DOUGLASS TO GERRIT SMITH, 18 MARCH 1854 75
it probably occurred in the later weeks of February, since he reported on 8 February that he expected
to arrive back in Rochester before the next edition of Frederick Douglass’ Paper was published on
the 17th. In fact, he did not return to Rochester until 3 March. FDP, 3 February, 17 February, 3 March
3. Perhaps an allusion to the position taken by William H. Seward in an address in the U.S.
Senate on 17 February 1854 in opposition to passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Seward attacked
the Democratic party’s position that popular sovereignty should guide whether slavery could be es-
tablished in a federal territory. Seward ridiculed the Democrats’ claim that Congress had no authority
over slavery in a territory, since that matter is constitutionally the right of the citizens of a territory, by
noting that Congress had often exercised its authority over slavery in the District of Columbia. Smith
and Douglass appear to regret that Seward did not advocate that Congress exercise those same powers
to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. FDP, 10 March 1854.
4. Smith delivered his principal address in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the House
of Representative on 6 April 1854. Douglass published a brief synopsis of that speech in his paper
on 21 April 1854 and the entire text of the speech on 12 May 1854. Douglass alludes to a passage
in Smith’s speech in which the veteran abolitionist conceded that the North had long profited from
the establishment of slavery in the South and was thereby obligated to aid in its extinguishment.
Smith advocated a federal appropriation of $400 million to compensate slaveholders for emancipa-
tion. In 1857, well after the end of his congressional career, Smith joined with the Quaker abolitionist
Elihu Burritt to hold a national convention to advocate for compensated emancipation. Harlow, Gerrit
Smith, 326–31; Betty L. Fladeland, “Compensated Emancipated Emancipation: A Rejected Alterna-
tive,” JSH, 42:183–84 (May 1976).
FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO GERRIT SMITH
Rochester, [N.Y.] 18 March .
HON: GERRIT SMITH
MY DEAR FRIEND.
I am at home, and have your welcome notes.1 You have only to vote and
Speak the convictions of your head and heart to have my earnest, though
feeble Support. I knew you would vote against the homestead Bill, as
Soon as I learned that the mean and wicked—amendment of Mr Wright2
had prevailed. Thomas Davis,3 is known to me—and I was prepared to
hear that he voted right. His opinions have changed much Since our first
acquaintance. Now more than twelve years: but his heart is, No doubt as
noble as ever.
There was a good chance on Wright’s “White” amendment, to have
recounted Some of the patriotic Services of the Colored people—and to
have made and argument in favour of their citizenShip—But one Man
cannot Say everything—and perhaps, the time, was not allowed. I brought
to gether Some facts on this point for the Colored Convention4 held here
last Summer—which may prove convenient to you—I therefore take the
Y7271-Douglass_9780300218305.indb 75 1/26/18 9:41 AM
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