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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 opportunity for catering it. Interesting monthly meetings, for prayer for the enslaved, are held in the Siloam P. Church—Rev. Mr. Freeman's, Brooklyn. The one of last Sabbath 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 remembered, but well digested by the needy audience 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 permitted 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 business, however, for the Doctor this, than writing Fugitive Slave Law sermons up at Ruserban, near Brooklyn.

Wm. H. Harned, for many years one of the Secretaries in the Anti-Slavery Office, has vacated 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 American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society—the same, I believe, that employed Mr. Harned—was the source from which it was contemplated to send a colored agent to Europe, but has since withdrawn its resolve.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 being 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 saleries to competent colored men were on the carpet, without regard to their peculiar fitness 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 Communipaw, that "wealth was of the highest importance to our elevation;" the old Sacem said, and you reiterate the remark, that the pressent 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 acquisition of wealth would be a greater means for the attainment of the same end. Both are necessary for our full success; yet the greater always includes the lesser, my dear Wappinumoc. 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 resuscitated.

If the general reader desires a nearer acquaintance with you than the foregoing paragraph 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 Wappinumoc—the same to you, dear Fred.

Yours truly, ETHIOP.


P. S.—The neat little card from Communipaw, 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



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