot. And there
is another class still, very still, sometimes I
think almost guiltily still; yet I suppose that
stillness is the consequence of their having
had their tongues as well as their limbs
chained so long, that stillness has become
second nature. But even they begin to talk;
yes they began to rattle their chains. But
who is this latter class, and what are their
plans? Why they are our noble selves; and
our plan is to make men of ourselves; but
where? Why, on the spot, on the land that
gave us birth—in our own native country;
true, the country of the forced adoption of
our ancestors; hence the native country of
their descendants, without nationalizing,
without let or hinderance. But now for the
test—now for the trial—and are we prepared for it?

Well, let us see, that is right; it is well to
count the cost; and what is it? why, only a
little self-denial for the present.

Sir, I make the broad assertion that it is
unnecessary for us to be out of employ six
days in the year. With employment we can
have money; with money we can do what
we please.

Now, sir, take, for instance, a first of Au-
gust celebration. It is rare that you see an
assemblage of less than five hundred. Then,
including the out-fit, horses, carriages, enter-
tainment, loss of the day; all, I will put it
at two dollars a piece, although we all know
that is not half; still, we will call it one
thousand dollars; what do we do with that?
Why, we say that we celebrate British eman-
cipation in the East India Islands. But, in
fact, in most cases, we give our enemies a
regularly built benefit, and they look upon it
as such.


Now, if in the stead of these costly cele-
brations—(well, if it could be done consist-
ently)—if instead of writing with those who
can count their thousands, in dress and liv-
ing—if instead of standing at the corners
of the streets, or at the grocery doors—if in-
stead of, as has been proposed, to get work-
shops with white superintendents, who would
go off with all the honor and profit, but none
of the labor—and instead only working a
short time for some of the occasions, we save
our money, dress and live like other poor
people. Labor all the time, (in health, of
course.) Take this thousand dollars—build
good, substantial, large and commodious
work-shops, with perfectly competent colored
superintendents, (what, reader, did you start
at competent colored
superintendents?—Don't be alarmed, there is plenty of them to
be had.) Open shops for the admittance of
colored youths, where they can learn all the
useful trades, and shortly become useful
members of society; that it may no longer
be necessary for the sake of having our sons
and daughters earn something to become
cooks, waiters, barbers, &c. No, if the
whites, in their retrograde motion, see fit to
drive us out of the menial offices that we
have so long and so passively filled, let us
in our progress manfully step forward and
fill the places they have so long and so proud-
ly held. These shops need not necessarily
be either in cities or villages, but in good
farming districts, where land is compara-
tively cheap; and if 10, 20, or 30 acres were
attached thereto, all the better for agricul-
tural training. We might have a dozen be-
tween Buffalo and New York; but with five,
under good management, with sobriety and
industry, we might lay a foundation that
would eventulate in all the rights of citizen-
ship, usefulness, respectability, wealth. Our
women can go into a similar operation by
similar self-denial and preserverance.

Now, let us at a proper time and place,
hold a State Convention. Let each locality
appoint and send suitable delegates; meet
and consult within the free united
business-like manner, and see if we cannot hit upon
some plan to stop the mouths of our de-
nouncers, and gain respectability for our-
selves—elevation for coming generaions.

With great respect, I am with you for the
abolition of slavery, generally; for the ele-
vation of Northern colored freemen particu-



Stater, Andrew B.




Andrew B. Stater to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 8 April 1853. Advocates using money raised from West Indian Emancipation celebrations to open workshops where blacks can teach and train.


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