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Ethiop [William J. Wilson] to Frederick Douglass, April 2, 1853


From our Brooklyn Correspondent.

DEAR DOUGLASS:—We are not so barren
for news in and about Gotham, as I lack op-
portunity for catering it. Interesting month-
ly meetings, for prayer for the enslaved, are
held in the Siloam P. Church—Rev. Mr.
Freeman's, Brooklyn. The one of last Sab-
bath evening was heightened in the interest
by the presence of, and a speech from John
Scoble of England. He also gave a highly
important lecture on Wednesday evening, in
the African Methodist Church on High St.,
which, I hope, will be not only long remem-
bered, but well digested by the needy audi-
ence who heard it. He was accompanied by
the Rev. C. C. Foote of the Canada Mission.

The Black Swan has sung in Gotham—the
Metropolitan Hall was the place; but as
birds of the same plumage was not permit-
ted to flock thither, Ethiop did not hear her.
She will repeat it, I understand, in a place
where black birds may come and listen, too;
so, my dear sir, you shall have the benefit of
my listenings, as I hope to look in.

Dr. Cox of Rusherban, near Brooklyn, has
written a book over which all Christendom is
laughing. It possesses all the peculiarities
and eccentricities of the Doctor—a mass of
confused order which every body will read
despite of their resibility. Far better busi-
ness, however, for the Doctor this, than writ-
ing Fugitive Slave Law sermons up at Rus-
erban, near Brooklyn.

Wm. H. Harned, for many years one of the
Secretaries in the Anti-Slavery Office, has va-
cated his place, and another young white
man has been installed in his stead. What
a pity it is that the black cannot occasionally
get a sup or two of the anti-slavery pap that
is laddled out in this city! Why is
this?—Is it incompetency on the
one part—prejudice
on the other, or what? Or is the hungry
white crowd so large that the black specks
pass unobserved by the chiefs in command?

It is a little curious to note that the Amer-
ican and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society—the
same, I believe, that employed Mr.
Harned—was the source from which it was contem-
plated to send a colored agent to Europe,
but has since withdrawn its resolve. I should
have stated that the Rev. Amos G. Beeman,
and not Rev. S. R. Ward, was the individual
selected, though Mr. Ward was spoken of in
the connection. The Rev. Mr. Beeman be-
ing a minister of long standing, a scholar,
(being a graduate of Oneida,) and a man of
acknowledged abilities, as well as a gentle-


man of urbane manners, the selection was a
good one, and the mission
important—indispensible; hence I cannot see why this
throwing it aside—this giving it the go-by.
This is not the first instance, I think, in
which this and kindred associations, existing
for the benefit of the colored people, have
turned aside when the question of good sal-
eries to competent colored men were on the
carpet, without regard to their peculiar fit-
ness for the work.

Wippinumoc, a young Sacem, comes to the
rescue of poor old Communipaw, by taking
exception to my remark, "that now is the
time to begin to cultivate the arts and
sciences among us, before we become more
deeply immersed in the rougher affairs of
life," as we surely will be. In this small
paragraph, he thinks he sees a loop hole
through which to drag the bones of that poor
old chief from the snug little prison in which
I shut him last winter for his blunders; and
then turns round and begs "peace to his
ashes." It won't do, my boy. Now, listen
to me, and you will be more cautious, and
manage your case better in the future. I said
in my controversy with good old Communi-
paw, that "wealth was of the highest import-
ance to our elevation;" the old Sacem said,
and you reiterate the remark, that the pres-
sent real can only—mark the expression—can
only be bettered by some ideal, and hinted
what that should be. Every body took the
hint, but refused to sanction. I now state
plainly, that the study of the arts and
sciences, &c., would be a great means for our
elevation. I also re-affirm that the acquisi-
tion of wealth would be a greater means for
the attainment of the same end. Both are ne-
cessary for our full success; yet the greater
always includes the lesser, my dear Wappin-
umoc. Be assured, I make due allowance
for your youth and verdency—I, Ethiop,
possessed both once; still, be a little more
careful, my young sir, and don't let your long
finger stick out quite so far. I perceive, as
every body else must, who have glanced at
you, that you are a chip of the old block
Communipaw, or rather the old spirit resus-

If the general reader desires a nearer ac-
quaintance with you than the foregoing par-
agraph has introduced him, I would advise
him, as my old Hebrew teacher, catching up
the book, used to advise me: Read you, my
young Wappinumoc, from right to left, and
they may understand you like a book; so
good bye for the present, my dear young Wap-
pinumoc—the same to you, dear Fred.

Yours truly, ETHIOP.


P. S.—The neat little card from Commun-
ipaw, in your last number, startled me. I
had a horrid suspicion of the spirit rappers.
Has Dr. James McCune Smith any faith in
the spirit rappers? E.


Ethiop (William J. Wilson)


April 2, 1853


Ethiop [William J. Wilson] to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 15 April 1853. Defends his position from Wappinumoc’s criticism; reports William Harned retired as Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Office; laments that a white man will replace him.


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


Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.) 1851-18??



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