Skip to main content

C. C. Foote to Frederick Douglass, April 14, 1853


The Refugees' Home Society.

MR. DOUGLASS:—I am sure that your interest in the three classes of colored people (the slaves of the South, the free of the North, and the fugitives in Canada) will secure a careful hearing for whatever affects the welfare of either of these classes. The Refugees' Home Society affects all these classes. The most violent assaults have been made upon me, publicly and privately, by slaveholders and friends of slavery, for being a party in the upbuilding of a scheme yet to become an irresistable temptation for slaves to escape from their unrequitted toils, to become participators of its benefits. And although our Society contemplated no such results in its organization, I have never objected to these haters of freedom enjoying the full benefit of their alarm. The designs of our Society are known and discussed south of Mason & Dixon's line; and the fame thereof is yet to reach the ear of many a forlorn bondman.

And what are the prospects of the colored people in the North? For the past two years my whole time has been spent in listening to the views of all classes of people, and in declaring my own, from the lakes to the ocean, from Maine to Virginia, concerning the colored people of this country. My opportunities have been unsurpassed, and my observation thorough; and this is "the conclusion of the whole matter." A sentiment, a feeling, a is now in a formative state, developing itself with certain and accelerated growth, that has for its object : I am giving you only conclusions, and not the processes to their arrival. It will not be traveling far out of the record, to say that "UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" comes in for a large share in the growth of this sentiment.

Now, another conclusion is equally clear.—Correlated to this purpose of expatriation, (as opposites are correlated,) growing with its growth and strengthening with its strength, is a sentiment, a feeling, a , on the part of the colored people, . But the white man's star of inevitable destiny is in the descendant—and the colored man must go somewhere. Do you ask where? The answer is at hand—GO TO CANADA. Today, Canada West is adequate to the reception of half a million of these victims of cast, were they provided with the means of one year's restorance. The climate they can endure; the soil is productive; the government is protective and inviting. To my vision, the hope of a peaceful abolition of slavery is dimmed by every rising sun. Tell me not of the election of a Gerrit Smith to Congress, while our foes are everywhere multiplying their triumph. And yet the days of slavery will have an end. And if earth itself shall outlive that grand catastophe, the free colored people of the North shall act a part in the achievement of the final result. Then let them remain near the scene of action. I am giving you but a faint outline of a volumn that lies in my mind.

Turn now to the scores, and hundreds, and thousands fleeing from a land of all untenable woes and darkness, with anxiety forced to a conjuring flame, by alternate hopes and fears of success. Their numbers are rapidly increasing. has a large share in this also. Now, how vastly desirable that these people, on their arrival upon the blessed shores whose very atmosphere dissolves their chains and makes them men, should be
surrounded by the greatest facilities for their civilization, education and Christianization coming up all dripping and fetid from the infernal verges of being totally Satanized, where night, dingy and dolorous, broods without day, O, how strong does their condition plead for our sympathy and care! Gerrit Smith has given thousands of homes to free colored people, most of whom were already the possessors of many comforts. Now, has a mortal man yet presumed to disparage the blessedness of that deed, by affirming that the receivers no such gift? Look now at the Refugees' Home Society. With open arms and a loving heart, it meets the long abused and poor bondman at the very gates of deliverance—walks with him a few miles, and bids him lift up his eyes and behold the land! Now, for the first time, you shall have a . Five of these acres we —if in three years you shall clear and cultivate them. Twenty more we leave by your side. Nine years we give you to pay for these, charging you no interest. One half the money received from you shall be employed to obtain homes for your brothers. The other half shall build for you and for them school-houses, and furnish them with teachers who shall devote their lives to the education and Christianization of your chidren and yourself.

Now, tell me, my friend, is not this helper a messenger sent from God? I believe it as truly as I believe there is a God. What do these people need more, other, or different from this? Let this work be carried out, and what can you desire more? And yet, for more than a year we have been assailed by the most deadly maligning and hate.—A few persons in Canada seem to have bound themselves by an oath, to sleep not, nor rest till we are dead. A more unprovoked, undeserved, unjustifiable, unreasonable assault I have never known. All the results are most upon our success. You mistook, therefore, in saying, "this matter will settle itself in Canada." It will be settled of Canada. Destroy public confidence in our work, and long years will elapse ere another effort will be made for the elevation of these people. The miscarriages of former years, in Canada, as well as present opposition, affect our success much. Add our work to these miscarriages by crippling our efforts through false reports, and you have set us aside, to make room for somebody else, but to make room for . When I reflect that most of the opposition to our Society has been occasioned and might have been prevented by a single move in Canada, I confess that my grief and indignation are very great. I have spent nearly two years of ceaseless toil in behalf of these people, and am now about to return to my own people in Michigan, leaving the prosecution of this work in other hands. I know of none whose councils are wiser, or whose words will be more effectual than Messrs. Whipple and Tappan. They have, therefore, at my request, furnished me for publication, the letters of which I send you copies. Mr. John Scoble has been of much service to our Society; and his coming among us will be a most valuable acquisition to Canada and to this country.

Fraternally yours,


NEW YORK, April 14, 1853.



Foote, Charles C.




C. C. Foote to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 22 April 1853. Recommends that free blacks consider moving to Canada West as an alternative to African colonization.


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


Frederick Douglass' Paper



Publication Status



Frederick Douglass' Paper