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FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO SAMUEL J. MAY

Rochester[, N.Y.] 28 January 1863[.]
REV S. J. May.
MY DEAR SIR.
The donation to the Freed Men, which I had designed to make to the
Freed Men’s Association1had your letter come sooner, I have already sent
through another Channel. I bought fifty dollars worth of shawls and sent
to Miss Wilbur2 the agent of the Rochester Ladies Antislavery society at
Alexandria who has already distributed them to the needy women and
children of that place. I have stated the fact to Mr Leigh3 who approves of
what I have done. I have to thank you for five dollars, in aid of my paper.4
I am just home from a fortnights tour in the west as far as Chicago and am
to be off again in a day or two on a similar tour in Connecticut5 where as
elsewhere powerful efforts are making to turn the Current of Sentiment
against the Emancipation proclamation. The work before the Abolitionists
is now to make the north a unit in favour of that great measure—and if
possible to cary it beyond it. The slaves’ liberation is the country’s salva-
tion. So I preach in all the Congregations—and the people hear me gladly.
To have lived to see this truth so generally acknowledged is a great and
precious privilege. God bless Abraham Lincoln, bless the old and faithful
Abolitionists and bless you, My Dear sir, who have contributed your full
share to this grand result,

In love and veneration
I am yours very truly
FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

ALS: Thomson-King Collection, CHSL.

1. The prominent Unitarian minister and active Garrisonian abolitionist Samuel J. May worked
for the Syracuse Freedmen’s Aid Society between 1863 and 1869. The society was part of the larger
freedmen’s aid movement, whose goal was to bring social and political equality to the freed slaves
through education. McPherson, The Struggle for Equality, 386-88; Yacovone, Samuel Joseph
May
, 175.

2. Douglass likely refers to the antislavery efforts of Julia A. Wilbur (1815-95), a white Quaker
from Rochester, New York, who advocated for the rights of blacks and women. A teacher and member
of the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society, Wilbur was hired by the society as a freedmen’s agent
and in October 1862 was sent to Alexandria, Virginia, to assist contrabands. She formed a close alli-
ance with Harriet Jacobs, who arrived in Alexandria in January 1863 to support Wilbur’s activities.
Sometimes clashing with army officials in the area, Wilbur and Jacobs assisted schoolteachers and
established a number of sewing circles and other work sites. Wilbur continued to help free blacks af-
ter the war, most notably at her residence in the Pennsylvania Freedmen’s Relief Association building
in Georgetown, and campaigned for women’s right to vote via the National Woman Suffrage Asso-

Y7271-Douglass_9780300218305.indb 384 1/26/18 9:41 AM

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