Autobiographical Writings, Volume 3, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Book 1)

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Life and Times, Second Part





The members of the convention were to walk two abreast, and as I was the only colored member of the convention, the question was, as to who of my brother members would consent to walk with me? The answer was not long in coming. There was one man present who was broad enough to take in the whole situation, and brave enough to meet the duty of the hour: one who was neither afraid nor ashamed to own me as a man and a brother: one man of the purest Caucasian type, a poet and a scholar, brilliant as a writer, eloquent as a speaker, and holding a high and influential position- the editor of a weekly journal having the largest circulation of any weekly paper in the city or State of New York-and that man was Mr. Theodore Tilton. He came to me in my isolation, seized me by the hand in a most brotherly way, and proposed to walk with me in the procession .

I have been in many awkward and disagreeable positions in my life. when the presence of a friend would have been highly valued, but I think I never appreciated an act of courage and generous sentiment more highly than I did of this brave young man, when we marched through the streets of Philadelphia on this memorable day.

Well! what came of all these dark forebodings of timid men'? How was my presence regarded by the populace? and what effect did it produce? I will tell you. The fears of the loyal Governors who wished me excluded to propitiate the favor of the crowd, met with a signal reproof, their apprehensions were shown to be groundless, and they were compelled, as many of them confessed to me afterwards, to own themselves entirely mistaken . The people were more enlightened and had made more progress than their leaders had supposed. An act for which those leaders expected to be pelted with stones, only brought to them unmeasured applause. Along the whole line of march my presence was cheered repeatedly and enthusiastically. I was myself utterly surprised by the heartiness and unanimity of the popular approval. We were marching through a city remarkable for the depth and bitterness of its hatred of the abolition movement: a city whose populace had mobbed anti-slavery meetings, burned temperance halls and churches owned by colored people, and burned down Pennsylvania Hall because it had opened its doors to people of different colors upon terms of equality. But now the children of those who had committed these outrages and follies' were applauding the very principles which their fathers had condemned. After the demonstrations of this first day, I found myself a welcome member of the convention, and cordial greeting took the place of cold aversion. The victory was short, signal, and complete.

During the passage of the procession, as we were marching through

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