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Communipaw [James McCune Smith] to Frederick Douglass, September 30, 1853


For Frederick Douglass' Paper

Heads of the Colored People—No. IX.


We have Bourbons among us! Mr. Put-
nam you are answered; Dr. Hawkes and
Eleanor Williams, stand aside, clear the——kitchen, for our Bourbons, like one of your-
selves, are colored people! Our proofs are
not wrapped up in wig-wams, and Prince de
Joinville and woodcut resemblances—no sir!
Mr. Putnam we address not Lewis II, (at
this time)—our proofs are direct and circum-

About the year 1775, among the officers of
a gallant French regiment, stationed at the
cape (now Cape Haytien in St. Domingo),
was the Counte Charles D'Artois, afterwards
Charles of France. This young prince
formed a liasson with a beautiful quadroon,
and M. Benjamin D'Artois was the conse-
quence. The royal blood of France mingled
with the African current.

This Monsr. Ben., as he is called, is now
walking before my door, the "very spit" of
Charles the tenth, in every [?]ment of his
countenance. Charles, it will be recollected,
had not the Bourbon features so well marked
in some of his brothers; but—and here
Walker on Intermarriages comes into Court
—the children of Monsr. Ben are purely,
strictly and undeniably Bourbon in every
feature, in figure, in carriage, and in charac-

Monsr. Ben is a jeweller, by trade, is a
quiet, easy old gentleman, and has bored the
ears of all the pretty France-African girls in
our city during the last half century. He
witnessed, and describes vividly, the death
by torture of Vincent Oje, the apostle and
martyr of Haytian liberty. Monsr. Ben
married after his emigration to New York
and some some five sons and [three daughters?].

[Illegible] says "to-day is a king in dis-
guise. Tom Benjamin, or as he signs his
name, T. Benjamin D'Artois, the grandon of
a King of France, stands some five feet six
in height, is tremendously stout, and walks
with a curvilinear movement of his arms—caused by a twenty years' practice in freez-
ing ice cream! Ye people of Gotham! Ye
who from 1815 to 1845, were wont to visit
Cantoit's garden in Broadway, between
Franklin and Leonard Streets—who do you
think, made that exquisite ice-cream? Gen-
tlemen and ladies, it was a BOURBON! Only
think of it; was not Emerson right? How
many sipped that cream in utter ignorance
of the stupendous fact, that the royal blood
of France, the royal intellect of France, and
what is still better, the perspiration-Royal


of France was actually distilled, or exerted,
in preparing it? It is matter of profound
reflection for our times and our country, in
view of our glorious institutions and mani-
fest destiny, that perhaps some American
citizens have gone down to their graves igno-
rant of the fact that the exquisite ice-cream
they enjoyed at Cantoit's was made by a

It may be objected, Mr. Editor, that my
Bourbons are of the [fitz?] lineage; that the
[?] sinister (anglice "over the left") sullies
their escutcheon. Surely, there, Dr. Hawkes;
stop a moment, Mr. Putnam. Monsr. Ben
was born in Hayti, and the Haytian law
makes all children born to a man his legiti-
mate heirs, whether in wedlock or out of wed-
lock. So we have Bourbons among us, thou
great light of Episcopacy.

Talking of Episcopacy brings to mind the
cheering fact, that the labors of John Jay
have triumphed in gaining the admission of


into the Union of the Diocess of New York!

In 1843 or 4, the first attempt was made
in this matter; it required two years hard
work, to obtain the least notice of the con-
vention. In 1845, memorable for the trial
of Bishop Anderdonk, and for the attempt at
resisting his sentence made in the Diocesan
convention—a determined effort was made to
get St. Philip's admitted, as she was known
to be of the Bishop's party. By dint of a
sharp, earnest letter from the Secretary of
the Vestry, addressed to the Bishop, the cre-
dentials of St. Philip's were endorsed by the
standing committee of the Diocess. And
this curious thing occurred; Mr. Jay, and his
father, Judge Jay, of the Anti-Bishop party,
actually struggled to gain admission for this
church which would vote against them, while
the Bishop's party were too cowardly to vote
in their own supporters. In 1846, I believe,
the matter again came up, and was dropped
by a vote in which the majority of the cler-
gy voted indirectly for and of the laity
against the admission of St. Philips. In the
following year, the matter came up again,
and was submitted to a committee, from
which the Hon. John C. Spencer wrote a re-
port against, and Rev. Evan Johnson in fa-
vor of the admission. In the report of Mr.
Spencer, it was stated, that the Rev. Peter
Williams, the founder and Rector of St.
Philips, had been ordained with the special
pledge that he would never seek admission
into the Diocesan convention. Next year,
1848, the Vestry of St. Philip's published a
complete confutation of Mr. Spencer's state-
ment; and renewed their application; and
have renewed it each year since.


The success at this time is mainly owing to
the fact, that John C. Spencer, who had
hitherto dodged and manoeuvred so as to
keep St. Philip's out, was this year kept out
himself, and no other layman had the cour-
age to face John Jay's artillery. The Bishop
is understood to have favored the admission,
which shows him true to his English birth
and education. There were present, also,
several distinguished English clergymen, and
the convention quailed at the thought of
making them witnesses to a renewal of their
uncatholic exclusiveness.

The delegates from St. Philip's are Peter
Ray, senior warden, superintendent of Loni-
lard's immense tobacco factory, Philip A.
White, chemist and apothecary, and Henry
Scott, merchant—all worthy, intelligent and
respectable gentlemen. I have not learned
whether any of them took their seats.

There is much that is hopeful in this affair;
and I trust that the Vestry of St. Philip's
will pass a vote of thanks to Mr. Jay: And I
hope also that they will give a call to the Rev.
Alexander Crummell, and offer him twelve
hundred dollars a year; the church is rich
enough to pay this salary; and there are so
few of such salaries in the gift of colored
people, and so few colored men of his stamp
to bestow them upon, that it seems a demand
of the times that they shall make this call.


NEW YORK, Sept. 30, 1853.


Communipaw [James McCune Smith]




Communipaw [James McCune Smith] to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 7 October 1853. Comments on the mingling of royal Bourbon (French) blood with African, due to intermarriage among New York City blacks; reports St. Philip’s Church admitted to the New York Diocese with help from John Jay.


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