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Charlotte K—— to Frederick Douglass, February 24, 1854


For Frederick Douglass' Paper.


Feb. 24th, 1854.

MR. EDITOR:—We are pleasantly situated
on the banks of the Monongahela, (so dear
to my old friend, Mr. Cornish!) with the Sus-
pension Bridge and its life and beauty direct-
ly before us. My long silence is due to one
of those occurrences in married life, that
can only be alluded to in Amerian news-
papers, although duly recorded in the free
atmosphere of English Journals—an occur-
ence which has made Mr. K—— the hap-
piest of men, as he sits there clumsily, but
tenderly holding the result, while my pale,
slender fingers indite this note to an old
friend in Providence (as he thinks, dear

I perceive that my letter, on Odd-Fellow-
ship, has attracted attention from several of
the Order, and that one gentleman throws
out a doubt concerning my sex, whilst an-
other—Philo—with better manners, is con-
tent with denying that my husband ever be-
longed to the Grand Patriarchal Council!
In reply to the first, permit me to say, that
he may enquire of the second, his dearest
friend; and in reply to the second, I would
respectfully enquire whether he ever knew
my first husband to wear a collar on a plat-
form, or a shawl at the clambake, in New York,
or Providence, or Fall River?

But, to return to Odd-Fellowship. I said
that it destroyed the New York Literary
Societies: this has not been denied. What
did it substitute? Nothing but Anniversa-
ries, consisting mainly of Balls and Suppers.
I well remember the first of these. It was
a perfect jam. Two of the dear "brothers"
stood at the head of the stairs, and two of
the same at the foot; the printed tickets of
admission were soon exhausted; but Friend-
ship, Love and Truth, were up to the occa-
sion, and the same tickets were passed up
and down several times during the night,
netting two dollars each ticket to Friendship,
Love and Truth, who, glorious principles!
never made any returns to the Lodge Treasu-
ry. Those balls were kept up, until, finally,
in the Hamilton Lodge, the funds of the
Lodge—sacredly set apart to aid the sick and
bury the dead,—were actually drawn upon
to make up the deficiency—the ball did'nt


Some of the brethren were very loud in
praise of the Order, as a reconciler among
estranged friends; other boasted its fame as
an instrument which made men pay the
debts which they owed the brethren. More
deadly and irreconcilable hatred was never
fermented in New York City among its lead-
ing colored men, by any organization or
other cause than grew out of this very Odd-
Fellowship. Hatreds which only ceased,
when the parties left the Order, and returned
to their natural impluses. And I am greatly
mistaken, if, both Philo and Cosmopolite, can-
not now look back with pain, at precious op-
portunities wasted in the Lodge Room, op-
portunities in which their talents and ener-
gies were meretriciously divested from the
real advancement of their brethren. Past, or
rather Present Grand Master Gordon, may
assent, as he does, that this Order has done
a great good in Philadelphia. If so, it must
have been on the Homeopathic principle—like
cures like—for that city has been distinguish-
ed, from time immemorial for the multitude
of feuds and small hatreds among its color-
ed population; it would seem, as if the tran-
quil surface of Quakerdom, like other still
waters, had not one, but many —brethren
at the bottom of it—and colored brethren at
that! If Odd-Fellowship, like some potent
acid has neutralized this state of things, I
wish Brother Gordon, joy of the improve-
ment; late reports state that the extremes of
colored society have recently met and min-
gled in that city—that Robert Purvis and
David Roe actually gave each other the hug
fraternal; did Odd-Fellowship do this?

But (sh—sh—sh—go to sleep, baby bunting
—there—sh) the friendship and love of the
Order of Odd Fellowship, are best illustrat-
ed by the following facts, which I publicly
dare anyone to gainesay: In 1843, Mr Peter
Ogden, by obtaining for his colored brethren
in the United States, the first dispensation,
and the sole right to grant of all others of the
Grand-United-Order of Odd-Fellows in
America, earned for himself the title of the
Father of the Order in America. Within a
year or two, he was so recognized, and at one
of the processions, I saw a banner, of costly
silk, in which his likeness was elaborately
painted. In 1842 or '3, this same Mr. Peter
Ogden, sickened, in the City of New York,
at a house within five hundred yards of the
daily walks of a hundred of "the brethren"
—not one of them visited him to offer a cup
of water to his parched lips; in the same
place, in a few weeks, and of the same ill-
ness, he died, and not a "brother" of the
Order was found to perform the last sad de-
cencies for his body, or follow him to his
grave! His sickness and death was well
known to them. But he had not paid his dues
in the Lodge to which he belonged; and
therefore Friendship, love and Truth knew
him no longer.

Should not hatred, hypocrisy, and humbug!
be smitten on the banners of such an Order?
Have Philo or Cosmopolite anything more to
say to

Yours most truly,



K, Charlotte




Charlotte K—— to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 3 March 1854. Defends her position that the Odd-Fellowship destroyed the New York literary societies by substituting balls and suppers for lectures.


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