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Francis Barry to Frederick Douglass, May 4, 1853


Letter from Francis Barry.

BROTHER DOUGLASS:—I am glad to see the
subject of marriage referred to in your pa-
per. A subject of more thrilling significance
and interest never presented itself to the at-
tention of mortals. Melancholy, soul-chilling
are the reflections that force themselves upon
us, as we look about and witness the univer-
sal prevalence of narrow, sensual views of
this sacred, heavenly relation. No more ex-
alted ideas seem to enter the minds of the
sensual mass, than are begotten by cold,
mercenary calculation, or soul-withering
prejudice. A forcible illustration of the
truth of this statement is to be seen in the
base, malignant, infernal persecution that
has recently met Wm. G. Allen and Mary
King. Whether there is a similarity, a one-
ness of sentiment, feeling and purpose ex-
isting between these two individuals—a con-
geniality necessary to make them happy and
loving life-mates, I know not; neither is it
any especial business of mine, only as I am
interested to know whether any of my broth-
ers and sisters are happy and blest. A man
and woman have no right to join in this
most intimate and important of all relations,
unless they are filled for each other; but


they must be themselves the sole judges in
the case, and if they are in the wrong, they
and their children must bear the curse. It
is certain that a marked dissimilarity in the
mental organization of two individuals un-
fits them for congenial and happy compan-
ionship. It is true, also, that a marked phy-
sical dissimilarity (whether for form, size,
features or complexion) is unfavorable; and
it is highly probable, to say the least, that
the one will accompany the other. Be this
as it may, where there is a mutual attraction
and affinity, all else will be sure to harmon-
ize. This is the test—the only point—all
else is foreign, intrusive. The point I in-
sist upon is this: that bystanders have noth-
ing to do in the case. True, all have an un-
doubted right to lay down general principles,
and defend them according to ability, as they
have a right to express an opinion, in a
proper manner, on any subject.

Well do I remember (for I was deeply in-
terested in the matter) when I found her
whose heart and happiness, and hopes and
destinies, and mine, are one—how self-ap-
pointed counsellors and dictators sought to
intimidate us into a sacrifice of principle and
self-respect, by submitting to an unmeaning
ceremonial mockery. Poor fools! They
thought they were meddling with their own
business, and that forms and mummeries
would add strength to the law of the eternal
God, whose decree had bound our souls in-
dissolubly in one.

Had a man a shade darker than Wm. G.


Allen, but not belonging to an "inferior
race," proffered his heart to Mary King, there
would have been no cause for alarm! The
shameful and disgusting prejudice of which
Wm. G. Allen is a victim, is as brainless as
it is heartless. My counsel to him, is, to pity
the subjects of it for their folly and stupidity
and scorn, and defy them for their mean-
ness and insolence.


BERLIN, May 4th, 1853.


Barry, Francis




Francis Barry to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 13 May 1853. Supports the marriage of William G. Allen and Mary E. King.


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